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

Friday, June 15, 2018

In Search of ...Boulders!

Catching up again with 'South County's Finest', Gary L., the purpose of this trip was to hopefully locate Meetinghouse/Town House Rock in northwestern Connecticut We also had information on other boulders, from a town website, and planned a return to Tipping Rock.

It all began with a hiking trip to the top of Haystack Mountain where a pre WPA era stone tower is located. The descent took us past a couple of small quarries that had provided building material for mountain construction projects.

Quarry - and stone tower (background - obscured by trees).

Moving on, we covered several more area sites reported to have boulders, even a "gigantic" boulder, and a reported Sheep Rock. These all yielded absolutely nothing. A search was then started for the 'prime objective': Meetinghouse Rock. Two different sections of the old roadway leading to a long-abandoned town associated with the boulder, but we came up empty-handed. We did visit a splendid erratic recently discovered on a recent trip by Gary and a smaller one I found during the day's search.

A 'stone's throw' to the south (and a moderate walk) brought us back to Tipping Rock. A fine example of this type of phenomena. We first visited this boulder back in the Fall of 2014.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

No Place Like Home!

It always good to return to one of my "home-away-from-homes", this one being the Cape Ann area. In more recent years, the route to and fro have taken on a more 'circuitous' path as I still have many sites in need of attention with a lesser accent upon Cape Ann sites.

An unidentified 1901 image of Balance Rock

So on Day one of this adventure, I started by a long overdue visit to the Balance Rock Farm in Worcester County. A little over a year ago, I came upon some old photos showing the Balance Rock and other local sites. After checking in with the farm's owner, and once again visiting the namesake rock, it was on to a neighboring town and it's own local version of the Profile Rock. Frome here, it was deeper into Middlesex County for glacial boulders at the Landlocked Forest (which bumps up against the Boston Beltway highways) and a revisit to the nearby Paint Mine location. Finally, late in the day, it was time to swing on up to Cape Ann, checking for possible rock/Indian shelters (nothing here) and a walk through the Red Rocks climbing area.

Rayne Adams Boulder @ Dogtown

I originally planned the morning of the second day to be split between Dogtown, and reach the seashore for other projects, just before noon. However, Dogtown had me tied up all morning visiting locations in its northwestern perimeter. These included the Rayne Boulder (gravesite?), Peter's Pulpit, Whales Jaw, Wharf Road, Dogtown Square, and the Merry/bull attack boulders. Later on, I continued a casual, leisurely pace, once again investigating possible rock/Indian shelters, Rockport's Emerson Plaque site on Andrews Point and Profile Rock.

Peter's Pulpit - late 1800's Magic Lantern Slide

The morning of the third day was an abbreviated jaunt to more northerly sections of Essex County to finally bear fruit on a long ongoing project: location of the Nubble Squid which was mentioned in John Henry Sears' 1905 book on Essex County geology. Over the years, numerous searches of various locations were undertaken but produced minimal results. This significant rocky area (which I've read is part of the Clinton-Newbury Faultline) only got a quick, casual look, before returning to Gloucester shoreline for low tide. Down at the seashore, I explored possibilities (but nothing definite) for the Old Man's Cave (antique image) and a look at the nearby, very small, sea cave. Afterward, it was to the location of the Old Man of Joppa formation to try and get a more definitive confirmation on this site.

One of the entrances to the Old Indian Cave

Appleton's Pulpit - early 1900's postcard

The fourth day once again brought me off the Cape, down to the Saugus vicinity. Here I looked into the Old Indian Cave, a balanced boulder, Cannon/Phaeton Rock, Appleton's Pulpit, Shoemaker Rock, and the Pirates Glen.

Shoemaker Rock

Day five saw me pulling out of town late in the morning after breakfast and a seaside walk. Down to Woburn for Rag Rock then on to Fitchburg's Cogshall Park. Although I did visit Moses Rock, there are other features here than needing to be examined. Picking up the Mohawk Trail, it was westward on to the Berkshires!