Saturday, April 15, 2017

Across the Connecticut


I missed out attending the big Worcester County postcard show back in March due to unfavorable weather. But, I thought I'd take in a smaller show in Greenfield this past weekend. It also afforded me the chance to connect with Quabbin expert J. R. Greene.

After the show, I returned to my 'rocky friends' further south in the Connecticut Valley. A mysterious old image from a glass slide has surfaced with a theory it may be in Western Massachusetts. To me, it looked to be something very similar to what exists in the Mt. Toby region. So, I looked over two sets of ledges there.


The Cave

The first ledge is home to the marvelous Sunderland Cave, whose written record goes back to the early 1800's. The second set of ledges was once know as Graves Ledge, as it was the boundary to Mary Jane Graves' property.

The Twin Slabs and Willard's Point (upper R)

In the end, I was unable to positively identify the site of the old glass slide. But I did make use of the time to photograph a few of the sites previously done by John Lovell almost 150 years earlier.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rust Never Sleeps...


... or so it's been said.

With the (slightly late) arrival of a new season, I'll be putting that to the test. Returning from a significant medical 'calamity' may prove to be slow going. But only time will tell.

Something relatively close nearby was my objective. West of the Connecticut River, and in the Land of Hampshire County. This old lead had been kicking around for 20+ years and it finally go the 'do over'. Martha's Rock and/or cave with nothing more than a mere mention.

So into the approximate area I descended. Down into a stream valley brimming with winter runoff. Sweeping stealthily through the area, I eventually came up a significant possibility. A good length of ridge composed of rock Williamsburg Granodiorite. Near the middle of it's traverse, was a lofty rock outcrop towering above the stream below. Could this be Martha's Rock? No definite answers were forthcoming on this particular day.

Any 'caves' found were no more than small animal dens. The biggest one contained two eggs, likely belonging to some turkey vulture. On the way out, a couple signs of ancient quarrying and tool marks were discovered.


The Vulture's 'cave'

On the return home, a quick stop was made to look over an alternate access a local cave. The route used in the past has now been built upon. This one would involve a steep hike over a washed out woods road.

Monday, February 20, 2017

BAB 1819



The small pox den

Back in late March of 2016, Mike G. and myself made an expedition into the woods of Central Worcester County for the purpose of locating a possible smallpox den. The initial information was courtesy of a local man's map of historic sites in the area. It was also mentioned the initials BAB, with the date 1819, might be present at this site.


Markings at the small pox den

Mike and I were unsuccessful on that particular day in locating the 'cave'. But it was not for long! He returned in the Fall and located the site not far from where our wanderings had taken us. And yes - the initials BAB, along with the date 1819, were visible.


Thursday, November 17, 2016


To describe returning to the outdoors after such a long absence, is beyond the scope of this webpage. Five months after my last trip, and sidelined by health issues, it was practically a celebration, even though muted by my recovery efforts.


Mike on Reynolds Rock

Mike G., of Rhode Island fame, made his way into the Berkshires and I acted as mostly a tour guide to some of the local sites. The first of two days included an old trolley bridge, Centennial Rock, the Little Egypt Lead Mine, the Cole Farm Boulder, and Reynolds Rock. Later in the week saw the exploration (by Mike) of a south county cave discovered last year in a carbonated sliver while I was with Gary L. of Great Barrington. A quick run was made up to MJ's Cave, and a visit to one of the nicer Bear's Dens in Western Massachusetts and its associated Ghost Cave.


In the 'jaws' of the Bear's Den


This likely finishes my travel and exploration season for this year. I'll be working on coming back in the new year at 100%.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Return of the Conglomerate.


Ten to fifteen years ago, I had a major project going on in the Connecticut River Valley. It encompassed locating - and identifying - sites from old stereoview photography by John L. Lovell from Amherst. Also, noteworthy, were writings of this same area by the Reverend David Peck, pastor of the Sunderland congregational church at that time.

After numerous trips, the project went mostly dormant due to a lack of additional photography (there were well over five dozen stereos in one series alone) and an inability to locate certain sites. A small cache of stereoviews surfaced recently, and breathed a certain amount of new life into this long running project.


The Grand Porch as it appeared circa 1869/70

On this particular day, with new photography in hand, I was able to visit the long known Grand Porch and see exactly what view, photographer John Lovell had captured. Much tree growth prevented a modern replication of that 145+ year old view. Nearby, a final positive id was possible on the Kitchen and Pantry, and that was successfully captured with a modern day photographic view. Also re-photographed was the "Curve Rock Looking North" entry in the series.


Recreating John Lovell's "Curve Rock Looking North"

Moving along to another set of ledges, the newly found stereos presented a mystery. A second view of the same site. Possible? Lovell often did a couple - or even several - views at a site but they had different listings on the backview of the stereo. But at Pulpit Rock, we were presented with something entirely different: two different photos fitting the same spot on the backlist. I was not completely successful at identifying the new acquisition as being at Pulpit Rock, but I will hold that theory for future consideration.


Sitting upon the Pulpit Rock

This day's visit to the ledges was finished up with a well identified (despite lacking the antique photograph) Kittie's Nook and a chance to photograph it from a new angle. From here it was on to the Town of Leverett to look into some recently acquired conservation land and its ledges. Not much of geologic interest here, except a couple spots that show the effects of weathering upon the rock. Otherwise, just some nice woodland property.


A small cave once known as Kittie's Nook

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Great Northeast!


Time once again to visit the northeast portions of the Bay State. I used the traditional methods of way in/way out, which simply means catching some locations during the travels to and from my ultimate destination.


The memorial boulder to Asa Pollard

The first day brought me into Billerica where I quickly located the Asa Pollard memorial boulder. Asa was the first person killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill and the rock rest by the roadside, out in front of his old homestead site. Another stop at Gilson Hill, brought me to a suspected Indian (grindstone) rock which is informally known as the Rowell Memorial Stone. Numerous erratics dot the surrounding forest including a large one at a lower level, northeast from the summit.


The 'upper' - or Tower Cave 1

Moving deeper into the urban environment, an erratic of significant size was located down near Horn Pond in Woburn. From there, it was just a short jaunt over to the east to check in at Melrose. Visited here were Cleft Boulder/Chapel Rock, the Great Stone Face, Dwyer Cave site (presumably destroyed), and the Tower Caves, which are most likely over the town line in Essex. From here it was only to brave the city traffic to make my way up to Cape Ann.


The Ralph Waldo Emerson tablet - from an early 1900's postcard

Nothing significant was planned for this visit to the Cape. I made use of the time to relax and putter about. On the morning of day two, I dropped in to the rocks at Pigeon Cove. A long shot, but once a plaque existed somewhere on the rocks as a memorial to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Unfortunately, the plaque has not been seen in ages and its exact location unknown. But I used the opportunity to make my way south back to the Inn that bears the name of Emerson, looking over all my favorite old spots from years past: Frog Rock, Dick's Dream, Meteor Rock, the Great Gargoyle, Chapin's Gully, Pulpit/Singer's Rock, and others. A quick look at the Granite Pier proved it was once again usable (previous coated with horribly slick algae) for future kayak trips. Then brief visits to Lanes Cove, Poles Hill access, Red Rocks and other Essex County Greenbelt lands in that vicinity.


Pulpit Rock - from an early 1900's postcard

Day three brought me down to another old favorite: Lynn Woods Reservation. Over the years this location has provided much enjoyment and MANY rocks! I continued explorations both north of Walden Pond then to its south. A number of impressive boulders were seen, measured, photographed and catalogued.


The 18' high Goliath Boulder

The final day was scheduled to be an 'iffy' weather day. But the rains held off and the morning brought me down to Acton. After having Egg Rock in my notes for many years, I finally got to see it! Then just a quick jump to a nearby section of town to visit a 'cave' shown to me by Dan Boudillion many years ago. Sometimes know as Potato or Indian Cave, it is actually a stone chamber which has been nicely restored in recent years.


The Nashoba Brook stone chamber entrance

Completing my tasks in Acton, it was only to turn towards Rt 495, then down to the Mohawk Trail for my return home.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Mighty Connecticut


It was six years ago I began my adventures into kayaking. Early on, I had intended to visit the basalt formation at Titan's Pier. So many years later, I finally got around to seeing this unique, and interesting, geologic formation laying along the mighty Connecticut River.


Titan's Pier - early 1900's postcard

The conventional wisdom is to start a river adventure paddling upstream and that way you can take advantage of riding the current back on the tail end of your trip. However, with limited put-in possibilities, this had to be done in reverse. Titan's Pier was not far from the Oxbow put-in and quickly sited within the first quarter hour. After photos and an examination, it was decided to continue downstream and visit the dinosaur footprint park.


Titan's Pier - columnar basalt formation

The 'dino prints' were still a good distance to the south, probably about an additional three and a half miles. After putting to shore and disembarking, the site was visited. Then began the long paddle upstream which would eventually return me to the Oxbow.