Quarry Quandary: Keeping a hidden gem a shining jewel

Special Reports

There is a hidden jewel in Dorset, Vermont. One that has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today and many travel magazines.

It is one that people come from all over the world to visit.

A century ago, the Dorset Marble Quarry was providing marble for buildings like the New York Public Library or Harvard’s Medical School. But now it is a beautiful watering hole that has gained fame around the world thanks to media coverage.

Add to that the hundreds of YouTube videos of folks jumping from the sheer quarry walls, and you can see why the privately owned quarry can become a mob scene on any given day.

Dick McDonough is often there scolding thrill seekers who take it too far.

“Hey sir, no jumping off that rock,” he told one man. “Why?” the young man responded.

“Why? Because people have been injured,” McDonough said. “It is my property. Now get down or you can leave.”

And that is part of what makes the quarry unique.

McDonough owns it. It is not a park. It is not run by the village or the state. The property is privately owned.

“I cut the lawn; I pick up trash; I just paid to put up a porta potty,” McDonough said.

He’s even had to hire police officers to work the busy weekend.

Joe Lynn Ginese comes from the Washington County town of Greenwich every summer so her children can swim at the quarry.

“We like to come every season, and we like to count all of the license plates each time we visit,” she said.

On this particular day, there are 34 different plates and counting. Many of those visitors will stay at bed and breakfasts like the Squire House in Dorset.

Roger Squire owns the Squire House and says his guests love the quarry.

“We just had guests this weekend who were there several times,” he said. “They went for an early morning dip.”

Squire and the McDonoughs would love to see the Village of Dorset take over the quarry, which will relieve the homeowners of the burden and get a firm hand on things like alcohol use.

“They do some foolish things,” Squire said. “They get noisy. They break things, and they hurt themselves.”

When McDonough bought the property in 1997, he loved its beauty and its history. It has been available for 100 years, and he wants to keep it that way.

A Vermont law allows him to keep the quarry open to the public and free of liability. But the vandalism and littering has gotten out of hand, so a small group of volunteers have stepped up to help.

They don plastic gloves and pick up beer bottles, personal hygiene items, plastic and tin. But the McDonoughs and Dorset are looking for a solution.

They have offered to sell it to the village for $1 if they would manage the quarry.

So far no agreement has been made, so for now, the quarry will stay open thanks to the kindness of one man and his supporters.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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