At the time of writing this, I’ve only been to the Quarry thrice. My boyfriend was the one to initially bring me here, though each time we visit, something about this land captivates me…
I had been to the areas around the Quarry, though had no idea it existed until my partner brought me there directly. You have to divert from the adjacent trail and traverse a beaten path in order to reach it. You emerge from the forest to find a deep, open land beneath your feet. Naturally, the Quarry’s vastness is the first thing it impresses upon anyone who comes across it. The walls that lead down to its base are steep, and it’s no fun to hike down in flip-flops or sandals (I should know). What really intrigues me is that this gaping crevice is surprisingly discreet due to how well it hides behind the dense mass of trees that surrounds it from all sides. Once you approach the Quarry, however, a clear view is there to greet you.
When I first laid eyes on this land, riding up to its edge on a bike I borrowed from my boyfriend’s stepmother, the first thing to cross my mind was a question: Why was this place made?
The definition of a quarry, according to National Geographic, “is a place where rocks, sand, or minerals are extracted from the surface of the Earth. A quarry is a type of mine called an open-pit mine, because it is open to the Earth’s surface.” There are several famous quarries, such as the Marble Quarries in Carrara, Italy and the Mines and Quarries of Ancient Egypt. National Geographic goes on to explain that “The most common purpose of quarries is to extract stone for building materials.” Thus, many stunning pieces of architecture are and have been created from the depths of the earth extracted from a quarry.
The Quarry by Blueberry Hill Trail is mostly comprised of sand, so my initial thought was that the sand there is used to make concrete. I wasn’t sure, however, if this particular area was filled with any other kinds of minerals or stones, so I did a quick search online to see if I could get some answers as to the Quarry and its location.
According to an old Reddit thread, one user explained that the Quarry is “an active sand mine — Tri-Boro Sand and Stone.” I searched this name and found the website for James D. Morrissey, Inc., a general contractor in the Philadelphia area. One of their locations is none other than Tri-Borough Sand & Stone:
Tri-Borough Sand & Stone, located in Camden County, NJ, is the closest major sand mine to the Philadelphia marketplace. From this plant, [Tri-Borough] serve[s] Eastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey with concrete and asphalt sand products of exceptional quality. Because of its convenient location, Tri-Borough Sand & Stone saves our customers on trucking costs.
My hunch was confirmed!
Aside from construction, the Quarry is also (unofficially) used for dirt-bike and ATV riding. Each time I’ve been here, I’ve seen riders zip through the open area, engines revving and reverberating in the sunken land, only for their echos to fade among the trees above. I’ve also heard occasional gun shots from a nearby firing range.
When the noise from man-made machinery ceases, the Quarry is truly a peaceful and quiet place. People often stop by to let their dogs run and explore. My boyfriend and I once threw a baseball around, playing catch with some dusty mitts from his shed, which reminded me of my youth, doing the same activity with my dad in my own backyard. We also had an intense Frisbee session that day, where my partner taught me the basics of proper Frisbee flying, along with a few fancy throws that didn’t look so fancy when I tried them. We would challenge each other, shouting “go long!” and throwing the Frisbee over one another’s heads, forcing the other to clumsily run in the fine sand beneath our feet.
The last time we’ve stopped by, however, I noticed a new “No Trespassing” sign at the Quarry’s base. This was understandable, as it is private property, though it was truly fun to be able to roam the hollowed land under the open, blue skies.
The Quarry is a hidden gem by a lovely trail that I recommend to anyone who enjoys nature walks, wildlife, hiking, forests… or quarries. It’s a close-to-home location with an incredible view; a little wonder dug from the earth itself.
Julia Collucci writes big thoughts about the things she sees on her walks in both local neighborhoods and far-away places. Follow her Medium account Little Walks, Big Thoughts to read more of her articles.