cindery lot


Senior Member
… and then he had looked out toward center field, where a chain-link fence marked the boundary between the cindery lot and the weedy ground beyond that sloped into the Barrens. A figure was standing in those tangled weeds and low bushes, almost out of sight.
Source: It by Stephen King

In this scene, Ben was dreaming he was playing baseball with the other boys in the vacant lot behind Tracker Brothers’ Truck Depot. Derry.

What does the bolded expression mean? Whould it mean that the playing ground lot had been burnt?

Thank you.
  • JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    No (at least I don't think so). Bare ground that is covered or partly covered with dark gray gravel is sometimes called "cinders" or "cinder gravel." I'm not sure why - maybe because it looks like ground up lava rock (also called "cinders"). If you Google "cinder gravel" you'll see what I mean.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The early part of this book is set in 1958. Back then, coal was used a lot for generating electric power, for heating (not so much homes any more, most had been converted to oil heat, but large buildings) and still many railroad locomotives. Cinders were the hard part of what was left over after coal is burned. Crushed cinders (to make them smaller) were often used back then to cover running tracks and other athletic surfaces, because they drained faster than soil and provided a good surface for running - though not as good as the rubbery artificial surfaces that are used today.

    Apparently the baseball field was covered with cinders at one point, but isn't completely covered now. That's why it's called a "cindery lot," not a "cinder lot." However, it would be unusual to cover the outfield of a baseball field with anything. Usually, it's grass or whatever natural surface exists.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    The early part of this book is set in 1958.
    We still had a cinder running track at my school in the 1970s. The "cinders" were the by-product of steel-making discussed here. (Like the "slag chips" in fig. 2 in the linked page.)

    Maybe these cinders escaped into the baseball field: often running tracks run around a sports field. I know from experience that the "cinders" are extremely hard and scratchy to fall on!
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    UK English
    This is known in Scotland as 'blaes' - black or red - and was used for football pitches in schools and recreation grounds. It is still available for footpath surfaces.
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