The Rock of Ages operations consist of granite quarries and monument (read: tombstone) manufacturing. Sounds boring, maybe a bit morbid? Well it was the grand surprise of the trip. There are a few quarrying operations you can visit in Vermont. I picked Rock of Ages because they had an additional activity there - for $15 you (or more likely, your kids) can pick out a pre-stencilled slab of granite the size of an index card and sand blast etch the design in yourself. Now that was cool (and the attendant was great with the kids. She knew just how to make my 3-year old feel like he was participating as I sand blasted the wolf he picked out, while not talking down to the 10-year old too much).
The sand blasting was particularly cool after seeing the production floor - cranes and pulleys moved chunks of granite of various sizes, moving the various monuments in and out of various cutting, polishing and etching stations. The place was huge, say the size of 3 football fields side to side!
But the most excellent thing was the quarry itself - 600+ feet deep with sheer sides so that workers are lowered into the pit in a cage attached to a crane. Granite slabs weighing thousands of pounds (and also port-a-potties) are brought out the same way. In case of crane failure or other emergency, there was a system of ladders and stairs mounted on the sheer wall of the pit, for the employees to climb out. It all looked to be a ridiculously terrifying job. The tour itself proceeds by automobile. You listen to the tour guide on FM radio until you get to the active quarry site, where you all go to the edge of the quarry. Huge piles of massive chunks of junk granite were tucked away in every corner. We were all blown away. Probably the most amazing place we visited in Vermont, and that's not even considering the marble bowling lane they've built on the grounds! The quarry tour is$5 for adults, $2.50 for kids. Well worth the price!
PS: That scene in Star Trek where young James Kirk drives a classic car over the edge of a cliff? Filmed at Rock of Ages. How cool is that?!?
This beautiful cemetery is worth a visit. The ornate, handcarved headstones and other memorials of those buried here speak accolades of the carvers and all others who designed and worked the granite, creating the artwork that you will find here. Testament is given to those buried beneath these ornate monuments. As one walks through this eternal garden it is possible to imagine what those buried here were like, how they may have lived on earth through the memorials left for them by loved ones. Take the time to vist Hope Cemetery if you're in Vermont (make it a day trip combined with the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory) You won't regret it.
This is the big attraction in Barre. This is where the granite for most of the nations tombstones is quarried, cut, dressed, and inscripted. I remember visiting it as both a kid and an adult and being amazed both times.
173 S Main St, Barre, VT 05641
Good for: Couples
70 Washington St, Barre, VT 05641
Good for: Business
3472 Airport Road
Good for: Business
278 South Main Street, Barre, Vermont, 05641, United States
Good for: Business
Actually, this place in Williamstown, but it's only about 7 miles south of Barre. If you're in Barre for the Rock of Ages tour, be sure to stop down at Spiderweb Farm. It's an odd little place. As you follow the signs, you end up driving up a gravel driveway. The lower level of the house is the gift shop, behind you is the "farm". It's actually a large shed in the back yard, filled with wooden racks, and lots of tiny spiders. The spiders weave their almost invisible webs on the racks. The proprietor then dusts them with a fine mist of paint, and captures then on a prepared board. Voila! Art! Or something pretty nifty anyway. Small ones are available for about $15. The proprietor is a really friendly guy and more than willing to chat the day away with you. A real honest Character. This has to be a one of a kind stop. Don't miss it.
The website has driving directions, with the offer 'If you get lost, call Will' and his number. We just took Route 14 south from Rock of Ages and watched for the signs.