Abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry

Site of the abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry along the Sawyer River in Harts Location, New Hampshire USA. Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from this site, which he owned at the time, during the 1860s to build Notchland, a granite mansion in Hart’s Location.
Site of The Bemis Granite Quarry – Sawyer River, Hart’s Location
 

Abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry – I recently photographed the forgotten Bemis Granite Quarry in Hart's Location, New Hampshire. This quarry, located along the Sawyer River (above), is small when compared to other quarries, such as the Redstone Granite Quarry, but the history attached to it is fascinating.

When most people hear mention of the Sawyer River valley, they automatically associate it with the Sawyer River Railroad and the village of Livermore. But before the logging railroad took over the Sawyer River valley in the 1870s Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from land, which he owned at the time, along the Sawyer River during the 1860s to build his granite mansion in Hart’s Location.

Site of the abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry along the Sawyer River in Harts Location, New Hampshire USA. Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from this site, which he owned at the time, during the 1860s to build Notchland, a granite mansion in Hart’s Location.
Bemis Granite Quarry – Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
 

Dr. Samuel Bemis, a retired Boston dentist, owned 1000s of acres in Hart’s Location. Bemis Brook, Bemis Brook Falls, and Mount Bemis bare his name. His life has been well documented, and you can do an internet search to learn more about his connection and importance to Crawford Notch, New Hampshire.

Bemis is also considered to be one of the first American landscape photographers. And it is believed that he bought the first camera ever sold in the United States in April of 1840. The George Eastman Museum actually still has Bemis’s daguerreotype camera and the sales receipt! Take a look.

Remnants of granite splitting (plug and feathers) at the abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry along the Sawyer River in Harts Location, New Hampshire USA. Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from this site, which he owned at the time, during the 1860s to build Notchland, a granite mansion in Hart’s Location.
Bemis Granite Quarry – Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
 

Now that you know little about Dr. Samuel Bemis let me show you his granite quarry. The quarry is small and blends in well with the landscape, and if you are not looking for it is almost unnoticeable along the Sawyer River. One landmark of the quarry site is a pile of granite blocks (above) on the riverbank. They look natural but inspecting them reveals they were placed there.

Site of the abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry along the Sawyer River in Harts Location, New Hampshire USA. Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from this site, which he owned at the time, during the 1860s to build Notchland, a granite mansion in Hart’s Location.
Bemis Granite Quarry – Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
 

The forest has reclaimed the quarry, but remnants of granite splitting are still visible. On the day I visited, my plan was to create only one image that showcased the quarry, but after exploring the site, I realized that a group of images would be needed to showcase the forgotten Bemis quarry.

Remnants of granite splitting (plug and feathers) at the abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry along the Sawyer River in Harts Location, New Hampshire USA. Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from this site, which he owned at the time, during the 1860s to build Notchland, a granite mansion in Hart’s Location.
Bemis Granite Quarry – Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
 

Cut granite blocks (above) varying in size are scattered around the quarry. They seem so out of place in the middle of the forest, but yet they tell the story of an era of the White Mountains that intrigues many of us. I can’t help but wonder what this quarry looked like when it was operational.

Remnants of granite splitting (plug and feathers) at the abandoned Bemis Granite Quarry along the Sawyer River in Harts Location, New Hampshire USA. Dr. Samuel Bemis quarried granite from this site, which he owned at the time, during the 1860s to build Notchland, a granite mansion in Hart’s Location.
Bemis Granite Quarry – Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
 

The granite was split using the plug and feather method, and some of the plug and feathers are still in place (above). I counted around six still in one section of the ledge. More than likely these were put in the ledge by quarry workers. 

The Notchland Inn in Hart’s Location, New Hampshire during the spring months. This granite mansion was designed and built by Dr. Samuel Bemis in the 1860s. Bemis quarried the granite for this mansion from a quarry he owned along the Sawyer River. It is also believed that Bemis was the first person to buy a commercially available camera in the United States.
The Notchland Inn – Hart’s Location, New Hampshire
 

As for Dr. Samuel Bemis' granite mansion. He retired from dentistry in 1861, started building his mansion around 1862, moved into it on Christmas Eve 1870, and lived there until his death on May 22, 1881. Today, we know this beautiful granite mansion as the Notchland Inn B&B along Route 302 in Hart’s Location. It is made entirely of granite quarried from this forgotten quarry.

Most of the above images can be licensed for publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more images from the Bemis granite quarry here.

Happy image making…


 

To license any of the photos in this blog article for publications, click on the photo.

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in environmental conservation and historic preservation photography in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society.

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