OCC students working to memorialize Split Rock Quarry disaster site
CAMILLUS, N.Y. —
Walking around the Split Rock Quarry in Camillus, stepping over litter and reading graffiti sprayed all over the rock, one may not realize this is a place where dozens of people lost their lives.
"It kind of made me sad. No one really cares about it," Onondaga Community College student Seth Boyke said. That's something he and other students from the college want to change.
Nearly a century ago, the Split Rock Quarry was the site of a munitions plant manufacturing TNT for World War I. Tragedy struck in July 1918 when at least 50 workers were killed in an explosion that could be seen for miles.
"It was a dangerous job, but people still showed up to do it day in and day out," OCC student Alexis Daughton said. "They weren't at the battlefront and stuff like that, but they were making the products that the people needed to advance in the war."
The area has served a few different purposes since then, but now it's become known as what some might call a hangout.
"It's people partying and having a good time without caring about the people who lost their lives there," OCC student Seth Boyke said. A structure used to crush stone is the only piece of the from the era still standing.
"It's in very poor condition," said Daughton.
With the 100th anniversary of the deadly tragedy just months away, the students are now turning to lawmakers for help to clean up the area. Because the land falls under the control of the state, the students must get permission before clearing away broken glass bottles and graffiti.
Beyond that, the students hope to do more than just clean up the Split Rock Quarry.
"Maybe like a museum and tour of the place where someone who actually knows the history about it, who knows all the little details," Seth Boyke said.
The OCC students are vowing to work hard to ensure what happened at the Split Rock Quarry will never be forgotten.