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.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blackstone: The Sequel.


Continuing on with investigations into the Blackstone Valley region, several towns in its northern region were picked out to work an accumulation of information I had in hand. During two days, I pursued the report of a Dead Man's Cave, House Rock, and Shelter Rock. Library and town hall visits got the ball rolling and I await further information from a couple local sources. A drive by in the approximate area House Rock is reputed to be in, did turn up a massive outcrop of rock.


Shining Rock

Visiting this area, allowed me to drop in on several sites first visited long ago. These included King Philip's Lookout/Lookout Rock and cave beneath, Shinning Rock (old quarry site), and a cave that came to light approximately 15 years ago. The cave was in an area threatened by development, but appears safe for the immediate future.


A cave entrance in the Blackstone Valley

Ending the two day trip, was an extensive search of the woodlands above the Rhode Island border for a rock shelter mentioned in an old archeological report. Numerous rock ledges were looked over but no positive id was forthcoming.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blackstone!


It has been a long time since a dedicated visit to the mighty Blackstone Valley. Oh - I do go through there on occasion, as a route back and forth to Rhode Island. And not long ago, about the only caves found there was the Purgatory Chasm series. More modern times have added to those. And it does depend on your definition of the boundaries for the Blackstone River Valley.

A recent lead brought me into the Valley about a dozen miles from Worcester. A stop at the library, and a connection with a local man, gave me the information I needed to pursue that lead. But first - a second visit to Upton's Stone Chamber (sometimes referred to as a 'cave') which is perhaps the best know of these structures in the Northeast. A lot of water in the main room so only a cursory examination could be made.

Next up, was also a second look, at a heavy area of talus on Peppercorn Hill. There are stories of Indian cave(s) here and I did a pretty thorough search a couple of September's ago. However, recent information gave a 'more definitive' location. This ended up being the same major pile of talus I had gone over before, and nothing of any additional significance showed itself.

Moving on, I wanted to look up the first burial ground in Town. Not too much trouble locating this and in the same general area was suppose to be a boulder. A rock mentioned in the WPA's Massachusetts Guide published in 1937. The boulder turned up visible from the same location I parked to hike in to the cemetery.


The 'W.P.A. Boulder'

Day one was finished up looking up the cave location and a good find it was. Looks to be two separate caves in the bottom of a small ledge. If this is indeed the correct location it would be Rattle Snake Cave, of which only one reference, have I found so far.


Cave discovery!

The second day was kicked off looking up an old site from long ago. Indian Cave, whose claim to fame were Native Americans using the area to harvest quartzite. Occasionally this cave has been know as Quartz Cave, along with a couple other names.


The Indian Cave

The remainder of the day - and trip - took me back into Rhode Island. The Cobble Rock area was visited, particularly to look over other rocky formations in the area. Connors Farm in Smithfield was checked out before heading home. This fine piece of conservation property was said to have 'caves'. What cave formations that may be here, are VERY minor - at best.