Black Mountain’s surface is cracked and crazed. Mammoth slabs of loose rock, some hundreds of tons apiece, litter its slopes. The hardness of the great dome would seem undefaceable by any actions short of glacial, but human intervention has left its mark. In the early 20th century, a quarrying operation extracted stone from a pit cut into the base of the mountain’s western flank. The fifty-man crew cut stone for many monumental constructions including the dam across the Connecticut River at Holyoke, Massachusetts. Up close, the quarry cavity is huge, but viewed from the my home on the hillside above West Dummerston village the abandoned excavation looks like little more than a small bite taken from a big apple.
The village of West Dummerston grew out of a need to house quarry workers and their families. Two churches were established and a railroad station built. A wood and steel bridge at the north end of the village crossed the river on tall granite piers. Granite workers walked the railroad trestle on their way to the quarry. Throughout the work day, compressed-air drills hummed. The din of industry was amplified by the hard rock face of the quarry and projected across the valley; a level of sound probably not that different from what I hear today from the cars and trucks traveling the valley floor along State Route 30.
The West River rail bridges have all disappeared, cut apart for their steel during WWII. The only river span in service to vehicular traffic in Dummerston these days is a 19th century, covered bridge. A half-mile north of the village the rugged, wood lattice structure connects East-West Road to Route 30. In the shadow of the old bridge the river deepens, creating a much enjoyed, summertime swimming hole.