Rollstone Boulder – Fitchburg, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Rollstone Boulder

In order to save this beloved rock, locals blew it up and put it back together piece by piece. 


In what may be the most drastic steps ever taken to move and preserve a giant rock, the Rollstone Boulder has been held together with an iron band, blown apart, and put back together again all to save it from the threats both natural and man-made. 

Weighing 110 tons, the Rollstone Boulder is a glacial erratic, meaning it was moved by a glacier, most likely from southern New Hampshire. It came to rest on what is now Rollstone Hill, where it became a popular destination for hikers and picnics. However as time passed, the boulder started to wear due to erosion from the elements and the quarrying taking place on Rollstone Hill. By 1899 cracks had begun to form which were filled with cement but this did not seem to be holding the boulder together and an iron band was attached to keep it from falling apart altogether.

Yet even despite these extreme rock preservation efforts, by 1929 the rock was still in danger of falling apart, and drastic action had to be taken to save the city’s beloved stone. The mayor of the town ordered the quarry to cease operations while the boulder was moved. The pieces were numbered, and the boulder was blasted with explosives (ironic since it was in an effort to keep it from being destroyed). The pieces were then transported to the city’s Upper Common where it was reassembled. In 1930 a marker was attached that reads: “This boulder, carried by the last glacier from Mt. Monadnock, New Hampshire to the summit of the hill whose name commemorates it, was for centuries a land mark to Indian and Settler. Threatened with destruction by quarrying operations, it was saved by popular subscription and reassembled here. 1920–1930.”

Today Rollstone Boulder sits on a small traffic island at the busy intersection of Main St and Rollstone Drive. Hardly an ideal (or safe) place for a picnic, but possibly the safest place for a fiercely loved rock.

Know Before You Go

Intersection of Main St and Boulder Dr.

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