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Granite Street Quarry, Somerville, Massachusetts

Last Updated: 19th Jan 2019

By Peter Cristofono

The Granite Street Quarry, Somerville, Massachusetts: Its History and Minerals


© 2019 Peter Cristofono

Introduction

In 1946, Charles Palache’s multipart article “Some Lost Mineral Localities of New England,” published in Rocks and Minerals magazine, featured the Granite Street quarry in Somerville, Massachusetts, as its first “lost” locality. Despite its name, the Granite Street quarry was not in granite, but diabase[1], and it was not really lost — it was just a mile from Harvard, where Palache, a retired professor of mineralogy and curator of the mineralogical museum had spent decades. The quarry was, however, mostly backfilled and built over, so that only a small portion of its original walls remained visible, and mineral collecting was no longer possible.

Quarry Wall (Diabase) with Horizontal Vein
Sign in Osgood Park at the Site of the Former Quarry
Quarry Wall (Diabase) with Horizontal Vein
Sign in Osgood Park at the Site of the Former Quarry
Quarry Wall (Diabase) with Horizontal Vein
Sign in Osgood Park at the Site of the Former Quarry

For much of the nineteenth century, the quarry was owned and operated by Osgood Dane (1787–1878) and his son, Osgood B. Dane (1817–1899), and known informally as Dane’s Ledge. Milk Row quarry was another early name, after its location near that street (now Somerville Avenue). This area was part of the town of Charlestown until the founding of the town of Somerville in 1842. The unnamed access road to the quarry became a street called “Granite Street” by the early 1870s, and the quarry became known as the "Granite Street Quarry." Today, some of the remaining walls can be seen bordering the community garden adjacent to the playground in Osgood Park on Osgood Street, just east of Granite Street. A commemorative sign has been placed there by the city.

The quarry with its unusual minerals, interesting geology, and proximity to Harvard was a magnet for scientists and collectors throughout the nineteenth century. In addition to the mineralogists, geologists, and other scientists who visited, researched, or wrote about it, the owners and operators of the quarry, professors, students, and even criminals are all part of its story. So are the buildings, fence posts, walls, monuments, and an early railroad bed made from its stone. Even in the twentieth century, after the quarry had been shut down and abandoned, its mineral specimens in museum collections continued to be studied by scientists for another half-century.


Early History

Milestone Dated 1734
In the 1600s, the rock ledge at the site of the future quarry was in a rural part of Charlestown known as “beyond the neck,” part of a common pasture used by the townspeople for grazing cattle. It was located near the southeastern foot of what is now called Spring Hill, a western extension of Prospect Hill. Between 1681 and 1685, the town-owned land “beyond the neck" was subdivided into 1.25 acre lots and sold to individuals. In 1708, Abraham Ireland (1672–1753) bought 5.5 acres of land on the slopes of Spring/Prospect Hill from Joseph Whittemore and 6 acres from Jonathan Pierce. He continued to acquire property in the area until 1742. An old milestone in Cambridge near Harvard Square is engraved with the words "Boston 8 Miles 1734 A.I." The stone appears to be diabase (Wadsworth, 1877, though he called it diorite), and the initials "A.I" stand for Abraham Ireland (Hastings, 1919). This suggests that Ireland worked the ledge for stone at that early date.[2]

Dawn of the American Revolution

At the outset of the American Revolution, a road that would later be called Milk Row, and still later Somerville Ave., was located about 450 feet (137 meters) south of the ledge on the Ireland family’s land. On the evening of April 19, 1775, hundreds of exhausted British soldiers headed east along the road, retreating from the battles at Lexington and Concord, as American militia harassed them with gunfire from behind walls and houses and from the southern slope of Prospect Hill. The buried remains of an unidentified British soldier who was shot and killed that day were discovered 78 years later, in 1853, by Osgood B. Dane who was building a cellar on Milk Row, a short distance from the quarry. [3]

Grand Union Flag on Prospect Hill

On July 18, 1775, the American rebels unfurled a flag at the summit of Prospect Hill with the words “An Appeal to Heaven with American Arms.” The following winter, on January 1, 1776, troops under the command of General George Washington raised the first official flag of the United Colonies – the Grand Union flag – at the summit, where it was visible across the countryside, including from British-occupied Boston a couple of miles to the southeast.

Charlestown Prehnite Locality

At least as early as 1813, and for decades afterwards, the ledge was mainly known to mineralogists and geologists as the prehnite locality in Charlestown.

Prehnite (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)

1810s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1813 Warren, J.C. and Jackson, J. List of minerals and fossils which have been observed in Massachusetts proper, and the District of Maine, The New England Journal of Medicine 2:190-193
1813 Waterhouse, J.F. Description of Certain Minerals Found in the State of Massachusetts, The New England Journal of Medicine 2:261-264
1814 Waterhouse, J.F. Description of American Minerals, The New England Journal of Medicine 3:126-128
1816 Cleaveland, P. An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology
1816 Jameson, R. A System of Mineralogy, vol.1, 2nd ed., p. 295-296
1818 Dana, J.F. and Dana, S.L. Outlines of the Mineralogy and Geology of Boston and Its Vicinity, vol. 4, part 1


John Collins Warren
Parker Cleaveland
Robert Jameson
Samuel L. Dana









John Collins Warren (1778–1856) and James Jackson (1777–1867)
The earliest published record of a mineral occurrence at the site is found in volume 2, number 2, of the New England Journal of Medicine. The journal’s editors, Dr. John Collins Warren and Dr. James Jackson, appended a “List of minerals and fossils which have been observed in Massachusetts proper, and the District of Maine” to a review of a published version of an address delivered by Theodric Romeyn Beck (1791–1855) in Albany, NY, on February 3, 1813, to the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts.[4] Collins and Jackson simply noted prehnite from Charlestown, without listing a source for the information.

John Fothergill Waterhouse (1791–1817)
Dr. John Fothergill Waterhouse, a physician inspired by Warren and Jackson’s review of Beck’s address in the New England Journal of Medicine, wrote an article listing and describing the minerals then known from Massachusetts. It was published in volume 2, number 3, of the New England Journal of Medicine, in June 1813. Waterhouse described in detail the color and habit of Charlestown prehnite and noted that the mineral is “disseminated through transitions of greenstone.” He was the first to report epidote and feldspar from the site. Waterhouse was the son of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (1754–1846), who taught natural history (including mineralogy and geology) at Harvard from 1788 to 1812. Both father and son were mineral collectors and it is not unlikely that one or both had visited the Charlestown prehnite locality.

Parker Cleaveland (1780–1858)
Parker Cleaveland, born in Rowley, Massachusetts, was a mineralogist, geologist, chemist, and professor at Bowdoin College and is often called the “Father of American Mineralogy.” He described Charlestown prehnite in his book An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology (1816), referencing Waterhouse as his source. The success of Cleaveland’s book was no doubt largely responsible for making “Charlestown” an important American mineral locality, famous in its day.

Robert Jameson (1774–1854)

Scottish mineralogist and naturalist Robert Jameson was the first European scientist to allude to the locality when he stated that prehnite had been found in “trap rocks near Boston” in his book, A System of Mineralogy (1816).

James Freeman Dana (1793–1827) and Samuel Luther Dana (1795–1868)
In 1818, brothers James Freeman Dana and Samuel Luther Dana of Boston, both physicians and chemists, published Outlines of the Mineralogy and Geology of Boston and Its Vicinity. They were the first to discuss the mineralogy and geology of the Charlestown prehnite locality in detail.

1820s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1820 Webster, J.W. [Review of] An Index to the Geology of the Northern States, 2nd ed. by Amos Eaton, North American Review 29:234.
1824 Webster, J.W. Remarks on the Geology of Boston and Its Vicinity, Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts 2:283.
1826 Webster, J.W. Notice of the Mineralogy of Nova Scotia, and of Several New Localities of American Minerals, Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts 3:599.
1822 Cleaveland, P. An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology, 2nd ed.
1825 Robinson, S. A Catalogue of American Minerals and Their Localities
1827 Comstock, J.L. Elements of Mineralogy

John White Webster
Parker Cleaveland
Thomas Nuttall
John Lee Comstock









John W. Webster (1793–1850)
John W. Webster, mineralogist, geologist, chemist, and Harvard professor, wrote in 1824 that trap rock at the southwestern corner of Prospect Hill had been quarried for architectural purposes. This seems to be the first mention of quarrying at the site. He held a high opinion of Charlestown prehnite, comparing it favorably to that from France, Tuscany, and Scotland. Webster was the first to report chabazite (1826) from the quarry, and Hitchcock (1833) credited him with finding laumontite there as well. Webster was the first of a long line of Harvard-affiliated mineralogists and geologists to visit and study the Milk Row / Granite Street quarry. As associate editor of the Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts from 1824 to 1826, he reported news of mineralogical discoveries, especially those in the New England region. He is remembered most, however, for being convicted and executed for the 1849 murder of prominent Boston physician and businessman, Dr. George Parkman. Though he maintained his innocence at the trial, he did confess to the crime after his conviction. Webster was publicly hanged on August 30, 1850. Many people then and now believe he was innocent.

Thomas J. Nuttall (1786–1859)
English naturalist Thomas Nuttall arrived in Cambridge in the spring of 1823 for a position as curator of the Botanic Garden at Harvard. While there, he became acquainted with Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, Dr. John W. Webster (who would be appointed Lecturer in Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology in 1824), and Dr. Joseph G. Cogswell (1786-1871), professor of geology and mineralogy, and college librarian from 1820-1823, and in September 1823: Charles Upham Shepard, a senior at Amherst College (and cousin of philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson). Nuttall taught courses in natural history from 1823-1834. He often walked with his students to local nature sites,[5] and it very likely that some of these field trips would have been to the Charlestown prehnite locality. We know that Nuttall probably collected in Charlestown in 1823-24 because Robinson (1825) referenced him for a report of aragonite in "sienite" from the site.

Samuel Robinson (1783-1827)
Samuel Robinson was a physician, mineralogist, and author of A Catalogue of American Minerals and Their Localities, an important early American mineralogical work. He was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and was educated at Dartmouth College. Robinson cited Nuttall for the occurrence in Charlestown of aragonite, described as "acicular crystals in the syenite." He references Cleaveland for the occurrence of chlorite and prehnite and Webster for feldspar crystals.

John Lee Comstock (1789-1858)
John Lee Comstock, born in Lyme, Connecticut, was a physician, surgeon and author of the textbook Elements of Mineralogy. He referenced Waterhouse for prehnite from Charlestown and also listed chlorite.

Milk Row Quarry, Charlestown

1830s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1833 Hitchcock, E. Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany, and Zoology of Massachusetts
1835 Shepard, C.U. A Treatise on Mineralogy, Part II
1837 Dana, J.D. A System of Mineralogy
1839 Teschemacher, J.E. Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History, June 1839; in American Journal of Science 38:194.

Edward Hitchcock
Charles U. Shepard
James Dwight Dana









Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864)
Edward Hitchcock, born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, was a professor of chemistry and natural history at Amherst College from 1825 to 1845, and the state geologist of Massachusetts from 1830 to 1844. In his 1833 report on the geology, etc. of Massachusetts, he referenced a personal communication with John W. Webster for the occurrence of chabazite and laumontite at the Charlestown locality. In the same report, he described a variety of feldspar "prisms" from the site that "exhibit stripes of various colors...some have proposed for it the name taenite[6] on account of its resemblance to a ribbon."

Charles Upham Shepard (1804-1886)
Charles U. Shepard, born in Little Compton, Rhode Island, graduated from Amherst College in 1824. He studied mineralogy under Thomas Nuttall at Harvard for a year, and during this time he likely visited the Charlestown locality and became familiar with its minerals. Shepard went on to become an assistant to the mineralogist Benjamin Silliman at Yale from 1827 to 1831. He was later a professor at Yale, Amherst, and the South Carolina Medical College.

James Dwight Dana (1813-1895)
James Dwight Dana was born in Utica, New York, and graduated from Yale in 1833. In 1836-1837, he assisted Benjamin Silliman in Yale's chemistry lab. The first edition of his book A System of Mineralogy was published in 1837 and included a mention of prehnite from Charlestown. Subsequent editions of this work by him (1844, 1850, 1854, 1868) included more listings of minerals from the Milk Row Quarry, as well as more detailed descriptions.

James Engelbert Teschemacher (1790-1853)
A native of Nottingham, England, James E. Teschemacher came to the United States in 1832 and settled in Boston. He was not a professor or physician like the others mentioned thus far in this article, but rather a businessman. In his spare time he studied mineralogy, geology, chemistry, and botany, and he became a member of several scientific societies; his papers were published in various journals and frequently cited. Teschemacher's description of the minerals of the Milk Row Quarry in 1839 was the most comprehensive to date.

Boston & Lowell Railroad

1836 Map of a Portion of Charlestown Showing the Location of the Milk Row Quarry (lower left)
Original Train on the Boston & Lowell Railroad in 1835
1836 Map of a Portion of Charlestown Showing the Location of the Milk Row Quarry (lower left)
Original Train on the Boston & Lowell Railroad in 1835
1836 Map of a Portion of Charlestown Showing the Location of the Milk Row Quarry (lower left)
Original Train on the Boston & Lowell Railroad in 1835

Construction of the 26-mile long Boston & Lowell Railroad, one of the first railroads in North America, began in 1832 and was completed in 1835. Stone from the quarry on Milk Row[7] was used as roadbed (i.e., the rails were laid on a foundation of the diabase) in the portion of the railroad from Boston to Medford (Hawes et al., 1884). An 1836 map (above) shows the location of the Milk Row quarry. A September 17, 1832, newspaper report indicates that the quarry was in operation that year, and that the work was dangerous:
“Accident. We learn from a gentleman who came through Milk Row, Charlestown, this morning, that as Mr. Knox of Lowell, was working on the quarry, drilling out an old charge, the powder took fire from a spark, the rock split, and Mr. K was seriously injured. He was wounded badly in the face, the thumb of his right hand torn off and an eye destroyed. He is in a very critical situation, but the surgeon thinks he will survive. This is the same quarry where Mr. Wright was blown up, about three weeks since. We are happy to learn that he is recovering.” (Boston Courier, September 17, 1832, via The Transcript)


Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1834
Ireland-Dane House in Somerville
Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1834
Ireland-Dane House in Somerville
Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1834
Ireland-Dane House in Somerville

Osgood Dane (1787–1878): Quarry Owner

Born in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1787, Osgood Dane was a member of a family with deep Puritan roots, a direct descendant of John Dane (b. 1587 in Berkhampstead, England, d. 1658 in Roxbury, Massachusetts) who immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony ca. 1636 and settled in Ipswich (established 1634). John Dane’s son (and Osgood’s great-great-great grandfather), Rev. Francis Dane (1615–1697), was ordained in 1648 and took a position as a minister in the new town of Andover (established 1646). Rev. Dane was noted for being an outspoken critic of the Salem witch trials of 1692, a stance that brought the suspicion of the authorities onto him and his family (Jobe, 2001). In fact, the reverend’s daughter Abigail, and her two young children, were charged with witchcraft. Abigail was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death; ultimately, she was pardoned by the governor of the colony as the hysteria died down a few months later, and she was released from prison.

Burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown by a Mob in 1834
Old town records show that Osgood Dane lived in Dracut for a time, where he married Mary Richardson of Methuen in 1812. In 1834, we find him listed as a resident of the rapidly growing manufacturing town of Lowell, his occupation listed as blacksmith. That same year he represented Lowell in the Massachusetts legislature. In December 1834, Dane traveled to Cambridge to serve as a juror in the trial of John R. Buzzell, the alleged ringleader of the anti-Catholic riots and arson attack that destroyed the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown in August of that year. The convent, located about a mile (1.5 km) northeast of the quarry on Milk Row, was looted and burned to the ground. Buzzell was charged with arson (a capital offense at the time) and burglary, but despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, the jury delivered a verdict of “not guilty” to thunderous applause by his supporters in the courtroom and thousands more outside.

In 1836, Lowell (which that year became a city) paid Osgood Dane $38.72 for “stone and teaming” involving road and bridge work, but the source of his stone was not recorded. In 1837, Dane served on Lowell’s city council (the “Common Council”) representing Ward 5. He sold land and buildings in Lowell to Walter Cunningham on October 15, 1838, and is listed as a blacksmith living in on School Street in 1839 with his son Osgood B. Dane. (Floyd, 1840). Soon afterwards, Osgood Dane moved 23 miles (37 km) south from Lowell to Charlestown and began operating the Milk Row Quarry. A Charlestown record shows that the town purchased “63 loads” of stone chips from him in 1839-40. Around 1842, Dane and his family moved into a house on Milk Row (now 461 Somerville Avenue), close to the quarry. The house was built either c.1791 (per the Somerville Historical Society) or 1825 (per the city’s assessor’s office). Dane’s quarry provided stone for construction projects in Charlestown, Cambridge and Boston.

Milk Row Quarry, Somerville

Somerville separated from Charlestown and became its own town on March 3, 1842, with a population of 1,103. Diabase from the Milk Row quarry was used in the 1840s for building foundations, seawalls, basements of brick buildings, and for the underpinning of several streets in the city of Boston. Tombs made from Somerville diabase were used in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge (Hawes et al., 1884).
1840s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1844 Dana, J.D. A System of Mineralogy, 2nd ed.
1841 Hitchcock, E. (quoting C.T. Jackson) in Final Report on the Geology of Massachusetts.
1844 Alger. F.W. (citing T. Nuttall) in Phillips, Allan & Alger, An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy 5th ed., p. 79.

James Dwight Dana
Charles T. Jackson
Thomas Nuttall
Francis Willis Alger
Charles U. Shepard










Charles Thomas Jackson (1805-1880)
Charles T. Jackson was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1829. He was the author or coauthor of many geological and mining reports, including reports on the geological surveys of Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, states where he served as state geologist. Edward Hitchcock, in his 1841 book, Final Report on the Geology of Massachusetts, quoted a private communication from Jackson on minerals he found at the Milk Row quarry:
"I have the satisfaction to state that I have found a vein in the sienite of Cambridge [sic, = Charlestown], consisting of calcareous spar, serpentine, prehnite, laumonite, and chabasie. The three last occur in very handsome specimens crystalised. The calcareous spar occurs crystalised generally in the form of dog-tooth spar. It is of a honey yellow color and is very brilliant."
Jackson was the first and only observer to report serpentine.


America’s First Babingtonite Locality?

Babingtonite From the Granite Street / Milk Row Quarry (private collection)

Babingtonite was first described in 1824 by the French mineralogist Armand Lévy (1795–1841), who named it after physician and mineralogist, William Babington (1757–1833). The original locality was Arendal, Aust-Agder, Norway. Teschemacher’s (1839) "hornblende" from the Milk Row quarry was certainly babingtonite, as Palache and Fraprie (1902) noted, but Francis Alger (1844) was the first to specifically mention babingtonite from the locality, giving credit to Thomas Nuttall for the discovery: “The only locality of this species [babingtonite] in the United States, is at Charlestown Mass., in the sienite containing prehnite, chabasie, &c. where it was first observed by Prof. Nuttall...”[8]

Nuttall left Harvard in 1834, so he must have found babingtonite in Charlestown by then. Babingtonite is the official state mineral of Massachusetts[9], so if it turns out that its first discovery in America was made in the state, that would be welcome news. However, the first published report of a babingtonite occurrence in the United States preceded the publication of Alger’s book by nine years. Charles Shepard (1835) reported babingtonite from Gouverneur, New York, and Beck (1842) stated that Gouverneur was the first American babingtonite locality, calling it: “... the only known locality of babingtonite in the United States...where it was first noticed by Prof. Shepard, coating crystals of feldspar.” The Gouverneur babingtonite locality is apparently lost, and there seem to have been no subsequent reports of the mineral from that town. Hough (1850) even questioned whether it had ever been found there. [10] [11] Did Nuttall identify babingtonite from Massachusetts between 1824 and 1834 while he was at Harvard? It appears likely, but there are apparently no records to prove it.
1850s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1850 Wurtz, H. On a supposed New Mineral Species. American Journal of Science, 2nd series, 10:80-83.
1850 Dana, J.D. A System of Mineralogy, 3rd ed.
1854 Dana, J.D. A System of Mineralogy, 4th ed.
1852 Shepard, C.U. A Treatise on Mineralogy, 3rd ed.

Portion of an 1852 Map of Somerville. Locations of the quarry, Osgood Dane's home, and Harvard College in Cambridge, are marked.
Portion of an 1852 Map of Somerville. Locations of the quarry, Osgood Dane's home, and Harvard College in Cambridge, are marked.
Portion of an 1852 Map of Somerville. Locations of the quarry, Osgood Dane's home, and Harvard College in Cambridge, are marked.

Henry Wurtz
James Dwight Dana
Charles U. Shepard










Osgood Dane and his son Osgood B. Dane continued operating the quarry in the 1850s. Dane Sr. is listed as a “stone dealer” living on Milk Street,[12] in the 1851 Somerville directory. And Cambridge records show that the city purchased stone from the quarry in 1856.

J.D. Dana (1854) listed "lievrite" [ilvaite] from the Milk Row quarry in the 4th edition of his System of Mineralogy, without reporting who discovered it or how it was identified. Wurtz (1850) described melanolite, a possible new mineral, in the American Journal of Science. C.U. Shepard (1852) listed Charlestown as one of five localities for the "finest specimens" of prehnite. The others were: Dauphiné, France; Scotland; the Cape of Good Hope; and Farmington, Connecticut.

Evidence Relating to a Theft from the Steamer Admiral

Evidence from an unsolved theft aboard the Admiral was found at the Milk Row quarry in 1853:
“Some time since, a box in the charge of Col. Favor, and containing a large amount of bills on the Frontier Bank, Calais [Maine], and valuable papers, was stolen from the steamer Admiral. No trace of the property or thieves has yet been discovered; but on Tuesday last, the box which contained the property, but rifled of its contents, was found in the quarry on Milk Row, Charlestown.” (The Boston Daily Atlas. January 18, 1853)


Henry Wurtz (1828-1910)
Henry Wurtz, chemist and geologist, was born in Easton, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Princeton in 1848 and went on to study chemistry at Harvard. In 1850, Wurtz described melanolite from the Milk Row quarry. Wurtzilite, a variety of pyrobitumen, was named in his honor by George Frederick Kunz.

Melanolite: A Mineral New to Science?

The Milk Row quarry was the type locality for a supposed new mineral – melanolite – a species with a decidedly rocky history, having had its validity questioned even by its discoverer Henry Wurtz, who described it in 1850. Dana (1850) reported that the mineral occured "In thin plates with an uneven subtriated surface incrusting the sides of a fissure in a syenitic rock, successive plates overlying one another, but not separated by true cleavage. Structure columnar. No distinct cleavage. H=2. G=2.69. Lustre resinous. Color black. Streak dark olive-green. Opaque. Very brittle...From 'Milk Row Quarry' near Cambridge, Massachusetts. It has something of a chlorite-like appearance but is very brittle and nearly coal black in color, with the columnar structure distinct, but imperfect." Dana (1854) noted that German mineralogist K.F. Rammelsberg observed that melanolite is "near hisingerite," and Dana and Brush (1868) characterized melanolite as “approaching” hisingerite. Palache (1902) labeled it a “doubtful species.” Nevertheless, melanolite was considered a mineral, albeit a questionable one, for 105 years. Finally, in 1955, Clifford Frondel of Harvard determined that the mineral was essentially identical with delessite[13], a chlorite mineral, first described in 1850 from France, the same year that melanolite was described. Frondel suggested the name melanolite be discontinued even though it was published first, because delessite was better known. Today, delessite itself is no longer considered a valid species; it can be either an iron-rich clinochlore or a magnesian chamosite. The Smithsonian has a specimen of melanolite (no. R459300) from the Milk Row Quarry relabeled as magnesian chamosite.

1860s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1862 Des Cloizeaux, A. Manuel de Minéralogie
1868 Dana, J.D. and Brush, G.J. A System of Mineralogy, 5th edition.

Alfred Des Cloizeaux
James Dwight Dana
George Jarvis Brush
Osgood B. Dane advertisement 1869-70










Alfred Des Cloizeaux (1817-1897)
French mineralogist Alfred Des Cloizeaux listed heulandite as associated with orthoclase, chabazite, stilbite, and quartz from the Milk Row quarry, in his Manuel de Minéralogie (1862). This is the only report of heulandite from the locality.

George Jarvis Brush (1831-1912)
George J. Brush, professor of mineralogy and metallurgy at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, assisted James Dwight Dana in writing the 5th edition of A System of Mineralogy, published in 1868. The new edition continued listing the Milk Row Quarry as a locality for chabazite, ilvaite, melanolite, and prehnite.

Osgood B. Dane (1817–1899)
Osgood B. Dane, the son of Osgood Dane, was born in 1817 in Dracut, Massachusetts. As a young man in 1839, he is listed as living in his father’s home in Lowell (Floyd, 1840). He married Margaret P. Staniford in Salem on November 25, 1847. Sometime before 1851, he moved to Somerville, where the city directory records that he was a stone dealer living in a house on Beacon Street. In the 1869 directory, he is listed as an officer of the Town of Somerville -- the Surveyor of Stone Work -- living close to the quarry, on Milk Street (formerly Milk Row), across the street from his father. In 1873, his occupation is recorded as stone mason; as late as 1891 he received a payment of $12.00 for labor from the city of Somerville.

In 1876, Osgood B. Dane was awarded a bronze medal by the Humane Society of Massachusetts for the rescue of two boys who had fallen through some ice on a pond. Sadly, only one of the boys survived (Forbes, 1876). Two days after the incident, the Boston Daily Globe published the following account:
"Somerville -- On Saturday afternoon, a sad accident occurred, by which a boy about thirteen years of age, named Arthur Cheney, was drowned, and another lad, named Clarence Donahoe, barely escaped the same fate. The boys were playing on the thin ice in Mr. Geldowsky's garden, Walnut Street, when the ice broke and left the boys struggling in the water. Their cries for assistance brought the help of Mr. Osgood [B.] Dane, who rescued the Donahoe boy, when almost exhausted, but the Cheney boy was drowned. (Boston Daily Globe, Monday Morning, November 24, 1873, p. 5.)"


1870s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1875 Dodge, W.W. Notes on the Geology of Eastern Massachusetts. Proc. of the Boston Society of Natural History 17:388-419.
1877 Wadsworth, M.E. Notes on the Mineralogy and Petrography of Boston and Vicinity. Proc. of the Boston Society of Nat. Hist. 19:217-237.
1877 Storer, F.H. On the Amounts of Potash and of Phosphoric Acid in Several Kinds of Rocks. Bulletin of the Bussey Institution 2:7-23.
1877 Dana, E.S. A Text-Book of Mineralogy (NY: John Wiley & Sons).

A portion of an 1874 map of Somerville showing the area of the Granite Street quarry.
A portion of an 1874 map of Somerville showing the area of the Granite Street quarry.
A portion of an 1874 map of Somerville showing the area of the Granite Street quarry.

Marshman Edward Wadsworth
Charles William Eliot
Francis Humphreys Storer
Edward Salisbury Dana











In 1870, the population of Somerville was 14,685[14], more than 13 times what it was in 1842 at its founding. As a result of this growth, Somerville was incorporated as a city in 1872. And this new city had its share of crime like any other. The following newspaper account describes an incident where an assailant fled to the quarry, here called Dane's Ledge, after striking a policeman:
An Officer Assaulted
On Sunday evening, Officer Skinner was assaulted by one Dennis Dismond who ran up behind the officer and struck him a severe blow in the face with his fist. The officer’s jaw was dislocated, but he ran after Dismond and came up to him in Dane’s Ledge, where Dismond turned upon him. The officer struck him with his billy, and having put him in condition ironed him without difficulty. As the officer’s jaw was dislocated he could not blow his whistle, consequently he discharged six barrels of his revolver, which brought Officer McGarr to the ledge, and Dismond was taken to the station, where the officer’s jaw was set. (Boston Daily Globe, September 23, 1873, p.8)

In 1875, geologist William W. Dodge described the igneous rocks at the quarry: "The eruptive masses near the corner of Milk and School Streets, Somerville, are very varied, ranging from felspathic rock to hornblendic rock, often very micaceous, sometimes granitic by the absence of hornblende."

Marshman Edward Wadsworth (1847–1921)
Born in East Livermore (now Livermore Falls), Maine, M.E. Wadsworth graduated with an M.A. from Harvard, was a professor of mineralogy and geology at Colby College, worked for the Minnesota Geological Survey, and was the state geologist of Michigan, among many other accomplishments. As part of a report on the mineralogy and petrography of rocks in the Boston area, Wadsworth described the rock of the Milk Row quarry and its use as building stone. Harvard president Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) is thanked in this excerpt:
“This locality is one of the best and longest known in this vicinity, being the famous prehnite quarry of Milk Row, Charlestown, which is the name now given in our mineralogies to this locality, Somerville formerly having been a part of Charlestown...
The general appearance of the rock varies to quite an extent; in some places it is light brown or reddish from the predominance of feldspar, in others dark green to quite black. It breaks up into irregular blocks, which by disintegration form rounded boulder-like masses, and yield a reddish brown sand...
The resulting sand is composed chiefly of feldspar and altered biotite or rubellan. Veins of reddish feldspar and of feldspar and hornblende extend through many parts of the rock. The stone from this and other localities of the same kind has been used to a considerable extent in Boston, Cambridge, Medford, Malden, Somerville, Brighton, and other towns, for basement walls, under pinning, steps, posts, fence walls, etc., and, when it is used above ground it compares very favorably with the other building stones used beside it, especially when hewn, a fact which is quite surprising when we consider its ready disintegration in the parent bed. The oldest monument of its use in Cambridge, that I know of is the old mile stone, now standing near Dane Hall, which bears date of 1734. The front of the building now occupied by the Cambridge Gas Light Company at Harvard Square is of this rock, and was erected in 1840. The mass of the rock is too sombre to be used to any very great extent in edifices except with lighter colored materials, and, further, it would be well to make a most careful examination of it, where it has been used, before it is either condemned or accepted as a durable building stone. It is the principal building stone at Medford, and it can be seen on many of the streets in Boston particularly on the older and cross streets. My thanks are due to President Eliot for information upon this subject.” (Wadsworth, 1877)


Francis "Frank" H Storer (1832–1914)
Frank Storer, born in Boston, was a professor of agricultural chemistry at Harvard. He made the following observations:
"Rock, formerly called Syenite, from the Milk Row quarry (Dane's Ledge), Somerville, Mass., well known to mineralogists as a locality for phrenite [sic] and other minerals. From the analyses given below, it would seem as if this rock might fairly be classed as a diorite, though it differs very materially in texture and appearance from the diorites ordinarily found in the vicinity of Boston. The crystals of the minerals which compose the Milk Row Rock, unlike those of the common diorites of the region, are as large and coarse as those in the syenites ordinarily used for buildings; and the rock itself, though massive, compact, and tolerably hard, as it exists in the solid ledge, disintegrates rapidly when exposed to the weather, and falls to a fine red gravel, that is much esteemed for spreading upon garden walks." Storer analyzed a sample of the "original undecomposed, or only slightly decomposed, dark-colored rock from Dane's Ledge" and found it to contain 1.4640% potash and 0.539% phosphoric acid. (Storer, 1877)

On March 26, 1878, The Boston Post reported the death of quarry owner Osgood Dane:
“Mr. Osgood Dane, the oldest citizen of Somerville, died at his residence on Somerville avenue, Saturday night at the age of 91 years.”

Edward Salisbury Dana (1849–1935)
Edward S. Dana, born in New Haven, Connecticut, was the son of mineralogist and geologist James Dwight Dana. He was educated at Yale and was a professor of physics there. Dana served as the curator of the mineral collection at Yale from 1874 to 1922. He was the author of mineralogy books including A Text-Book of Mineralogy (1877) and the sixth edition of his father's System of Mineralogy (1892).

Granite Street Quarry

1880s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1884 Hawes, G. W. et al. Report on the Building Stones of the United States and Statistics of the Quarry Industry for 1880 (Washington, DC: US Census Office), 288, 292.
1885 Beekman, W.S. A Novel Mineral Cabinet, Random Notes on Natural History 2:2-3, January 1, 1885.
1886 Beekman, W.S. Advertisement in Tidings From Nature, vol. 2, no. 5, February, 1886.
1887 Hobbs, W.H. On the Petrographical Characters of a Dike of Diabase in the Boston Basin. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 16:1-13, Nov. 1887.
1887 Davis, W.M. Instruction in Geological Investigation, revised from a paper read before the Association of American Naturalists in Philadelphia, December 1886. The American Naturalist 21:811-825.
1889 Merrill, G. P. The Collection of Building and Ornamental Stones in the U.S. National Museum in: Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year Ending June 30, 1886, Part II, 435.

William H. Hobbs
William Morris Davis
George P. Merrill











According to Somerville city directories for 1883, 1884, 1887, the Granite Street quarry was operated by "Linnehan & Fitzgerald," who advertised the quarry as a “granite" quarry. Edward Fitzgerald is listed as a “stone mason.” Charles Linehan was a wealthy contractor and landlord who lived in Cambridge.

Mineral Display & Library of W.S. Beekman c.1906
W.S. Beekman advertisement 1886
Railroad Station in West Medford, MA in 1885
Mineral Display & Library of W.S. Beekman c.1906
W.S. Beekman advertisement 1886
Railroad Station in West Medford, MA in 1885
Mineral Display & Library of W.S. Beekman c.1906
W.S. Beekman advertisement 1886
Railroad Station in West Medford, MA in 1885
William S. Beekman (1867–c.1931): Mineral Collector and Dealer
William S. Beekman was a chemist and avid mineral collector living in West Medford, Massachusetts. He sold minerals by advertising in magazines beginning at about age 18 in 1885. One of the minerals listed in his ads was “Green Prehnite” from Massachusetts. It's not stated in the ads, but in all probability his source for these specimens was the nearby Granite Street quarry, as is evidenced by a note in the July, 1885 issue of The Museum, a Philadelphia-based periodical:
"The mineralogical collection of Mr. W.S. Beekman of West Medford, Mass., is the largest in that section. It includes some very fine specimens of green prehnite from the old Charlestown locality. first worked by Prof. Dana It also contains some good specimens of crocidolite.”[15]


In the January issue of Random Notes on Natural History, Beekman gave a detailed description of the new railroad station in his West Medford neighborhood, which featured local and worldwide rocks and minerals in its walls. The inclusion of Charlestown and Somerville in the list of localities makes it likely that one or more specimens were from the Granite Street quarry.

A Novel Mineral Cabinet
"A depot in course of erection at West Medford, Mass., in the materials of its construction presents a new departure in building, and calls forth admiration from all lovers of natural objects. The walls of the building are of field rock with freestone trimmings. Care has been taken to select striking pieces, and they have been set as roughly as possible, the spaces between being filled with showy minerals. A large slab of slate projects at one corner, and a huge water-worn rock, resting upon it, has a striking resemblance to a bust of George Washington.

In front is a tablet for the name, and this is surrounded by twenty-four polished squares of different granites, with round balls of red granite at each corner. A beryl crystal two feet in diameter sets on one partition, and a column of basalt from the Giant's Causeway, Ireland, projects as an example of blackness. In the bullions between the bay-windows are large brain-corals, shells, quartz on fluor, and smaller specimens of pink gypsum, rose quartz, etc. Other specimens are large and choice clusters of quartz crystals from Arkansas; apatite in pink calcite, Canada; geodes of quartz crystals, and chalcedony; noble serpentine; rhomb spar; galenite; pyrite; amethyst; malachite; purple fluorite; cyanite; garnets; and polished breccia; also fossil corals, fossil wood, and ammonites.

Among the countries and towns represented by the species peculiar to them are Siberia, England, Ireland, Cuba, Mississippi, Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Diamond Hill, R.I., Middletown. Conn., Medford, Charlestown, Somerville, Lynn, Fitchburg, Lee, and Newburyport,[16] Mass, Warren and Franconia, N.H., and Sebago, Me. It will rank as one of our most notable buildings, built with novel material, and presenting an object for much study. (Beekman, 1885)

Charles Linehan (1830-1904): Quarry Owner
Born in County Cork, Ireland, Charles Linehan (often spelled Linnehan) immigrated to Massachusetts in 1850 and found work in the granite quarries in Quincy. He saved some money, bought a horse and wagon, moved to Cambridge, and began working as a contractor, an occupation he pursued until his death in 1904. Linehan was involved in major construction projects in the Boston area including the Newton waterworks, Tufts College reservoir, and the Chestnut Hill reservoir. His contracting business employed as many as 700 men at a time. He also invested in real estate and became a prominent landlord in the region.

Edward Fitzgerald (1850-1893): Quarry Owner
Little is known about Linehan’s partner, Edward Fitzgerald. Records show he lived in a house at 21 Dane Street, Somerville, about 600 feet (182 meters) south of the quarry. In addition to his quarry work, he was a contractor, mason, and firefighter. He died at a young age, on June 3, 1893. A notice in the Boston Daily Globe (Sept. 29, 1893, p. 7) lists an auction scheduled for October 3, 1893 for his personal property including “single and double carts, single and double teams, harnesses, stone jiggers, extension top carryall, buggy and harness, sleigh, 2 good boom derricks...chains, bars, blacksmiths’ tools, ledge tools, etc.” The auction was to be held in East Cambridge on the property of his partner, Charles Linehan.

William Herbert Hobbs (1864–1953)
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, William Hobbs was a geologist with the United States Geological Survey from 1886-1906. In his 1897 paper, he discussed the results of his study involving the petrography of diabase and related rocks from localities in Medford, Malden, and Somerville, including the Granite Street quarry.

William Morris Davis (1850–1934)
William Morris Davis, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, taught geology for several years at Harvard, and he regularly led his students on field trips to nearby sites, including quarries in Somerville. In 1887, The American Naturalist published an article by Morris that was revised from a paper read at a meeting of the Association of American Naturalists in Philadelphia in 1886. In this excerpt from the article, Morris describes a visit with his students to a quarry in Somerville "near the Agassiz Museum" at Harvard. The quarry is not identified, but the Granite Street quarry was the closest to the museum:

The first excursion that I commonly take with a class leads us to an old quarry in Somerville, near the Agassiz Museum in Cambridge, where a large dike, some forty feet wide, cuts across the beds of the Somerville slates. There may be ten or twenty students in the party, and it should be remembered that they have had a preliminary course in elementary geology, in which nearly all the terms that we have occasion to use have been defined: they are also provided with hammers, compasses, clinometers, note-books, and outline maps of the district. On entering the quarry, I select two fragments of rock: one exhibits a fine, granular texture, with bands of alternating color, and is shown as the type of a bedded, stratified, or aqueous rock; the other is of crystalline texture, without arrangement in layers, and represents the group of massive, crystalline, or igneous rocks; and without further explanation than this, the students are asked to search out the area occupied by each rock, the line of contact and the phenomena exhibited along it, and to determine the relations of the two and the sequence of events in their history. Emphasis is given to the importance of personal work, and I take pains to say how much more valuable is the ability to determine the facts than the facts themselves. For several years it was my practice to point out the quarry-structure on the first excursion, thinking it too difficult for beginners to discover; but it seems now that that was almost a waste of time. It must be borne in mind that the students who are set to this work have already had in their preliminary course some account of just such facts as they now encounter in the field; they do not come to the task unprepared. Moreover, the attention of the class is not so well held by explanation from an instructor as by exploration for themselves. I therefore throw them at once on their difficulties; my own endeavor being rather to suggest observations and give encouragement than to answer questions. The questions are to be answered by the rocks.


George Perkins Merrill (1854-1929)
George P. Merrill, a native of Auburn, Maine, was appointed assistant curator at the United States National Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1881, and served as head curator of the Department of Geology at the museum from 1917 to 1929. In his 1889 report on the collection of building and ornamental stones in the museum, he described diabase from Somerville[17] and Medford:

“Massachusetts. Diabase is quarried for foundation walls, general constructive purposes, and monumental work at Medford and Somerville in this State. Samples received from these localities are, however, coarser, lighter in color, and much inferior in point of beauty to those just described[18] [from Maine].”


1890s: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1892 Dana, E.S. The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana, 6th ed.
1893 Upham, W. Deflected Glacial Striae in Somerville. Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History 26:33.
1894 Beekman, W.S. and Willis, C.W. Cycle Gleanings.
1894 Winchell, N. Editorial Comment: The Columbian Exposition. American Geologist 14:108-113.
1897 Rand, J.C. Minerals of Massachusetts, Part I. The Mineral Collector 4:163-164.
1898 Jaggar, T.A. An Occurrence of Acid Pegmatyte in Diabase. The American Geologist 21:203-213.

Edward Salisbury Dana
Warren Upham
Newton Horace Winchell
Nathaniel S. Shaler
Thomas Jaggar










Legal Troubles

Geologist Newton Winchell (1839-1914) reported in The American Geologist on the rock and mineral exhibits at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. In comments on New England building stones on display, he mentioned Professor Nathaniel S. Shaler's objection to using diabase from the Somerville quarry for construction of a new building at Harvard:

“A building stone that has acquired some notoriety was exhibited from Somerville. This is a decomposing diabase. Prof. N. S. Shaler protested against its going into 'memorial hall,' Cambridge, and prevented it. The owners, who lost the contract, brought suit against him for 'defamation of property,' but as there was no difficulty in proving that the rock is subject to rapid disintegration, and has decayed to the depth of twenty feet along the joint planes, they recovered no damages. This stone has, however, lately been used in the foundations of Hastings hall.” (Winchell, 1894)

In 1897, the Somerville board of aldermen declined to issue a blasting permit so that operations at the quarry could continue. According to the Cambridge Chronicle (Oct 16, 1897, p. 5), quarry owner Charles Linehan threatened to sue the city for $20,000 damages (the equivalent of nearly $600,000 in 2017), because of the board's refusal to grant him the permit. The quarry never reopened.

Warren Upham (1850-1934)
Born in Amherst, New Hampshire, Warren Upham graduated from Dartmouth College in 1871. He worked as a geologist first in New Hampshire and beginning in 1879 in Minnesota. Specializing in glacial geology, he is well-known for his work mapping and describing the geology of an enormous glacial lake, Lake Agassiz, mostly in Manitoba, Minnesota, and North Dakota – a project that took many years. Upham lived in Somerville from 1885-1893, on Newbury Street, near Teele Square. (He is the only scientist featured in this article who lived in Somerville.) While in Somerville, he embarked on a study of its glacial features:
”During my recent examination of the area of Somerville, the city of my residence... numerous localities having widely diverse courses of the glacial striae were discovered, testifying of great deflections of the ice currents. Elsewhere throughout glaciated regions the striae of any district are generally parallel, or deviate only slightly from one direction but here, probably more than in any other area of equal extent that has ever been thoroughly examined, the courses of glaciation have a very wide range, from south-southwest to south, southeast, east, and even east-northeast”

Upham reported the locations of glacial striae in the city and discussed its glacial history in a report published in 1893. At the Granite Street quarry, Upham observed glacial striae “on its northwest border with a direction of S.30° E.” (Upham, 1893)

Thomas A. Jaggar, Jr. (1871–1953)
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thomas Jaggar was awarded a PhD in geology from Harvard in 1897. In his 1898 paper published in the American Geologist, "An Occurrence of Acid Pegmatyte in Diabase," he described quartz-microcline pegmatite in diabase at the Granite Street quarry and at the Pine Hill quarry in Medford. In 1906, Jaggar was appointed head of the geology department at MIT. He later became a distinguished volcanologist, and was director of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory from 1912 to 1940.

Twentieth Century

20th Century: Mineralogy & Geology Records
1902 Palache, C. and Fraprie, F.R. Babingtonite from Somerville, Mass. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 38:383.
1903 Loughlin, G.F. The Building Stones of Boston and Vicinity. B.S thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 1903.
1923 Washington, H.S. and Merwin, H. E. On Babingtonite. American Mineralogist 8(12):215-223.
1932 La Forge, L. Geology of the Boston Area, Massachusetts (USGS Bulletin 839)
1932 Palache, C. and Gonyer, F.A. On Babingtonite, American Mineralogist,17:295-303.
1932 Ford, W.E. Dana's Textbook of Mineralogy, 4th ed. (NY: John Wiley & Sons)
1946 Palache, C. Some Lost Mineral Localities of New England, Part 1: Granite Street Quarry. Rocks and Minerals 21:845.
1955 Frondel, C. Two Chlorites: Gonyerite and Melanolite. American Mineralogist 40:1090-1094.

Charles Palache
Gerald Francis Loughlin
Henry Stephens Washington
Herbert Eugene Merwin
Laurence La Forge
Clifford Frondel









Charles Palache (1869–1954)
Born in San Francisco, California, Charles Palache received his PhD from The University of California, Berkeley, in 1894. He came to Harvard in 1895 and became an assistant professor of mineralogy in 1902, and a full professor of mineralogy in 1910. He was curator of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum from 1923 to 1940. Palache is perhaps best known for updating Dana's System of Mineralogy along with coauthors Harry Berman and Clifford Frondel. The new seventh edition of Dana, volume I, was published in 1944 and volume II in 1951. Here Palache describes his first visit to the Granite Street quarry c. 1896:
"I came to Cambridge to begin my work in the Harvard Mineral Museum in the winter of 1895 and naturally looked over the collections early to find specimens from near-by localities which might still be available to a natural collecting pack rat...I wandered the streets of Somerville, formerly part of Charlestown, looking for Granite Street...It proved to be an alley one block long leading into a fair sized quarry opened into the side of a dike of diabase, a fairly coarse-grained fresh rock which had first been called syenite and then granite. This rock was quarried for foundation stone and especially for heavy square fence posts, many of which can still be seen along Cambridge streets...

The mineral veins were small and occasional but the bright green prehnites and snowy calcite of the vein centers were attractive. The veins were rarely open and then one might occasionally find one of the shining black babingtonite crystals, and they could also be found by etching out the calcite with acid which attacked the prehnite but slightly. My first visit was followed by many others, but it was years before I had accumulated enough babingtonite to yield a sample for analysis, and crystals good enough for a study of their forms." (Palache, 1946)

Palache and coauthor Frank Roy Fraprie (1874–1951) wrote a paper on babingtonite from the Granite Street quarry titled "Babingtonite from Somerville, Mass.," that was published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1902.

Gerald Francis Loughlin (1880–1946)
In 1903, while a geology student at MIT, Gerald Loughlin[19] (1880–1946) described diabase from the Granite Street quarry in his B.S. thesis, "The Building Stones of Boston and Vicinity." In contrast to what Prof. Shaler had said in objecting to its proposed use for Harvard's Memorial Hall (Winchell, 1894), Loughlin noted the stone's longevity when used in buildings:
"There is in Somerville, and also in Medford, an occurrence of coarse diabase, which has been used to some extent in buildings. The outcrops of this stone are very highly weathered, to a considerable depth, and have crumbled to brown soil on the surface; but the stone has lasted almost perfectly in buildings for 60 years. The diabase in St. John's Church in E. Cambridge, erected in 1842, is very fresh in appearance, save for the bleaching of some biotite grains. This evidence seems to indicate that chemical agents alone do not cut much figure in the weathering of building stone. In the outcrops, the water charged with CO2 and organic acids can percolate through the rock unmolested for ages; but rain that falls on a building is soon evaporated, and can do no great amount of harm.

The Somerville diabase consists principally of plagioclase, feldspar, augite, biotite, and a few grains of olivine. The absence of quartz and the dense form of the rock make it more difficult to work than granite. Its color is more sombre than that of most granite, and probably for these reasons, it has not been extensively used. The Somerville quarry is no longer worked. (Loughlin, 1903)


Henry Stephens Washington (1867–1934) and Herbert Eugene Merwin (1878–1963)
Henry S. Washington and Herbert E. Merwin, both geologists, studied babingtonite, including some samples from the Granite Street quarry that had been investigated by Palache. The Somerville babingtonite was found to closely resemble that from Arendal, Norway, the type locality. Washington and Merwin published their results in the American Mineralogist in 1923. After comparing babingtonite samples from several localities to pyroxenes, they concluded that babingtonite is not a pyroxene, but should be grouped instead with rhodonite, pyroxmangite, and sobralite.

Laurence La Forge (1871-1954)
Born in New York City, La Forge attended Harvard beginning in 1897, graduated with a B.A. in geology in 1899, an M.A. in 1900, and a PhD in 1903. For 17 years he worked for the United States Geological Survey as a field geologist, and author and editor of USGS bulletins. He also served as a professor of geology at Suffolk University, Tufts University, and the Teachers School of Science (Harvard Extension School). He is perhaps best known for his 1932 report, Geology of the Boston Area, Massachusetts (USGS Bulletin 839).

During his time as a student at Harvard (1897-1903), La Forge suffered an unfortunate accident while collecting minerals with Charles Palache at a quarry in Somerville, almost certainly the Granite Street quarry. According to Grace Dearborn of the Boston Mineral Club:
"Dr. La Forge can also be remembered for ignoring the loss of his right eye while a student at Harvard. He refused to call it a handicap. It is well for us to remember it and to take every precaution to guard against such an accident when mineral collecting and perhaps using a steel hammer head on a steel chisel. He was collecting prehnite with Professor Palache in Somerville when it occurred." (Dearborn, 1956)


Forest A. Gonyer (1899–1971)
Forest Gonyer was a chemist at Harvard who conducted a new and better analysis of babingtonite from the Granite Street quarry for a paper he coauthored with Charles Palache called "On Babingtonite," published in American Mineralogist in 1932. He also analyzed babingtonite from four newly discovered Massachusetts occurrences, in Winchester Highlands (Woburn), Deerfield, Holyoke, and Uxbridge.

William Ebenezer Ford (1878-1939)
Born in Westville, Connecticut, Ford graduated from Yale in 1899, and became an assistant to the mineralogist, Prof. Samuel L. Penfield. In 1920, he became a full professor of mineralogy at Yale. In the revised and enlarged, fourth edition of the Dana’s Textbook of Mineralogy (1932), Ford continued, at this late date, to include Somerville, Massachusetts [Granite Street quarry, though not stated] as an important locality for babingtonite and prehnite.

Clifford Frondel (1907-2002)
Born in New York City, Clifford Frondel earned an M.A. at Columbia in 1936 and a PhD at MIT in 1939. He went on to become a research associate of Charles Palache at Harvard. Frondel was one of the authors of volume I (1944), volume II (1951) and volume III (1962) of the seventh edition of Dana's System of Mineralogy. He was curator of the Mineralogical Museum and a professor of mineralogy at Harvard from 1946 to 1977. His article "Two Chlorites: Gonyerite and Melanolite," published in American Mineralogist in 1955, was the last scientific article discussing a mineral from the Granite Street quarry (melanolite).


MINERALS

Apatite Group Ca5(PO4)3(OH,F,Cl)
Wadsworth (1877) and Jaggar (1898) observed apatite crystals in thin section studies of the diabase.

Aragonite CaCO3
Robinson (1825), citing Nuttall, described aragonite from Charlestown as “acicular crystals in the syenite.” Hitchcock (1833) stated: “In that [sienite].... Prof. Nuttall discovered arragonite [sic].”

Augite (Ca,Mg,Fe)2Si2O6
Hobbs (1887) maintained that several prior researchers had misidentified augite as hornblende, including J.F. and S.L. Dana (1818), Webster (1824), Hitchcock (1841), and Dodge (1875). He observed that in one sample from the quarry. "...the cleavage of the amphiboloid mineral is so well developed that the mineral can be identified as augite in the hand specimen."

Wadsworth (1877) and Jaggar (1898) observed augite in thin section; Jaggar (1898) reported the following mineral assemblages:
1. “[sections] from the contact of a large quartz inclusion in the normal diabase at Granite Street show coarse ophitic structure in the diabase, with biotite, augite, and some brown hornblende.” 2. “...the triangular interspaces among the feldspars are filled with augite and secondary uralite, with magnetite, ilmenite and leucoxene, biotite and secondary chlorite, large apatite crystals, and some calcite.”

Babingtonite Ca2Fe2+Fe3+Si5O14(OH)

Babingtonite. FOV is 10.4 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Babingtonite on Prehnite. FOV is 9.9 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Babingtonite. FOV is 10.4 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Babingtonite on Prehnite. FOV is 9.9 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Babingtonite. FOV is 10.4 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Babingtonite on Prehnite. FOV is 9.9 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)

Palache and Fraprie (1902) gave a detailed account of the babingtonite from the Granite Street quarry:
“The occurrence of babingtonite at Somerville has long been recorded, but no adequate description of it seems to have been published. We first find mention of it in a description by Teschemacher of the minerals of the Charlestown sienite quarry, where it is called ‘hornblende in the form of oblique rhombic prism with modifications c, k, 1; crystals are small and black on white prehnite.’
In Alger's Phillip's Mineralogy, 1844, p. 79, it is stated on the authority of Professor Nuttall that babingtonite occurs at Charlestown and that this is the only American locality. No description of the mineral by Nuttall has been found, and Alger probably had the information privately from Nuttall. This statement was copied in Brooke and Miller's Mineralogy (1852) but appears never to have found its way into the American text-books, the only further mention of it being in Dana's System (1892), where although not referred to in the text, the mineral is listed in the Catalogue of Localities, p. 1059, as occurring at Somerville.
The babingtonite occurs in veins and pockets composed chiefly of prehnite, which traverse a large dyke of diabase. This dyke is well exposed in an old quarry, recently abandoned, on Granite Street, Somerville, formerly known as the Milk Row quarry, Charlestown, and it is from this quarry that the material here described has all been obtained. The mineral is not abundant, and it was only after several years of collecting in the fresh quarry openings that sufficient material for analysis and adequate crystallographic study was accumulated. In addition to the material now in the Harvard Mineral Cabinet, several fine specimens from the same locality were placed at our disposal by Mr. H. I. Johnson.
The minerals commonly associated with the babingtonite are prehnite, quartz, epidote, pyrite, chlorite, feldspar, and calcite. Other minerals reported from the locality are laumontite, stilbite, chabazite, melanolite (known only from here and a doubtful species) and chalcodite.
The babingtonite is usually in distinct crystals implanted upon, and in rare instances wholly embedded in prehnite. The crystals are often but slightly attached to the prehnite, and are therefore not infrequently completely bounded by crystal planes. They are generally small, rarely exceeding 2 or 3 mm in greatest dimension; but a few larger crystals were obtained, the largest measuring 1.5 x 1 x 4 cm... Granular aggregates of babingtonite are also found embedded in prehnite, composed sometimes of fine grains and again of individuals so large that cleavage surfaces of several square centimeters’ area may be observed.
The babingtonite is black in color and of a brilliant vitreous lustre. It is, however, very subject to decay, and when the protecting calcite has been removed and the babingtonite exposed to the weather it becomes dull and gradually alters to limonite, of which complete pseudomorphs are frequently found.”

"Biotite" K(Mg,Fe)3AlSi3O10(F,OH)2
Wadsworth (1877) observed biotite in thin sections of the diabase. Jaggar (1898) stated: “... in the diabase, dark mica and pink feldspar are very abundantly developed near the contact...In the hand-specimen, biotite is quite abundant in flakes two or three millimetres in diameter.”

Calcite CaCO3
Teschemacher (1839) noted carbonate of lime:
“... in small crystals with modifications resembling dog tooth spar; also in the form of the primary rhomb half an inch in length. In one specimen, the carbonate rested on green prehnite; decomposition, indicated by the deep striae in the lines of cleavage, had apparently commenced in the lime, and had been subsequently arrested, crystallization recommencing, as the sharp edges produced by decomposition were covered with an infinite number of minute crystals. Another specimen assumed the form of a nodule six inches in diameter, bearing a strong resemblance to the carbonate of iron.”


Jackson (in Hitchcock,1841) noted calcareous spar crystals in a vein in sienite: “The calcareous spar occurs crystalised generally in the form of dog-tooth spar. It is of a honey yellow color and is very brilliant.”

Alger (1844) reported rhombohedral carbonate of lime associated with prehnite. Wurtz (1850) noted: “Under the lens... white crystalline specks, which the analysis proved to be calcareous spar.” Wadsworth (1877), and Beekman and Willis (1894), reported calcite. E. S. Dana (1892) lists calcite, p. 1059. Jaggar (1898) noted: “in some places [in the open druses] a green amphibole and considerable calcite stand out on the walls having all the appearance of infiltration products.”

Palache and Fraprie (1902) didn’t observe crystals:
“Calcite occurs in both veins and pockets as the last substance deposited, filling up all the interstices of the other minerals. It is white and glassy, often in large individuals, but never, so far as observed, in developed crystals. Near the surface of the veins the calcite has generally been removed by solution, but away from the zone of weathering it seems always to be present, and all the finer specimens of prehnite and babingtonite were obtained by dissolving away the infilling of calcite with dilute acid.”

Chabazite Ca2[Al4Si8O24]·13H2O
Chabazite. FOV is 15 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Chabazite on Prehnite. Collected by Charles Palache in 1898. FOV is 13.5 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Chabazite. FOV is 15 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Chabazite on Prehnite. Collected by Charles Palache in 1898. FOV is 13.5 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Chabazite. FOV is 15 mm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Chabazite on Prehnite. Collected by Charles Palache in 1898. FOV is 13.5 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)

Webster (1826) was the first to report chabazite: “I have lately discovered crystals of chabasie in the sienite of Charlestown (Mass.) associated with prehnite.” And Hitchcock (1833) later states: “Prof. Webster, has recently informed me, that he has discovered in the same rock Superior specimens of chabasie and laumonite [sic]."

Teschemacher (1839) observed:
“Chabasie on prehnite, of a rhomboidal form is met with, measuring 94° 46’ and 85° 40’, generally of an opaque milk white color, and one sixteenth of an inch in size.”


Jackson (in Hitchcock, 1841) described chabasie in a vein in sienite as occurring “in very handsome specimens crystallized.” Alger (1844), reported: “The sienite of Charlestown, Mass., has... furnished many very good specimens of the colorless variety [of chabasie]” and noted its association with babingtonite and prehnite. J. D. Dana (1844, 1850) listed chabazite, and Dana and Brush (1868) noted the association of chabazite with prehnite. Des Cloizeaux (1862) and E.S. Dana (1877, 1892) also listed chabazite.

Palache and Fraprie (1902) reported:
“Of the remaining minerals recorded above from the locality one only, chabazite, has been seen by the authors. It occurs in well-formed twin rhombohedrons, pure white in color, implanted on a specimen of massive prehnite. The specimen was not collected by us and this mineral has not been found at the locality for some years.”

Chlorite Group
J.F. Dana and S.L. Dana (1818) were the first to note chlorite: “[Chlorite] occurs in thin layers in Greenstone and Argillite at Charlestown.” Robinson (1825) mentioned chlorite as occurring “in thin layers in greenstone and clay slate.” Comstock (1827) also listed chlorite. Teschemacher (1839) described “bright green crystallized chlorite” coating feldspar.

Wadsworth (1877) observed viridite [green chlorite] in thin section, describing it as a product of alteration. Jaggar (1898) also found chlorite in thin section: “Chlorite is the chief secondary product from the augite, filling all the cleavage cracks.”

Palache and Fraprie (1902) noted: “Chlorite is not common with the babingtonite, but is apt to occur intermixed with the massive form of the prehnite.”

Epidote Ca2Fe3+Al2(Si2O7)(SiO4)O(OH)
Waterhouse (1814) reported epidote associated with feldspar crystals. J. F. Dana and S. L. Dana (1818) made an early report of epidote: “...cavity is studded either with crystals of Epidote or Quartz, or it is filled with Hornblende.”

Teschemacher (1839) said: “Epidote is found in minute dark green crystals with the usual terminations.” Wadsworth (1877) also reported epidote. E. Dana (1892) noted the association of epidote with chabazite and prehnite. Palache and Fraprie (1902) reported: “Epidote occurs quite commonly in minute yellowish-green needles implanted on prehnite or coating and intimately intergrown with babingtonite and quartz. The crystals are not measurable.”

Feldspar Group
Feldspar, Epidote. FOV ~ 12 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Albite. FOV ~ 2 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Feldspar, Epidote. FOV ~ 12 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Albite. FOV ~ 2 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Feldspar, Epidote. FOV ~ 12 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Albite. FOV ~ 2 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)

Waterhouse (1814) reported felspar: “... in a vein traversing transition greenstones sometimes imbedded in and projecting from Epidote. Charlestown, (Mass.)”

J.F. Dana and S.L. Dana (1818) described feldspar from the “sienite” (diabase): “
At Charlestown a curious variety is found in a bed of Sienite in Greenstone. The mass is a union of singular crystals, which are either parallelopipedons or tables; they have generally a white nucleus surrounded by lamina of a red or green colour, which are perfectly well defined and distinct from the nucleus, the latter sometimes disappears, and the cavity is studded either with crystals of Epidote or Quartz, or it is filled with Hornblende. The blackish variety is found imbedded in Greenstone porphyry at Charlestown.”


Webster (1824) reported:
“In some parts of the bed the felspar predominates, and has a fine flesh colour; in one place the prisms of felspar are an inch or more in length, and cross each other in all directions, leaving angular spaces, which contain decomposing prehnite, and rarely, distinct crystals of quartz. These prisms of felspar are somewhat peculiar, as they uniformly have an exterior portion of a dark brown colour, investing the mass of the crystal which is of a lively flesh tint: when broken longitudinally the contrast is striking.
This sienitic greenstone is crossed in various directions by fissures, the walls of some of which are encrusted with thin layers of felspar; others are filled up with this mineral. It was in one of these veins of felspar that prehnite was formerly met with, but of late no good specimens have been found; I have noticed minute portions of it however in other parts of the bed.”


Robinson (1825) described feldspar: “... in sienite in masses composed of tables or 4 sided prisms, which have generally a white nucleus surrounded by red or green laminae.”

Hitchcock (1833) described a variety of feldspar in sienite: "In Charlestown a variety occurs in which the prisms exhibit stripes of various colors and some have proposed for it the name taenite on account of its resemblance to a ribbon."

Teschemacher (1839) said that feldspar:
“... is generally in a state of decomposition, which appears to commence from the centre. In one specimen, the prism was coated with bright green crystallized chlorite, interspersed with small masses of pure white and nearly transparent curvilinear prehnite.”


Des Cloizeaux (1862) noted orthoclase associated with chabazite, stilbite, heulandite, and quartz. Dodge (1875) stated: “The felspar is white, flesh-colored, red or gray; often well-crystallized. One specimen has crystals in which one face shows a white layer between two parallel red layers."

Wadsworth (1877) observed triclinic feldspar in thin section. Loughlin (1903)reported plagioclase. Jaggar (1898) describes plagioclase and microcline:
“In addition, a drusy quartz-microcline pegmatite is a common feature in the Granite street and Pine Hill (Medford) localities; this occurs in irregular lenticular or vein-like masses merging into the normal diabase by gradual transitions. Approaching one of these veins, the long white plagioclase crystals of the diabase are seen to acquire a salmon colored border zone of more acid feldspar; gradually the plagioclase gives place to microcline, and the long laths are replaced by short rectangular pink prisms; quartz replaces all the bisilicates, and in places the rock appears like a granite; in the open druses prismatic milky vein quartz overlying short, well-formed microcline crystals, with in some places a green amphibole and considerable calcite, stand out on the walls, having all the appearance of infiltration products."

Hobbs (1887) said: "The feldspar is shown by twinning striations to be plagioclase, which exhibits when fresh beautiful zonal phenomena."

Palache and Fraprie (1902) observed:
“Feldspar is found with prehnite and babingtonite in a few specimens, in the form of small imperfect pinkish crystals. They are similar in appearance to the pinkish labradorite of the enclosing diabase and were not further determined. This mineral is found only in certain pockets of oval form entirely enclosed in the diabase.”

Heulandite (Ca,Na)5(Si27Al9)O72·26H2O
Des Cloizeaux (1862) listed heulandite as associated with orthoclase, chabazite, stilbite, and quartz.

"Hornblende"
"Hornblende" (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)


J.F. Dana & S.L. Dana (1818) said of hornblende: “The long acicular crystals are partially decomposed, and are found shooting through crystals of Feldspar in some varieties of Sienite at Charlestown." and "...cavity is studded either with crystals of Epidote or Quartz, or it is filled with Hornblende.”

Webster (1820) commented: "Mr. [Amos] Eaton tells us that the rock at Charlestown, in which prehnite occurs, is a 'true greenstone.' The feldspar in this bed is abundant and distinct, nor are the quartz and hornblende less so. In the 'true greenstone' we have no quartz, but an intimate mixture of hornblende and feldspar... "

Teschemacher (1839) reported hornblende [See Babingtonite]. Dodge (1875) described hornblendic rock. Wadsworth (1877) stated: “The hornblende of the reddish feldspathic veins is in long black prisms closely resembling the augite and undergoes similar alterations. Uralite is found in small quantities.”

Hobbs (1887) maintained that several prior researchers had misidentified augite as hornblende [see Augite].

Jaggar (1898) noted:
"... in some places [in the open druses] a green amphibole and considerable calcite stand out on the walls having all the appearance of infiltration products” ... “Thin sections... from the contact of a large quartz inclusion in the normal diabase at Granite Street show coarse ophitic structure in the diabase, with biotite, augite, and some brown hornblende.” ... [In thin section] “...the triangular interspaces among the feldspars are filled with augite and secondary uralite...” [In thin section]...in several places a deep green amphibole was also observed, in well-marked basal sections, and without fibrous structure.”

Ilmenite Fe2+Ti4+O3
Jaggar (1898) observed ilmenite in thin section.

Ilvaite (?) CaFe3+Fe2+2O(Si2O7)(OH)
J.D. Dana (1854) reported lievrite [ilvaite] from the Milk Row quarry without supporting data. Dana and Brush (1868), Des Cloizeaux (1862), and E.S. Dana (1892) listed ilvaite from the site as well. Possibly, this was babingtonite.


Kaolinite Al2(Si2O5)(OH)4
Wadsworth (1877) noted kaolin as an alteration product of feldspar. Jaggar (1898) observed: “...we find the feldspars of the diabase kaolinized and salmon-colored in the zone next to the pegmatyte.”

Laumontite CaAl2Si4O12·4H2O
Hitchcock (1833) states: “Prof. Webster, has recently informed me, that he has discovered in the same rock Superior specimens of chabasie and laumonite [sic]." Teschemacher (1839) reported that laumontite is abundant. Jackson (in Hitchcock, 1841) reported laumontite in a vein in sienite "in very handsome specimens crystallized." J. D. Dana (1844, 1850), Alger (1844), Des Cloizeaux (1862), and E.S. Dana (1877) reported or listed laumontite.

"Leucoxene"
Hobbs (1887) observed leucoxene in thin section, as an alteration product of ilmenite.

“Limonite”
Palache and Fraprie (1902) observed limonite as pseudomorphs after babingtonite.

Magnetite Fe2+Fe3+2O4
Wadsworth (1877) found magnetite that when tested “showed no trace of titanium.” Jaggar (1898) observed magnetite in thin section.

“Melanolite”
Wurtz (1850) published a description of melanolite:
"It occurs as an incrustation upon the surface of the syenitic rock, coating the sides of fissures, and presenting the appearance of brilliant plates overlying one another like the scales of a fish. Its color is black; lustre, resinous; streak, dark olive green; structure, distinctly fibrous, somewhat like that of tremolite; feel soapy. Hardness, about 2; slightly translucent in thin laminae. The fibres are brittle. No cleavage was found... Qualitative analysis indicated the presence of carbonic acid, water, lime, soda, silica, oxyd of iron, and alumina”


J.D. Dana (1850) reported: “H. Wurtz (Private communication) ... It has something of a chlorite-like appearance, but is very brittle and coal-black in color, with the columnar structure distinct, but imperfect.” J.D. Dana (1854) referenced Rammelsberg's observation that melanolite is near hisingerite. Dana & Brush (1868) and E.S. Dana (1892) also note this similarity. Wadsworth (1877) observed:
“The melanolite of Wurtz is deposited on the sides of fissures by the infiltrating waters, and assumes a striated, imperfectly fibrous shape and gives rise to faces and appearances, similar, if not identical, with much of the so-called ‘slickensides’; on long exposure it changes from its original to a rusty brown color.”


Palache and Fraprie (1902) said melanolite is “...known only from here and a doubtful species.” Frondel (1955) stated:
“Melanolite falls in the composition field of delessite in the classification of Hey. The name melanolite apparently has priority over delessite, but in any case, it should be abandoned in favor of the widely-used name delessite... Melanolite occurs as dense, slickensided lamellar coatings along joint planes and fissures in the diabase. Thin films of a slightly ferroan calcite... penetrate between the foliae. Color black with a greenish tinge. Streak and powder olive green to greenish gray. The x-ray powder pattern is very similar to that of thuringite...”


Note: The Smithsonian has in its collection a specimen from the Milk Row Quarry labeled melanolite (no. R459300), with a note that it is magnesian chamosite.

Olivine
Loughlin (1903) reported a "few grains" of olivine.

Prehnite Ca2Al2Si3O10(OH)2
Prehnite. FOV is 10.4 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Prehnite, Epidote. FOV is 11.25 cm (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Prehnite. FOV is 10.4 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Prehnite, Epidote. FOV is 11.25 cm (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Prehnite. FOV is 10.4 cm. (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)
Prehnite, Epidote. FOV is 11.25 cm (Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum)


Warren and Jackson (1813) first noted prehnite from Charlestown, but Waterhouse (1813) was the first to describe it:
“Phrenite [sic]...Colour, white, greenish, light green and light olive green: stellated: crystallized in rhomboidal tables, one angle projecting, which is sometimes truncated; and frequently the two angles of the thin tables project, and they are also sometimes truncated. Disseminated through transitions of greenstone. Charlestown, M.”

Cleaveland (1816), referencing Waterhouse, said that the mineral “...occurs in greenstone and presents rhomboidal or hexagonal tables, or radiated masses, and has the usual colors of Prehnite.” Jameson (1816) wrote: “... it has been found in trap rocks near Boston.” J. F. Dana & S. L. Dana (1818) simply noted its presence in Charlestown.

Webster (1820) reported: "Mr. Eaton tells us that the rock at Charlestown, in which prehnite occurs, is a 'true greenstone.' The feldspar in this bed is abundant and distinct, nor are the quartz and hornblende less so." Webster (1824) states:
“This sienitic greenstone is crossed in various directions by fissures, the walls of some of which are encrusted with thin layers of felspar; others are filled up with this mineral. It was in one of these veins of felspar that prehnite was formerly met with, but of late no good specimens have been found; I have noticed minute portions of it however in other parts of the bed. The occurrence of the same minerals in the rocks of this country, which we have seen in those of Europe, either by personal examination of their localities, or by the interchange of specimens, is no small addition to the interest of our researches in the almost untrodden field which the geology of our country presents to us. The prehnite of Charlestown the most experienced eye would be unable to distinguish from that of France, Tuscany, or Scotland.”


Robinson (1825) noted: Prehnite, in greenstone [per Cleaveland]. This prehnite occurs in sienite with crystallized feldspar [per Webster]. Comstock (1827) listed: “Prehnite...Charlestown, Mass...in hexagonal tables – Waterhouse.” Hitchcock (1833) reported: “Prehnite has been found in the greenstone in the vicinity of Boston particularly in Charlestown... Prehnite, of superior excellence, is found there in the sienite... ” Shepard (1835), J.D. Dana (1837), and Jackson (1841) also noted also noted prehnite from Charlestown in "sienite."

Teschemacher (1839) described prehnite in detail:
“Prehnite is found there, varying in color from pure translucent and opake [sic] white, to fine apple green; some specimens are as dark and brilliant as the finest Chrysoprase. The crystals consist for the most part of aggregated groups with curvilinear faces. In one instance the form of aggregation was elliptical, imbedded in carbonate of lime. There are also crystals of the primary form, a right rhombic prism; the measurements by the goniometer were as follows; M or M’ on f 139° 45’; M on M’ 101° 05’; according to Phillips the last is 100°; the result stated however was procured from repeated observations.”


Alger (1844) described prehnite “...in very rich deep green crystals, associated with laumonite and chabasie in sienite, at Charlestown...” J. D. Dana (1844, 1850) described the prehnite as often "in minute tabular crystals, associated with chabazite.” Wurtz (1850), Shepard(1852), and Des Cloizeaux (1862) noted prehnite from the locality, and Phillips, W., Brooke, H. J., & Miller, W. H. (1852) noted its association with babingtonite. Dana and Brush (1868) reported that the prehnite is “often in minute tabular crystals, with chabazite” Dana, E.S. (1892) stated that prehnite occurs at the “Milk Row quarry, Somerville, often in minute tabular crystals, with chabazite, also with epidote”

Beekman and Willis (1894) wrote:
“...Granite Street quarry. This quarry has given forth some very beautiful specimens of green Prehnite, from time to time as the workmen come across pockets in the veins. Several hundred specimens of this beautiful mineral have been taken from this quarry, some of which were of considerable value. Calcite quartz, slicken-sides, and one or two other minerals occur here also.”


Rand (1897) gave the following report:
“The well-known prehnite locality is in a syenite quarry on Granite St. Many years ago, there were obtained here some excellent museum specimens of large size and fine color. The Boston Society of Natural History has some fine specimens on exhibition in its rooms, and almost every private cabinet hereabouts has in it a specimen of this mineral. The locality is nearly exhausted, and what may now be obtained is mostly in small specimens and fragments, though the quarry is still worked.”


Palache and Fraprie (1902) described prehnite as:
“ ...the most abundant mineral in the veins, always lining the walls and often forming the whole vein-filling. It varies in color from pure white to quite a deep green, which often fades on exposure to light. It has the characteristic drusy reniform surface of prehnite, the crystals rarely individual. Occasionally the crystals composing the globular or barrel-shaped groups are sufficiently distinct to show that they are tabular parallel to c (001) with edges formed by m (110) and sometimes also a (100). A single specimen showed a number of lath-shaped crystals attached by one end to massive prehnite, on which only the three pinacoids were present. Prehnite also forms fine-grained granular masses of dull white color.”


Pyrite FeS2
Wadsworth (1877) observed pyrite in thin section. Palache and Fraprie (1902) stated: “Pyrite is found occasionally in clusters of minute crystals resting on prehnite or babingtonite. The crystals are too minute and too poorly developed to permit of measurement, but they appear to be dominated by the cube.”

Quartz SiO2
J.F. Dana & S.L. Dana (1818) described cavities “... studded either with crystals of Epidote or Quartz, or... filled with Hornblende.” Webster (1825) reported “distinct crystals of quartz.” Teschemacher (1839) observed: "Quartz is met with in nodules and crystals; the latter small, but of the purest water, occasionally rising from the midst of pure green prehnite; in some the modifications n, h, l, 2, and i, l, 2 are visible.”

Quartz
J.D. Dana (1844, 1850) noted: “Crystals with unusual modifications occur sparingly at the Charlestown syenite quarry, Mass.,” and in the 1854 edition of A System of Mineralogy he added: “...one [crystal] from the cabinet of Mr. J. E. Teschemacher is represented in fig. 344 B. [left]"

Wadsworth (1877), E.S. Dana (1877, 1892), and Beekman and Willis (1894) also reported quartz. Jaggar (1898) stated: “... drusy quartz-microcline pegmatite is a common feature... Large inclusions of quartz, of irregular clastic form, are common in the... Granite Street outcrops. These fragments vary in size from a few inches to a foot or more in diameter; they frequently have a faint rose color; in some cases they are coarse vein quartz, in others quartzyte [sic].”

Palache and Fraprie (1902) noted: “Quartz is sparingly present, generally as small pellucid crystals implanted on prehnite. In one specimen, the quartz is in the form of capillary crystals stretching from wall to wall of small cavities in massive prehnite.”

Serpentine Group
Jackson (1841) reported serpentine in a vein in “sienite.”

Stilbite NaCa4[Al9Si27O72]·nH2O
Teschemacher (1839) reported: “Stilbite is found in cavities of prehnite, assuming the form of the rhombic prism without modifications; also with the modification a and c.”

J. D. Dana (1844; 1850) remarked that stilbite: occurs "sparingly" at the "Charlestown Syenite quarries, Mass.” Des Cloizeaux (1862) listed stilbite, as did E.S. Dana (1877, 1892).

Stilpnomelane Group K(Fe3+,Mg,Fe2+)8(Si,Al)12(O,OH)27
Wadsworth (1877) reported: “Chalcodite, which has only heretofore been found at the Sterling Iron Mine, Antwerp, NY, I have found in some abundance in this locality. It occurs in masses and pseudomorphs made up of minute flakes and also in stellated groups.”

Acknowledgements


Special thanks to Kevin Czaja, assistant curator at the Harvard Mineralogical and Geological Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for permission to access specimens in the musuem's collection from the Granite Street quarry to photograph for this article. Thanks also to the library staff at the Somerville Public Library for assistance in accessing old maps and documents that were used in research for this article.

Notes

1.The diabase is Jurassic in age, based on the age of the Medford diabase dike on the state map (Zen, 1983), and it intrudes Cambridge argillite (Cambrian to Proterozoic Z) (Zen, 1983).
2.In the 1770s, at the time of the American Revolution, Jonathan Ireland, Sr. (1719-1804) lived near the ledge, at the corner of Ireland’s Rangeway (School Street) and the Cambridge Road (Somerville Ave.). Jonathan Ireland, Jr. (1776–c.1843) also lived there (Cutter and Adams, 1910), before moving to Boston. A family member, John “Johnny” Ireland (c.1768-1842), operated a grocery store on the land in the 1820s and 1830s, evidently the only store in the area at the time. A large sycamore tree stood nearby with an orchard behind it. The tree was six-feet in diameter when it finally came down in 1905 (Stone, 1906). Mineralogists, geologists and students visiting the quarry probably stopped into Johnny Ireland’s store as well. From the late 1830s until 1840, someone named I.C. Clark operated the store (Boston Morning Post, June 2, 1840); tragically, it burned down on December 30, 1841 (Boston Post, Dec. 31, 1841).
3. The buttons of the soldier’s uniform were still intact. Dane summoned the constable, and together they reburied the body in Milk Row cemetery. This soldier might have been the one said to have been shot through the window of a house at the foot of Prospect Hill as he was pilfering (Frothingham, 1849). The following account was published in the Boston Daily Globe on June 9, 1890: “Osgood Dane, 73 years old, residing on Somerville av., said yesterday: ‘On Memorial Day I visited the cemetery on Somerville av. And was surprised to find that someone had placed a wreath of flowers on the unmarked grave of an English soldier, who was killed on the retreat of the British from Lexington in 1777[sic]. In 1853, while I was at work putting in a cellar for a house at the corner of Somerville av. and Park st., I came across the remains of a human being. Where the remains lay, there were buttons worn by the British soldiers of the revolutionary period. On finding the remains I notified Hugh Moore, then constable of Somerville, and we removed what there was of the body to the little cemetery on Somerville av. and buried it. I think that this grave was the only one decorated in this country of a British soldier of revolutionary days.’”
4.Beck, Theodric Romeyn (1813) Annual Address, delivered by appointment, before the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts, at the capitol, in the city of Albany, on the 3d of February, 1813. Albany: Websters & Skinners, 41 pages.
5.One of Nuttall’s students, George Putnam, invited him to visit the Putnam family farm in Sterling, Massachusetts. There they discovered spodumene, the first known from America, and then went on to visit mineral sites in Bolton and Worcester. On his return trip to Cambridge, Nuttall visited [metamorphosed] limestone quarries in Boxborough as well. (Graustein, 1967)
6.The name taenite is now used for an iron-nickel mineral usually found in meteorites. German scientist Baron Karl Ludwig von Reichenbach (1788-1869) proposed the name in 1861.
7.Wentworth (1909) reported a transfer from the Ireland family to Patrick T. Jackson (treasurer, Boston and Lowell Railroad): “I do not recollect that any land was conveyed to Patrick T. Jackson by the 'Ireland family,' except a parcel of land called the “stone-pit,” where Granite Street now is; which contained the only granite in Somerville, I am told, and from which probably was obtained material for the granite sleepers on which the rails of the Lowell railroad were originally built.”
8.Brooke and Miller, in the 1852 edition of Phillips’ Mineralogy continued to list Charlestown as a locality for babingtonite, noting its association with prehnite.
9.In 1946, Charles Palache was first to float the idea of state mineral status for babingtonite: “[Babingtonite] has turned up in so many places in the state of Massachusetts that it well deserves the place, if one were ever to be named, of State Mineral of Massachusetts” (Palache, 1946). It was designated the offical state mineral on April 24, 1971.
10.Hough (1850, p. 427) could not verify the existence of Shepard's Gouverneur babingtonite locality: "Babingtonite Locality Unknown. Said to occur in Gouverneur. After much search in the spot where it was said to occur, I am inclined to believe that if it was ever found there, it has become exhausted."
11.However, babingtonite has recently been reported from Diana Township, north of Gouverneur (Chamberlain et al., 1999).
12.The name by then had changed from Milk Row to Milk Street.
13.Delessite was suspected to occur at the Granite Street quarry long before Frondel equated it with melanolite. In 1891, nineteen-year old Gilman S. Stanton of New York City donated a specimen labeled “delessite(?)” from Somerville to the American Museum of Natural History, according to the museum’s annual report for that year.
14.The population of Somerville in 2010 was 75,754, per the US Census.
15.The crocidolite likely came from the granite quarries in Quincy, Mass.
16.Probably Devil's Den or Devil's Basin in Newbury, Mass.
17. "E. [Edward] Fitzgerald's quarry, Tenth Census, 1880." Edward Fitzgerald was one of the operators of the Granite Street quarry.
18.Addison, Vinalhaven, and St. George (Tenants Harbor), Maine.
19.Loughlin worked full time for the USGS beginning in 1912 and eventually became chief geologist. The mineral loughlinite was named in his honor.

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Comments

Thanks for the superb article--this would be perfect for publication in Rocks & Minerals (they tend to cover old Eastern US locations more than say the MR)! A really wonderful job on this---that first prehnite shocked me somewhat. I need to visit the Harvard Mineralogical Museum!! Thanks for the great work.

Dana

Dana Slaughter
16th Jan 2019 5:34am
Wow! Thank you for this brilliantly researched, written, and illustrated article on this amazing locality. Bravo!
- Kelly Nash

Kelly Nash
17th Jan 2019 10:52pm
Peter, congratulations on a phenomenal piece of work. Your research appears to be exhaustive and you unfold the story and its timeline in a most interesting manner. The thumbnail photos of the authors you cite, and the use of quotations from their writings is superb.


Donald B Peck
18th Jan 2019 5:50pm
This is a great article. Congratulations!

Ricardo Pimentel
18th Jan 2019 7:04pm
Much appreciate the time, effort and research required to produce such a fine compilation and accounting as this one! I was not previously aware of the history nor associations connected to this old quarry working, so I very much enjoyed the entirety of this work! Thanks again. Peter! Just wonderful!

Mark Heintzelman
21st Jan 2019 7:15pm
Peter

Great history lesson here, well researched and great pics/documentation.
Loved it.

Well done

Keith

Keith Compton
23rd Jan 2019 10:43am
You know I like a good resurrection of a "lost" locality such as this, especially when they are hidden in plain sight. Great job. Years ago I bought a prehnite specimen with an old label that just said "Somerville" (frustratingly like most old specimens) and gave it to my old friends who live in town, who keep it on their mantle. I didnt know where the quarry was until now and i will have to borrow it back next time I visit, which I hope will be relatively soon.
Cheers
Fritz

Harold Moritz
24th Jan 2019 5:15pm

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