The rock’s name: Junk of Pork

On Monday I shared a pair of doctored-up photos with you and asked you to identify the popular rock that was depicted. Today you can see the before-and-after versions of those altered photos … and hear some interesting stories from your fellow readers.

Junk of Pork, without the filters.

Junk of Pork, with some artistic license (and an iPhone app)

Many of you took time to play my first “outdoor photo scavenger hunt,” and told me your memories of the rock that has been a leaping-off point for generations of campers at Beech Hill Pond in Otis.

The rock has a name, as I told you previously. Actually, several. If your mom or dad or grampy or grammy called it “chunk,” or “junk,” we’re splitting hairs. Some have mistaken the “pork” for “port.” That’s fine, too.

Most of us who’ve spent summers at Beech Hill Pond have our own oral tradition when it comes to this special rock, I figure. And I have no problem with people defending different translations of the rock’s name.

On my map, it’s listed as “Junk of Pork.” The tale that was related to me when I was a kid too afraid to leap from its not-quite-death-defying height: “Picture Beech Hill as a pot full of baked beans. That rock? It’s the junk of pork.”

Apparently, some readers heard the same story. Here’s some of what they had to say:

From Keith Quackenbush, a Brewer High grad who now lives in Massachusetts, via Facebook: “Is that the rock on Beech Hill Pond? ‘Chunkaport or something. I have great memories of spending summers on Beech Hill and jumping off that rock. Still have pics in the family album!” (After being informed that he was mostly correct, Quackenbush posted a reply): “Awesome! You can take the man out of Maine for 24 years, but never the boy!”

From Tony Petrello, via Facebook: “Is that the rock out at Green Lake? I’ve been away for so long, I hope that’s the lake that I’m thinking of. We used to swim there from my friend’s camp when we were younger, and dive off.”

Close, Tony. (After a hint, Petrello, who attended State Street School in Brewer with me many years ago, correctly named Beech Hill Pond).

A boat drops off more potential jumpers at Junk of Pork.

The same photo, without filters.

From Jane Hewes, via email: “I believe that photo is of ‘chunkopork.’ I don”t know [why it is called that], someone thought it looked like a piece of pork, others say a piece of fat that comes off the pork.  My husband and my sons, now 13 and 10 have both jumped off the rock, approximately 18 feet above water a few times. I am the designated stay-with-the- boat-so-it-doesn’t-get-away person — VOLUNTARILY with a very anxious heart for the whole adventure to be over.”

My personal note: You’ll read all kinds of height estimates here. After looking at the photo again, I’m not believing that Junk of Pork juts 18 feet out of the water. I’m more apt to believe the estimate we’ve always used: Somewhere between nine and 12 feet.

From Mallory Searway, via email: “The rock pictured in your outdoor photo scavenger hunt has to be ‘junk of pork’ on Beech Hill Pond. That’s how I remembered it as a child anyway. I don’t know how it got its name or how high up it is. It’s been at least 12 years since I’ve been but I have many great childhood memories of that rock.”

From Calli Harmon, via Facebook: “I live on Beech Hill Pond with my husband Chris and our three daughters. We have lived here for almost 13 years. Our eldest daughter who is 6 years old jumped off the rock with her father for the first time last Summer! SHE WAS 5! It was SO exciting and as you wrote ‘a rite of passage’ Our middle daughter is 4 and we’re thinking that this is probably not the year for her, but definitely next year! Our youngest is 1 … lol … in a few years maybe. WE call the rock “Chunk of Pork” … we think that is the name. It looks like a chunk of salt pork in a bowl of baked beans. I am definite my husband knows the height, I’ll ask when he gets home. Before I ask him I will take a wild guess and say….hmmm, maybe 15 – 20 ft.? I’m not good at judging and I can’t remember what he said.”

(From Kara Jones,via email: “Thank you so much for your article. That lovely piece of rock is junk of pork at Beech Hill Pond, or  as my cousins and I used to call it, ‘chunk of pork!’ Because really, what does junk of pork even mean? My parents have had a camp at Beech Hill for 25 years and for me, jumping off of junk of pork was a summer tradition I shared with my cousins from New Hampshire. We would beg and plead with our parents to take us down to junk of pork. When we got there, we’d make the often treacherous climb up (that ladder was never very good and often resulted in scraped hands). I think my first jump was around 7 years old and that was because I wanted to do everything my older cousin Kate did. I think its only nine feet tall or so, but from up top it used to feel like a mile! My younger cousin would often climb up only to have to climb back down the ladder. Jumping off junk of pork was a sort of rite of passage in my family and we’d often compare how many jumps we’d made that summer.I look forward to hearing others’ thoughts about one of my favorite spots on Beech Hill Pond!”

from Dave Clark, via email: “I believe this to be what we always called “Chunk of Pork rock” on beautiful Beech Hill Pond in Otis. My family use to live on Beech Hill Pond. Growing up there was a magical experience and we still visit summers,  I have fond memories of my Dad and Mom  taking us out on the boat every Sunday afternoon to go swimming down at the big rock … we always took a picnic lunch and made a visit to the old Beech Hill Store by pulling up by boat and tying off at the dock. The old store has been gone for a long time now and  That was 35-40 yrs ago but wow what memories we have as a family being out there and enjoying the Pond especially jumping off Chunk of Pork rock! … I would estimate it to be about 18feet above the water when standing on top of the rock that would be my guess.”

from Lisa Bullard, via email: “The rock is located in Beech Hill Pond and, to my knowledge, has always been called Chunk-O-Port! My aunt used to have a camp located almost directly across from the rock and my cousin, Cheri, and I took the boat across to jump when I was about 16.  I climbed to the top, and stood at the edge with my knees shaking-I COULD NOT DO IT!  I had to climb back down the ladder, knees knocking, head hung in shame.  I just could not jump — scared the hell out of me.  Since then, my brother-in-law rented a camp for two summers, and my son and two older sons went over with their cousins to jump.  I am proud to say they gamely jumped into the water, multiple times, and loved it!  I enjoyed watching, but would not go myself-still a chicken at 47 years of age, lol!”

From Meg Lena of Brattleboro, Vermont, via Facebook: “Ah, my favorite place! my family’s camp sits just around the corner. I can’t count the times I’ve swam, kayaked, canoed — and even jumped ship from our sailboat to get to Chunk of Pork. I’ve jumped, dived, sun-tanned, drank a 12 pack of beer, danced, got attacked by horseflies, and watched fireworks and countless sunsets from atop Chunk. This summer’s big accomplishment was coaxing my 5 year old cousin to take the leap off the high side. Brave kid, couldn’t get enough of it! Oh, and that little one nearby with the tree sad pine tree growing out the top? That’s Chunk o’ Chicken, obviously.”

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.