Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- QUEERY

Do you know what a QUEERY is? How about if I spell it the way it is on paper? QUARRY. Yep, some people also call it a GRAVEL PIT. But I always thought it was a QUEERY until I left Harlan County.

My experience with a QUEERY was the one on top of Pine Mountain in Harlan County. When we visited my grandmother, who lived right down the road from the Pine Mountain Settlement School, we sometimes took the paved road (instead of the graveled, hair-pin turned, one-laned Laden Trail).

On the main road, we passed the QUEERY. If they weren't working and it was a fairly decent day, we sometimes stopped to take a look inside. That place was HUGE! I loved standing there and yelling to hear my voice echo off the sheer stone walls.

Sparkly Quartz from the QUEERY
I also loved walking around inside and looking for gravel remnants that had a little sparkle to them. Limestone, the type of QUEERY we had, contained a lot of quartz. What joy when I could wander around inside the QUEERY and load my pockets with sparkly quartz-infused gravel. At home, I gathered my rocks, dipped them in water, and watched them sparkle as I turned them in the bright summer sun.

Fossil fern from the QUEERY
Limestone also contained fossils. What fun when I came across an ancient fern or creature that left its impression in the stone. I could have spent the entire day roaming around and picking up treasures from the QUEERY. Unfortunately, my young pockets would only hold a certain amount. That, and my parents weren't quite as excited about rocks as I was. My mother preferred diamonds.

This QUEERY is where my deep love and appreciation for rocks, minerals, and gemstones must have begun. I still swoon for anything that sparkles.

I remember the huge trucks that used to transport gravel from our QUEERY across the mountains. Smaller stones were used for roads and driveways. The Railroad workers spread larger ones up and down the miles and miles of railroad tracks as a base for the ties and rails.

Walking the tracks for Quartz rocks
Those railroad tracks and the sparkly rocks strewn there kept me walking the rails often during the warmer months. Of course, I came home with my pockets crammed with the sparkliest rocks I could find.

We have a QUEERY here in Atlanta. Sadly, they don't allow anyone to get anywhere near it. When I drive by, though, my mind travels back to that amazing QUEERY on top of Pine Mountain and the fun I had there as a child. Funny how the best memories of childhood are the ones that didn't cost a penny.

Did you ever visit a QUEERY?

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