North Buckhead's Rugged
Rock Quarry

Also see the North Buckhead Brownies visit to the Quarry here.

On April 25, 1999, NBCA sponsored a tour of a little-known area of North Buckhead, a 65 year-old rock quarry, right in the middle of  our residential area.  The tour was made possible by the graciousness of long-time North Buckhead resident and quarry owner, Bill Cummings.  Nestled between Carmain Drive and Glengary Drive, this 2.5 acre wilderness is a remarkable treasure.  The following is a micro history -- a great deal of information about a comparatively small part of our neighborhood.  It includes a lot of detail about the Cummings family history. 

The tour took about an hour. Attending the quarry tour were the following 9 people (and one gray cat belonging to the Cummings family):

Chuck Murphy, 506 Valley Green Drive
Don Deal, 238 Midvale Drive
Sue, Jessica and Gordon Certain, 5110 North Ivy Road
Waldraut Lavroff, 4250 Carmain Drive
Bill Cummings, his daughter and her friend, 4240 Carmain Drive


Note: all of the pictures below can be enlarged -- just click on the picture.  Original size pictures (1536 x 1024) are available on request by email -- contact NorthBuckhead@yahoo.com.


Bill Cummings said the quarry was active from 1935 to 1938, and that there were three more quarries in the area, all along Lake Forrest.

Bill is the current owner of the quarry. In 1951, when Carmain Drive was just a dirt road, his father bought the lots 6 lots from 4250 Carmain Drive, southward. Bill said his father had to borrow $24,000 to pay for the land. He thought it would be a good investment. In following years, Bill’s father developed a lot every couple of years as a hobby because he enjoyed it, not to make a great deal of money, which he didn’t.  Across the street from this property at that time was the Carmain Dairy Farm.

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Map showing quarry location

He said that at the time his father built the house at 4240 Carmain that there were essentially no trees. He said that the curvy tree in the front yard was very small when the house was built and was run over by a concrete truck. Mashed down to the ground, they thought it would die. Now it is huge, if shaped strangely.

When they started to build the house at 4240 they started to dig the footings, they almost immediately hit solid rock and decided to pour the footings directly on the rock. He said that the house has never shown any signs of settling!

Bill said that when he was a kid that Glengary Drive was only about 250 yards long and that there was a naval radar station where the extended Glengary now is. He said that it had signs around it. He believes it was built during W.W.II but was still active and staffed during the early years of the Cold War.

He remembers walking through the woods where Glengary Drive now is from his house over to McClatchey Elementary School on Loridans where GA 400 now is. He said that in the afternoon, a bunch of kids would emerge from the woods near the southern part of the quarry, returning from school.

Bill went to Sarah Smith, Dykes (now Sutton), and North Atlanta High School, graduating in 1966.

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Our "quarry tour" started on Carmain Drive
(left to right Walda Lavroff, Bill Cummings, Sue Certain,
and Don Deal)

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We start toward the quarry's rim.  (We were joined by
Jessica Certain, left-center,
and Chuck Murphy,  hat)

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We went from suburbia to a wonderful wilderness

Bill said that when he was a kid (perhaps he said 1956) his father asked him if he had anything planned that summer. He said no, and his father said that this was a summer that wouldn’t be a time for fun. The quarry was always filled with 18 inches of water and was an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. He said he spent the summer with a pick ax, digging out streams to carry off the water. He says it has stayed pretty dry since then.

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First Bill took us to the cliff's edge

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Then we began our descent into the depths of the quarry

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We went deeper and deeper

While it has been reported in the North Buckhead Civic Association Newsletter that the quarry walls are 40 feet high, they seem closer to about 20 feet high.

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The quarry's walls are vertical and fern and moss-covered

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All around the rim trees cling to the rock wall

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In many places the quarry's walls are moist

Bill says that in the wintertime, sometimes that whole wall of the waterfall becomes frozen.

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We were in a drought but the waterfall still flowed

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The kids were fascinated by the waterfall

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I stepped back toward the quarry's east wall to put the waterfall in context

The creek that feeds the waterfall comes from a spring up towards Loridans, which is strange because that is very near the highest point in North Buckhead, over 1,000 feet above sea level. Another spring in Walda’s yard also feeds into the quarry canyon. The creek exiting the quarry flows down between Carmain and Glengary crosses Buff Drive at North Ivy and joins Little Nancy Creek on North Ivy between Buff and North Stratford (about 850 feet above sea level). Bill and Walda both say they can hear the waterfall from their yards. Bill says he can hear it at night in the spring from his bedroom.

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Close-up of the
waterfall's wall

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The Certains pose by the waterfall's pool
(Note the construction debris, big pipe, at left)

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Walda Lavroff poses by the waterfall's pool

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Bill tells us about the history of the quarry

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More of the quarry's rim



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Note the tire and other trash at the waterfall pool.

LISTEN TO THE WATERFALL
(takes 30 to 60 seconds to load)

In 1978/9, I [Gordon Certain] hiked into the quarry, walking through the woods from the end of Glengary Drive.  At the time, Glengary was a short 10 house dead-end street off of North Ivy.  I saw the discarded tire there at the waterfall. It is still there in 1999. 

When the houses were built along extended Glengary in the late '70s, construction debris was dumped into the quarry. Even today, people dump yard waste into the quarry.

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Now we are looking southeast to the cliff's edge shown in the fourth photo, above

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To the right of the waterfall are more trees with exposed roots clinging to the rim

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Before we knew it the three girls had quickly scaled up the east wall

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After a half an hour of enjoying the wilderness, it was time to go

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On our way out, we again walked and climbed along the quarry's wall -- the central part of the quarry is heavily overgrown.

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Looking up at the spectacular overhanging rock  and trees

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At times the "path" is very rugged!

Raccoons, water moccasins and other wildlife live in the quarry bottom. We saw and photographed one hole in the vertical walls that had obvious signs of inhabitation.

Our [the Certain's] yard on North Ivy is 300 or 400 yards south of the quarry and is close to the creek that flows out of the quarry.  Our cat found a live copperhead snake in our back yard last summer.  We suspect it came from the wilds of the quarry.

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Trees precariously attached to the quarry wall

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Gradually, the quarry walls became shorter and shorter

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Some critter lives here!

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Finally, we got to the southern end of the quarry and walked into the Cumming's back yard

There is a very large white pine on the southern part of the yard at 4240. Bill said that when the house was built in 1951, it was as high as the present gutters on the house, or maybe 20 feet. It is now one of the largest specimens of white pines around. Bill said that he used to be able to hang from the lower branches of this tree.

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Large white pine

Bill said that living by the quarry was the neatest place for a kid to grow up.  We are sure it was.

For those who went on the tour, it was just marvelous that a place so wild and so rugged could be in the middle of a residential area in a major city. 

PLEASE DO NOT ENTER THIS PRIVATE PROPERTY WITHOUT PERMISSION!  For those who are interested in touring the quarry, please send an email to NorthBuckhead@Yahoo.com.  From time to time we will make the arrangements and secure a guide.  Wear long sleeves (thorns and ticks are a threat), old long pants, and non-slippery shoes that you don't mind getting wet.   Tour groups should be limited to about a dozen able-bodied people.  The price of admission is that you have to carry out a bag of trash, so please bring a trash bag.  

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