Classified as a “noxious weed”, scotch broom is in rampant bloom here in Coastal Oregon. You see the bright yellow blooms everywhere you drive. It lines the roadways, it takes over entire hillsides, and you can see it spreading from one year to the next. Pollen from scotch broom used to give me intense sinus headaches as a child—it no longer does much but make me sneeze once in a while. The yellow pollen it makes in copious quantities covers our vehicles and anything else left outdoors in a thick layer. Even so, it is a beautiful plant and someone in the distant past must have gathered various species of it and put them here on the ranch, as we have it in many colors besides just plain yellow.
I really like this view from a landing on the hill behind our ranch house. There’s an old rock pit up there on the landing, no longer used, and it is marked as the “Barrow Pit” on our maps. No one seems to know why it is named that or who it is named after. It’s a steep climb to get up there but worth the work, every time.
I was planting some Scotch Bloom bushes here near Reno, Nv. and decided to Google them and I came across your site. I noticed the name “Barrow Pit” in your writings. We are in the concrete aggragate business and I believe the name is not a name at all but an adjective.
It must be a misprint because the term is usually “Borrow Pit” as in you borrow it but never actually return it. Is there a little symbol of crossed pick and shovel on the map? That usually means the site is of some sort of mining activity.
I hope that I am correct in this and thought you might like to surprise your friends by clearing up this huge mystery!
P.S. Our site is just east of Reno on I 80 at the Tracy/Clark railroad siding. We do +/- 60,000 tons of aggragate per month. The name “Barrow” is associated with the late 1800’s arctic explorer for whom the town of Barrow, Alaska is named after.
According to my dictionary, a “barrow” is a handbarrow or wheelbarrow, or a large mound of earth or stones placed over a burial site.
Your “borrow” pit seems like more probable explanation for the name of this site.
There are many gravel pits around this area, and people do indeed “borrow” gravel and rock from them if they are “left unattended”. Over the last 15 years, enough rock and gravel have been removed from this particular pit to level the top of the hill where it is located. They left a big hole, which we’ve had to barrier, so as to keep people from driving into it at night. We put up a gate to keep the local teens from driving up there and necking/drinking on weekend nights. It was a famous makeout spot, according to several local teens I’ve talked to, until we put up the gate.