Friday, January 4, 2019

Something Old ... Something New!

Taking advantage of both some unusual winter weather (particularly lack of snow cover), AND some solid leads, it was off to the Connecticut River Valley!

First stop was in an area of Northampton, which has its own bit of history: Laurel Park. I've visited here on one previous occasion to search out another old postcard of Boulder Knoll. Today's trip brought me in search of Sunset Rock. Surprisingly, only a small amount of effort was needed to locate the boulder(s) which were found in the undeveloped woods. In reality, this is a split rock formation with a very clean, smooth cleavage. Not terribly big, but the postcard is the work of postcard maker Eddy Make, who operated out of Ware MA during the early 1900s.

Rock Roof - circa 1870

The Rock Roof - present day.

A short drive to the north, landed me just over the Connecticut River and in the midst of a long time, but mostly dormant, project. Dormant yes - but not dead! An influx of antique stereoviews, from Amherst's renown photographer John Lovell, has found its way to me! So once again picking up where past investigations left off, identification was commenced on the unorthodox geologic formations. Among the long forgotten sites confirmed were Russell Rock, Titan's Quarry, Tripe Lichen Ledge, and Myra's Retreat. Updated information was obtained on Castle End, Rock Roof, and Kittie's Nook.

Present day at Myra's Retreat

In the end, today was only a small part to setting the stage for a much larger expansion on this project come spring time. In all, 10 'new' images would come to me. Some sites (like Kittie's Nook) were previously identified from written records. It only remained to see exactly what the photographic eye of John Lovell captured on his trips through the wilds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Finding Balance on the First Day

The image of a little know Balanced Rock near the Flag Rock section of Monument Mountain, provided the driving force for one First Day hike. The man behind this was Great Barrington Historical Society's, Gary L. The source was an early 1900s glass slide, photographed by a local man from Housatonic.

The Balanced Rock, near Flag Rock. Early 1900s.

Ascending from the 'back' (western) route, we made out way up approximately 675 feet of elevation to Flag Rock. Along the way, passing by some enormous boulders with their own cave-like formations. The view from Flag Rock, to the west, is nothing short of spectacular! Our directions had us bushwhacking to the south. Here, where the mountain began a steep drop off, we found our rock! One item of interest: the rock seems perched upon several small ones beneath. In effect, making this a pedestal boulder.

The Balanced Rock - Present Day.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sliver of a Chance

Several years ago a small cave was discovered in the southern Berkshires. This would normally not cause much of a stir, but what resulted was of modest interest. The 'cave discovery' was in a geologic formation know as a 'carbonate sliver', which, in this region, is a portion of marbles usually surrounded by insoluble rocks.

Analysis of the local bedrock geology maps, revealed several other of these 'slivers' in the area, including a previously known cave off to the north. Today was the day devoted to examining those other slivers, plus returning to the cave I visited once before - probably around 50 years ago. So starting our trek, Rhode Island Mountain Man and myself, first passed by a flooded Carbonate Sliver Cave (recent discover) on to the north. Out in the middle of nowhere, we examined the location of two slivers, lying in relatively close proximity to one another. The first showed almost no exposure of rock - the second, an insignificant depression adjacent to a sharp hill, being the sliver itself.

Mike tries to extract himself from the cave's depths

Following the drainage north from this sliver/hillock, we eventually arrived at the sliver containing the 'major' cave in the area. Unfortunately, the perimeter around the cave was feeding significant water to the underground. Although access was gained to the cave's entrance room, the passages beyond suffered from fill.

Banded marble. Wet interior.

The journey out provided at chance for a further examination of the sliver with little rock exposure. Back near the beginning, we looked down into the flooded passages of the more recent discovery.

Later that week, we dropped down into northern Connecticut for an attempt at finding the elusive Dutchy's Cave. The large flows of water that were noticed earlier in the week were even more omnipresent. We had a number of stream crossings to make and it was made difficult by these water levels. Much trudging about did not gain us our goal. We did have the pleasure of passing by Turtle Rock, on the Naugatuck River, during the journey.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Rockin' the North Shore

Small cave formation within Franklin Park

Back out on the road less than two weeks after my last trip ended. It all began on Day One with additional time put in on places visited during that previous trip. This was areas in the outskirts of Boston. It all began with a return to Hemlock Gorge and its Devil's Den/Indian Cave. Then swinging less than 10 miles (as the crow flies!) it was once again Mattapan where a more careful examination was made of the boulders first seen two weeks prior. It included combing the grounds for additional geologic treasures and I was rewarded with the discovery of a second large deposit of Roxbury Conglomerate boulders. With a short time remaining to get out of the City before rush hour traffic, I backtracked a bit to make a quick excursion through the Wilderness section of Franklin Park. Again, additional boulders of conglomerate came to light and the rediscovery of a small cave first seen some years prior.

The Devil's Pulpit - and possible Whitefield pulpit

My ultimate destination was the favorite campsite on Cape Ann and my 'trusty' GPS decided to give me a tour of some of the most urban parts of Boston, prior to taking me out of the city. But by Day Two, I was ready to continue the travel up into the more northerly sections of Essex County. Here a more thorough examination was carried out of the Nubble Squid rocks, part of the Clinton-Newbury Fault. An old favorite was next at the Devil's Den and Pulpit, followed by the diminutive rock Bummers Rock before finishing this day at with a lead hanging over from long ago: Frazer's Rock.

Frazer's Rock - very early 1900s.

Dungeon Rock @ Lynn Woods.

Kicking off the Third Day, I wandered down to an old favorite hangout in Lynn at Lynn Woods. This was mostly to update information on several sites, some well known, and some not so well known. Here, I covered Dungeon Rock, Union Rock, and Forest Castle. An old 1890s map found upon my return home, makes it clear there are many more objects of interest to be found. Wandering through Lynn, I took a quick look at a street with the name Echo Grove hoping it might provide a clue to an old stereoview of a location bearing that name. Once again, additional research provided the information it was another site within Lynn Woods. This day was finished up at Lynn's Lovers Leap.

Lovers Leap.

Lovers Leap - circa 1870s/80s.

An intentional light duty day was planned for my Fourth Day so I stayed closed to camp catching the famed Pigeon Cove shoreline, lunching at Lanes Cove, at finishing down by the Blackburn entrance to Dogtown. Here I updated photos of Tent Rock, a somewhat little know quarry down near the reservoir, and visiting five of Babson's inscribed boulders: Be True, Be Clean, Save, Help Mother, and Get A Job.

Ship Rock - early 1900s postcard image.

Day Five brought us once again to the end of another camping trip. Pulling out of town, I headed down Rt 128 to land in Peabody. Here, a visit to a very favorite at Ship Rock. After that, I stuck to the same moraine as Ship Rock to investigate possible boulders discovered on aerial imagery. Some very huge ones, exceeding 100 feet in circumference, were located. Definitely some of the best discoveries to come out of this area in years. Then eventually on to the Mohawk Trail to make my way back to the Berkshires.

The BMW Boulder. Over 100 ' circumference and 16+ feet high.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Quonahasset and other "long rocky places".

Memories of old resurfaced when September would bring me to the South Shore. One of my favorite campgrounds is here. Some of my 'rockiest' exploits have take place in this region. But with the passing of time (and ongoing process of checking items off my list) a somewhat different approach takes place! I needed to also visit the Cape and almost opted to make a second camp there. In the end, all excursions were run from seashore area of Plymouth County. And - a total of seven different counties were visited!

The Devil's 'own' footprint - along side that of a human.

One of the largest erratics on the South Shore.

The traditional 'scenic route' started day one with a couple stops along the Charles River in Norfolk County. This allowed me my first look at Big Rock, and a return for further investigations at Indian Cave. A couple minor rock samples were brought from the later to run an elementary geologic test. It was then on to Bristol County for a quick trip to the Devil's Footprint, the largest sized of this formation I've run across. Then it was on to the coast where a second look at the gigantic Damon's Rock took place. Following that, camp was set up and I still had enough time to take in Glad Tidings Rock.

Modern times @ Profile Rock.

On day two it was decided to take that planned trip out to the Cape, so a lot of driving lay ahead. Early morning started down on Buzzards Bay at Profile Rock. This relic from days gone by is mostly buried now by beach sand. Still: approximately 40% survives above ground level. Proceeding closer to the Cape Cod Canal (where some say is the 'official' beginning of the Cape) an old favorite in Chamber (Sacrifice) Rock began the Barnstable County part of my day. From there it was on to Hokum Rock and The Pebble/Devil's Rock. Sandwiched in between the latter two, was finally locating Alms House Rock. Alms House is another giant boulder that likely lays partially buried so its true height remains a mystery. It is mostly surrounded by heavy growth making measurements and photography nearly impossible. But I came up with something around 67 feet circumference and 14 feet high. Next time I shall bring the brush cutters!

Modern day depiction of 'The Cave' - aka: The Devil's Den.

After the heavy amount of driving during the last two days, I decided to keep it close to .. ' 'home'. Once again, this involved my traditional mix of 'something old - something new'. Early morning found me hiking into a small cave I've come to call Rattlesnake Den. Local history mentions a rocky formation by that name but it's location would be a bit farther away. I followed with a half-hearted attempt (drive-by only) to see if Sunset Rock might have a secondary access. One that would not take you through the backyards of the two owners. However, it is basically tucked in between the housing development and the railroad tracks that carry traffic between Boston and the South Shore. This was followed by Lawson Park and its memorial boulders (one of which is depicted on an old postcard), a couple quick photos of Hatchet Rock, and a quick drive by of Toad Rock. This then landed me on one of the most beautiful sections of South Shore coastline where a walking tour ensued to access the Old Man of the Rocks, Pulpit Rock, and Devil's Den/The Cave. After 'cooking' out in the hot sun it was a drive past the likely Aunt Betsy's Rock.

Tunnel Rock.

Outcrop with Emerson plaque @ Franklin Park.

A little farther distance on day four brought me close to - and into - the suburbs of Boston (thank God for the GPS!). A long return to the giant boulder in the Blue Hills once know as Grepon. It is around 100 feet in circumference with heights as much as 22 feet on the backside. There is also a neat little talus cave (10.5 feet long) in the rubble at one end. Next stop brought me to Franklin Park where I've had ongoing investigations into features from its past history. A more expansive trip was made through the area between the Wilderness and 99 Steps to seek out a possible Sunset Rock and additional perched/balanced boulders. Then across Circuit Drive to look into the rock and Emerson plaque at the Overlook on Schoolmaster's Hill. The walk back to the car was via a route through small ledges that are reported to be the remains of a quarry (now filled) that has been on a postcard as Lovers Leap/Bottomless Well. The 'gem' of the day was a jaunt over to Mattapan where a large accumulation of Roxbury Conglomerate boulders yielded the forgotten Tunnel Rock. I am also hoping the lost Fairview Rock (with the location 'Neponsett' [sic]) may lie nearby.

View out of Makepeace-Manly Cave.

After a rainy night, I broke camp and moved on out to the beltway around Boston to make a quick trip into Hemlock Gorge and it's Devil's Den/Indian Cave. Not feeling up to snuff, I planned to head home from here. But a good cup of overpriced Turnpike coffee got me ready to take on one more high value target! The stop was way back in Worcester County where I pushed on through some nearly impossible overgrowth to Makepeace-Manly Cave. This small cave formation is notable for it's inscriptions from area residents during the 1800s.

Inscriptions @ Makepeace-Manly Cave.

Friday, August 24, 2018

In Search of Caves!

Today's goal consisted of three sites in the southeast regions of Hampshire County. With an option, if time permitted, to wander up a bit north into Worcester County. In the end I had one success to show, from the primary three, before time ran out. However, it was a worthy find and the other two will be ongoing projects.

The initial stop took me into an area south of the Quabbin Reservoir, and west of the Swift River, in search of a small cave with 1800s initials carved into its walls. Besides the historical aspect, I've been interested in looking at small, weathered-formed cave formations in central Massachusetts. The purpose being to see if any similarities between them might exist. This was my second attempt in the area to locate this particular site, and again, it was not to be. But hopefully , through a process of elimination, a future visit will indeed bring me to its location.

The 'lost' Crystal Cascade

On the way farther east to do a bit of a long hike into a 'better located' cave, I made a pass by an area I suspected might be the site of a cascade shown on several old postcards. The road was narrow and dangerous. Parking nonexistent. And looked pretty much like private lands. So without additional information, it was decided to pass on attempting a hike into these woods.

Looking out through Boy Scout Cave

Finally, I arrived at what I hoped to be a worthy exploration: aA moderately long - entirely hot and buggy walk - up hill into the wilds of the Hampshire-Worcester County border. My final destination - Boy Scout Cave - was indeed located! It exceeded what I had expected! Not a weathered cave formation but the result of fractured bedrock and the dislocation of some of its sections. The cave could have potentially made a nifty Native American camp at 20 feet long and around 8 high. it is south facing and has a stream almost at its doorstep.

All-in-all, I think the general area leaves a lot to explore!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Overgrown pastures and Quarry Woods.

I'll preface this by saying the summer environment , dealing with the bugs, was horrific! BUT with a bit of history, the geologic background of Western Massachusetts, and a road trip: we had all the ingredients for another adventure.

Big Rock - as depicted on this real photo postcard late 1920s to 1940s.

Toting along a recent find of a real photo postcard, I descended down into the farthest corner of Hampshire County. My postcard did not identify the site by name, but the location written on the reverse side told me it was Big Rock, sometimes called Great Rock. I've seen this boulder a couple times previously but in my mind the photo just did not seem to match! Upon arrival (and scrambling through bushes) I did quickly confirm this postcard to the site. With foliage in full bloom it was much more challenging to come up with a good photograph as opposed to previous off-season visits.

Another side to Big Rock - depicted as Great Rock. Late 1800s.

Big Rock/Great Rock as it appears today!

Since I was already in the area (and dirty and bitten up) I went on over to the local soapstone quarry. A MAJOR operation in its day, this site shipped stone down as far as New York City. Now, just a massive rift in the Earth, it lies abandoned except to those who know where to look.

Entering the old soapstone quarry