Monday, December 31, 2007

Past Trips - 2007

For those of you that are into such things - and want to take the time to sift through all of this - here are my notes in 'raw form' Without dates, or photos, but in chronological order starting with the latter part of the year and working back in time.

For most of you that know me - or have followed this page over the years - the time has arrived once again. Time to close out another season! Some good weather may still be in there and it will evaluated on a week to week basis. Once in awhile I'll even stick my head out into the cold. I've already got the beginnings of next year roughed out and plenty to get into. Worcester County, especially the Blackstone Valley area will figure prominently. Probably the South Shore and adjacent regions will be hit earlier than the normal September of the past few years. Rhode Island is still on the radar and there are more caves to get to. But for this past Sunday, cool crisp weather brought me out to the old site of Berkshire (trolley) Park - an area visited during January of this year. The big ledge of quartzite, the boulder 'cave', and possible sites for the Tower at Crystal Rock postcard were all once again visited. Time has just about erased all signs of Man's past in this area so I came away with nothing definite. The preceding Thursday was the annual Thanksgiving Day excursion on the Appalachian Trail. This year was near ideal with temperatures into the low 50's.

Rolling southeast across the Connecticut landscape, down into the very corner of the Nutmeg State, the first stop at dawn's early light was Bear (Den) Cave. Finishing here it was over the border into Rhode Island to reconnect with my 'new bud' Ted. We set off for a tour of Indian Cave, old quarry sites, and an old homestead foundation. Later, he drove me through town, showing the approximate location for a slave cave that was once part of the Underground Railroad. Pulling out of town, I headed almost directly north to work a local library (unsuccessfully) for information on a possible Indian Village /encampment site. Afterwards, I then directed myself westward, returning once more by way of Connecticut, catching the famed Frog Rock (almost one-half mile west of the Pomfret-Eastford town line; just north of Rt. 44).

With November here, and the end of another season in sight, I headed on down for two days south of the border - in Connecticut. On the first day a number of miles were logged on the Air Line Rail Trail, one of the many bike paths that have sprung up following old railroad right of ways. The second day was over to the west, on a couple of properties of the Roxbury Land Trust. The first was a large tract of land that once mined and processed iron ore. Remains of the old operations (carefully preserved) that can be seen include the blast furnace, ore roasters, donkey paths, and - of course - the old iron mines themselves. Nearby on the second tract visited (Brain E. Tierney Preserve) were fields, mountainsides, and a cascade.

Purely a reconnaissance mission on a cool, crisp, fall day. South (Berkshire) County was the location and Belcher's Cave was the destination. I am planning on using this information in producing a story, partially about the site of old Gill Belcher's counterfeiting operation. That story has been well told so this will focus more specifically on the cave itself.

Day One: Swinging on down into Washington County, Rhode Island, I made a quick pass through the Indian caves first visited back in August. Then it was on to meet my 'new bud' Ted whom I made the acquaintance of, also, on that August trip. Together we hiked on out to search once again for (another) Indian cave I had made two previous attempts to locate. Hours (and many miles) later we still could not find the cave! However, not to be totally thwarted, Ted is going to hook us up with a knowledgeable local individual on the next try. [Update: Two days later, Ted returned to the wilderness and located the Indian Cave.] Heading down to the ocean shore, I visited the site of Profile and Turtle Rock before coming inland a bit to Coronation Rock, where Queen Esther of the Ninigret Tribe was crowned in 1770. A little farther north was a reservation with a very special set of glacial boulders (small caves here) with significance to the local tribe. Also in the area, a possible site for Cup and Saucer Rock. Trying to work some cave leads, I journeyed up northwest towards the Connecticut state line before finally hiking off into the woods. Massive expanses of beautiful ledges were looked at, one small cave was found. Day Two: Long before dawn broke, I was

With November here, and the end of another season in sight, I headed on down for two days south of the border - in Connecticut. On the first day a number of miles were logged on the Airline Bike Trail, one of the many bike paths that have sprung up following old railroad right of ways. The second day was over to the west, on a couple of properties of the Roxbury Land Trust. The first is a large tract of land that once mined and processed iron ore. Remains of the old operations (carefully preserved) that can be seen include the blast furnace, ore roasters, donkey paths, and - of course - the old iron mines themselves. Nearby on the second tract visited (Brain E. Tierney Preseve) were fields, mountainsides, and a cascade.

Purely a reconnaissance mission on a cool, crisp, fall day. South (Berkshire) County was the location and Belcher's Cave was the destination. I am planning on using this information in producing a story, partially about the site of old Gill Belcher's counterfeiting operation. That story has been well told so this will focus more specifically on the cave itself. chugging up the interstate back into Massachusetts and Norfolk County. Descending upon a dead end road in a suburban neighborhood, I waited for first light. Then it was out into the marshes and across one major island before one final very brutal bushwhack brought me to the island of the Devil's footprints. Upon finishing here, I rolled on back into the Blackstone Valley where several projects awaited me. I had long hoped to find an easier, more sensible, route into a significant Native American historical site. More bushwhacking through the woods proved that is probably impossible. So next year, when the local business whose property I crossed in the past opens, a return visit will be made. Since I had work waiting for me later that night (Oh Boy~!), the other projects were put on hold and the return home was made

Hooking up with a stellar bunch of individuals from a local land trust, I returned to the eastern side of the Quabbin Reservoir. On this day a trail was cleared to Indian (Head) Rock. Although a significant amount of work was done, much more needs to be done, to bring the Indian Head out into the open once again. In years past there had been a magnificent view from the ridge where the glaciers dropped the big erratic some 10,000 years ago.

Smack dab in the middle of the big fall season and four more days on the road: Day One: Rolling into Essex County in the early morning, I returned to work some areas left after my spring visit. Saddler's Rock was first up. History records a couple other odd formations nearby including a rock with a "cloven footprint", a rock with a "child's footprint", and a rock split by lightning. The area is SO heavily developed now one would indeed have to be lucky to find those three sites. But a great view can be had (between two houses) from the top of Sadler's Rock. Dropping back into Lynn Woods, the Forest Castle was finally located, then I dropped in at Dungeon Rock (door open - so descended) to look up the "Sleeping Pirate" formation as well as the "Witch's Face". It became obvious the Witch needed exactly the correct lighting and shadows to make the illusion work - which it wasn't at this particular time of morning. Heading down to the coast I quickly looked up Sliding Rock and the Cliff Cradle once again but I suspected with the tide in, availability would be limited. And it was! I then headed to the north for my third visit to Ship Rock, finally catching some favorable lighting whenever the sun would slide behind the partly cloudy sky cover. Final outing of the day took me into the Essex - Manchester Land Trust woods to do some hiking and visit Pulpit Rock (and cave) and the Heap of Rocks, containing one very fine rock exposure along with a forest littered with erratics. Day Two: Hitting Rockport just after low tide, I scoured the shoreline for Profile Rock depicted on a couple of old postcards. I thought I saw it in the distance to the north, but upon arriving there, it was all for naught except for being at the edge of Chapin's Gully. After returning, and moving the car, I searched a bit more passing an old friend - the Great Gargoyle - and stopping a little short of the Frog Rock. So riding farther south, I stopped at perhaps the only public shoreline access in the vicinity. Looking to the north, I thought I could see the Profile Rock, and to the south - the Oldest Inhabitant, another humanoid rock formation. Next up was a section of Dogtown I had not yet visited. Some nice forest and of course the usual boulders and moraines. Scooting into town, I stopped at the local library and reference department (giving them a 'kick' out of the Old Man of Joppa postcard) digesting a couple books, and a few articles on local sites. Coming on down into Bass Rocks, I did my own study (photographic and other) on the region, reacquainting myself with the George Washington profile and locating a few other faces in the rocks. Next was Eastern Point and (Old) Mother Ann. Then on to the Stage Fort Park where its rocky shore got a look over. Day Three: Hitting the road before dawn even broke, I moved up the coast to Ipswich, passing by the Devil's Footprint, and arriving at the coastal beach for my trek up along the sandy shore. A bit more north was the Skull and the sun likes to rise almost over the rock making photography impossible. Locating the rock (not looking very skull-like these days) I finished up my work just minutes before the sun made it's way above the horizon. More to the north - and west - is a real big boulder - the Stickney Boulder. A couple of other rocks - Split Rock and Cradle Rock - are suppose to be in the area according to an early 1900's geologic piece on Essex County, but over the years Split Rock is the only other one that has showed itself. Journeying still farther north into Newbury, I checked on two sites. One is suppose to be the location of Gerrish Rock and a balance rock. There are several erratics in the area and for the time being I will go with the largest, most interesting one as being Gerrish Rock. But not much showed that could be called a balance rock, so nothing definite on this one. Second stop took me to the area of Haystack Boulder to look for others reported to be in the area from the aforementioned geologic piece on Essex County. Not much came out of this stop so I dove into the local history room at the library. Then returning several towns southward, I decided to give Martin's Rock another go. Between the town hall and library (same building) I finally discovered the rock - and school it use to be behind - are both gone now. So we can close the file on this one short of any other history and photos presenting themselves. Then into the woods once again for a look at the large - and small - Agassiz Rocks. The large is certainly large and up there in being one of the top three sized boulders in Massachusetts. Final stop was to quickly run into an old quarry site where the Chief Wingaersheek profile was suppose to exist. Definitely not looking very chief-like in modern times. Day Four: Dropping south out of Cape Ann, I had a report of sea caves to investigate along the coast. Also in town I tried (unsuccessfully) to gather more information on locations for the Three Sisters (3 boulders) and Tilting Rock. The best I could come up with was a couple names of people to contact in the future. I continued on down the coast to return to Sunday's site in the Cradle. Just past low tide, it was once again accessible. I drove around and around trying to find a back way into Lynn Woods mentioned to me on my Spring visit but this was to no avail. Sandwiched in there was a quick look in the northern part of town where an old book reported a cave to be. An interesting area but now packed tightly with residential homes. Afterwards, I packed it in and headed back on down to the Mohawk Trail stopping briefly in Fitchburg to measure Moses Rock. It's 'spring' was running despite the drought like conditions of the past few months.

[9/30]A beautiful fall day in the Berkshires and a chance to do something a bit different. On this day, two local historians - and authors - from South Berkshire, joined me on a trip to the remote and secluded Sky Peak Cave. [see view looking out of the cave at the bottom of this page] This is one of the sites sometimes mentioned in connection with the meeting of authors Melville, Hawthorne, and Holmes. However, most do not consider it a realistic possibility. Sky Peak exists in a series of ledges, providing very difficult access.

Lots to talk about after four beautiful Fall days on the road. Day One: Rolling towards the South Shore by way of the tri-county area of Plymouth, Bristol, and Norfolk counties, I dropped in on an old site: Devil's Rock. The Rock was said to possibly have a claw, scratch, or footmark formation somewhere up near the top. A rope ascent was necessary for this project and upon reaching the top, one with VERY vivid imagination might interpret one or two markings as some sort of Devilish formation. The next site was a real jackpot: The Devil's Footprint, thought to possibly be 'lost' was discovered. Interesting is that this formation resembles a king sized human shoe print. Slightly to the east, another town was the site of Solitude Stone with antique inscriptions out of the 1800's. More to the north, I dropped in on what was an early 1900's entertainment facility built upon a lake. Here lay the site from two old postcards Perch and Drum Rocks. Most signs of the old facility are gone now but the rocks still remain, the old views somewhat obscured by overgrowth. Turning to the east, I stopped to expand upon an earlier story I investigated about an old gold mine and a grand example of a stone face, now destroyed. Finally, I did arrive on the South Shore to set up for the next three nights. Day Two: In the very early morning light, I moved down the coast to the site of a couple famous rocks located along the shoreline. Lover's Rock (mostly buried in sand) still sits out on the beach. I then headed a bit south, and inland, to look further into a Pulpit Rock I started investigating back in June. Some nice hiking was to be had in the local woods but no rock was to be found. This is the same town that also has two listings of Devil's Footprints and information on all three sites seems to be in short supply. Further in from the coast lay a giant boulder laying in the back of a small park devoted to a herring run. Moving back north and out towards the coast once again, I picked up on an ongoing search into one town, who's history - including postcard images - is replete with stories of rocks. Here I finally found the long sought after Toad Rock. I took a shot at finding Aunt Betsy's Rock. The adjacent town found me in the local historical society chatting with the local expert on various sites in his town including Daniel Webster's profile rock formation. I then hit the road to look up Daniel Webster, tried to look up the Devil's Pot and Well (shoreline acccess nearly impossible here), stop by one more resident's house, and drove by the Devil's Punchbowl on a couple occasions. Jumping back into 'Toad Rock' town I passed by Bound Rock, saw Rock Raymond, and finally located Landing Rock, looking somewhat more submerged than in the golden age of postcards. Day Three: Taking a bit of a break from my immediate vicinity, I rolled northward through the morning traffic into Quincy. Looking for Benjamin Butler's profile, I was ultimately unsuccessful. One local expert (at the local fire station) thought Ben existed in an area of well know ledges but had eroded away. Then 'biting the bullet' I drove on in through the southern suburbs of Boston to eventually land up in Franklin Park. Here is a locale just filled with history. I set about hiking a large portion of the woodland sections, examining many of the perched and balancing rocks located there. Returning to a small cave found on my last visit, I found it unoccupied, as opposed to my previous visit where the cave was 'in use'. Eventually I did find one rock to match an old postcard image of Balance Rock at Franklin Park. But many other features from the Park's past remain unidentified. Not too far away were the Allandale Woods where pleasant hiking brought me to Table Rock, a small outcrop of the Roxbury Conglomerate topped by a small erratic. Afterwards, it was time to move on to the local library to work a cave lead on the area that has so far proved fruitless. I returned once again to the South Shore communities to take up some study time in a local library where a fair amount of information was gathered. This included stories of old mines and a cave! Day Four: I returned once again to a local harbor at dawn's early light to search one more time for the elusive Nubian Head Rock. I have to wonder if it's buried, needs a really low tide to view, or maybe it might be the one with a close resemblance I saw that morning. Finally before leaving town, I successfully sought out the Old Man of the Rocks and found a great possibility for Aunt Betsy's Rock. I dropped in once again (one town over) to take a few photos of the Devil's Punchbowl, drove one more town to see the 'Bouve Boulder', then moved on from the South Shore for good - at least this trip anyway. Norfolk County was the destination for my final three stops. Pausing briefly at the Oven's Mouth (small historical cave), I next stopped to further an investigation started previously on a cave, with two possible locations given. Not much was added to what was already know. Next I looked into the local Devil's Footprint but my finds were not conclusive. I made one more stop at an Indian Cave, coming across an old canal site, before heading on home.

As I await the much anticipated influx of cooler Fall weather, I swung on out into the northern portions of Worcester County. My goal was to hit three libraries for the ever important information. Two I had good contacts with and the third, I had never visited. Taking the third one first, I found it not to be open! Because of a ... road race??? So, I took the opportunity to take a quick look at the local State Forest, a possible location for a picturesque scene of some rapids on an early 1900's postcard. Moving on to the next town, next library, I was able to hook up with some local historical society members. The purpose here was mostly to see what they might have in the way of old photography, especially on the Cat Rocks, located last year. Not much luck with that but, lo and behold: the long lost location for Sunset Rock, sight of early 1900's KKK meetings was uncovered! Also in there: a possible location for a cave showing up on a old postcard of the area. Heading back to the West, I dropped in on library number three, reacquainted myself with my librarian contact and set to work sifting through their section of histories on the local towns. Luck was with me as I found the much needed publication I had intended to look for in the closed library. Here was an 1899 picture of the area's "Big Rock", largest boulder found to date in Massachusetts, west of the eastern coastal areas. AND: a story detailing a local cave! After finishing up on the library research, I headed back out into the heat and humidity to see if anything could be made of a site on a map from the 1870's called "Stone House". In the area from the map, a nice natural stone shelter (house?) was located. Moving back up - and out - onto the Mohawk Trail, I decided to ride it all the way in to the northern Berkshires in search of the Indian Head depicted on an old postcard. Once source told me they thought it could be viewed traveling west, but after my journey, I am inclined to believe it may exist in the rocks as one travels east.

Returning once again to the Connecticut River Valley, I was out to work the history behind four early era postcards. First up was a "boulder knoll" by prolific postcard producer Eddy Make (one Charles Eddy) out of Ware, Massachusetts. This particular site had quite a history all its own as the former location of a Methodist camp/retreat, now a community of some rather unusual looking homes. Afterwards, I began a more northerly trek up the Valley to look into the former site of some falls and dams. My host that day, Ed (thanks for the coffee and donuts!), gave me a good accounting of the history behind the stream, falls, factories, and dams that use to be part of the area. Next stop north was a lovely deep and secluded glen with numerous waterfalls and its own postcard showing 'profiles'. Although the rock formations exist to this day, I would say the profiles depicted (such as they were) were more an illusion of light than shapes and forms in the rocks. Next: I took advantage of being near a convenient spot to jump over to the eastern side of the Connecticut River and headed on south. Here lay, what I thought might be, the site of a giant boulder presented on another old postcard. A tough identification on this one, but with a few photos taken back home, I was able to confirm this old gem as the modern day "Devil's Football", or Edward Hitchcock's "The Magnet" from the Victorian Age of geology.

Three days were devoted to sites primarily in the "Ocean State" - or Rhode Island. Day One: Coming in by way of the Blackstone Valley, I headed to a state fishing area where a large boulder and Indian shelter were reported to be. No luck here - or at finding the local library open, despite its posted hours as being so. But nearby was the highest point of elevation in Rhode Island, so I took the opportunity to vist Jerimoth Hill. My next destination was a tough search to find. Two excursions into the hot, buggy woods, sandwiched around talks with local people, were needed to locate Indian Rock. Trolling on South, I made a quick visit to some Indian cave/shelters that I first saw some years back on an earlier visit to the area. Turning east, I made a quick pass through the area to search out Witch Rock but without additional information, this might be a tough one to uncover. Next, the highway took me toward the metropolitan areas of the State's capital where I was to set up for the next two nights. But first, I had to check out an inscribed rock on the shoreline of the upper regions of the Narragansett Bay. Slightly to the south, I unsuccessfully searched out a profile rock formation written up in an old news article from the 1800's. And still slightly farther south - cave formations existing in the suburbs of urban Rhode Island. Day Two: I had come prepared with six cave leads existing in the southwestern sections of the state. In the end, one was dropped due to time constraints and two turned out to be the same site. This left me four actual sites that were worked. The first stop of the day was successful. After a very muggy trek into the woods, and search through thick mountain laurel, "Narragansett Cave" was found. The second site was an area of already know caves and my directions were somewhat convoluted, so I suspended the search after awhile. I assume the lead may pertain to an already know cave but I'll work it at a future date. The third was the duplicate references but a moderately extensive length of broken ledges contained several respectable caves. The fourth turned into quite an adventure. A very rough location of the old farm where the cave was suppose to lie had been obtained from a local historical society member. Upon rolling into the area, more definitive information was impossible to find until a chance meeting with a local business man whose family name was that of the old farm I sought out. He was able to refer me on to another local man living near the old farm site who then took me to meet the present owner of the property and cave. But, despite two searches of the woods, the cave did not turn up! Another day, I'll be returning. Day Three: Another one of those unproductive - but very necessary days. I searched a ragged hill on the outskirts of Providence to see if any of the large glacial boulders pictured in past historical photos might exist. None found. I then rolled on into a town in adjacent Massachusetts to begin a search for Devil's footprints. Between the library and town hall, I could only come up with a couple names to contact. Back into Rhode Island, I tried to search out "Love Rock", an ancient land boundary and rendezvous spot for lovers. More contacts - however information in the local library suggested that another site I need to locate - Lover's Leap - may exist on this town's boundaries, with the town old postcards show it to be in. Finishing the day - and trip - I ended up in the suburbs of Worcester to look into another Devil's Rock. Slight success may have been found when a librarian heard of a rock with "shapes" but a visit to the area could not confirm this.

I had intended to examine caves located in the foot hills of the State's highest peak - Greylock. Construction on it's southern access road made that partially impossible. Coming around - and in - off a more northerly portion of the main highway allowed me to visit Sugarloaf - site of a number of small dens and caves mentioned in old historical records. Just prior to this, I had the opportunity to track down the site of a previously unknown (to me) waterfall which had turned up in a very old, and very rare, postcard. Lastly, I got to take a look at a 'historical cave' (not much of a real one) that was mentioned by famed cave explorer and author Clay Perry near Brodie Mountain. It consists of a large overhang with a couple of 'dens' extending back into the ledge.

Attending a very small paper/postcard show in the central Berkshire region, gave me the opportunity of check on a nearby report of a cave. In the end, what presented itself, was a karst area of the smallest order. It did indeed have everything there: one diminutive cave, others too small to enter, insurgence(s), a resurgence, and polished marble. Nearby was an old 'lime' quarry (Stockbridge Marble: Unit e), probably used to provide flux in the town's former iron manufacturing industry.

Venturing out into the sweltering heat, I had the opportunity to hook-up with the President from one of the local historical societies. We then proceeded to a local residence's home where an unusual rock formation had been unearthed in the process of landscaping. Photos were taken; and ice tea was served by our gracious host. The information gathered is going into an article for their local newspaper.

Two days of R&R were taken south of the border down in Connecticut. First up was an old section of the New Haven and Northampton rail line that has been turned into a bike path. This is also the very same route that a previous canal wound its way on up through the Nutmeg State. The Quinnipiac River Gorge was next, also a paved path from the former days of commuter traffic. Finishing off the first day was Meriden's Hubbard Park encompassing the spectacular Hanging Hills and Castle Craig. Below the cliffs, old carriage roads lead through the woods and the site of an old postcard showing a giant rock, likely tumbled down from the adjacent cliffs. In keeping with the theme of old trolley routes investigated in this area, the Connecticut Trolley Museum at East Windsor was visited on Day Two.

Near Fall-like weather in early July? Seizing the opportunity, I rolled back on into the Connecticut River Valley to scour the mountains for ledges, rocks, and caves. I had one more hunch as to the location of the lost "Warner's Ledge" to look over, so up the old, narrow, one lane mountain road the truck putted. Just past the falls formerly named Silver Cascade, I ascended on a path leading to a set of conglomerated ledges. A few caves presented themselves but no match was found for the ledge I was looking for. I decided to move on to another section of the mountain range to visit the "Home of the Rocks" from the Lovell/Peck project on old photography and writing of the region. While taking a breather, after trudging up a steep incline to the base of the ledges, I noticed a possible match for the antique image titled "Curve Rock - Looking South". This is one site I know the general location for but never could locate the exact site. However, the quality of the image I own is rather poor and I still could say for sure the site had been found. Moving farther along the cliffs I realized the lighting (despite foliage cover) was near ideal for photo shooting so I gave the Grand Porch another go. Descending down into the rocky vestibule out in front of the Porch, I rounded the corner into Titan's Pasture. Here lies a modest cave formed in the gravity slide manner that is known in this region of the State to cavers. After gathering information of this particular cave, and examining more overhanging caves just to the south, I returned to the highway to stop at a historical society in Franklin County. Despite their advertised hours concurring with the time of my visit, they were closed.

One of the corridors I often travel in heading East out of the Berkshires takes one down through Hampshire County. Just in the time spent on the highway one can visualize a veritable feast of geology and history. There's Chalkstone Ledge, site of an old soapstone mining operation. The same Town was frequently quarried for whetstones, important in the sharpening of scythes back in days of old. Farther along, rock is still quarried for decorative landscape use. Here we also have a Counterfeiter's Cave, a Devil's Den, and a Bear's Den 'Gorge'. Then we are brought into a town known both for a 'cave' where General Burgoyne reportedly stayed near, as well as a rocky abode one Rhena Meekins briefly resided in. But on this particular day I was returning to the Connecticut River, former land of big tobacco crops, to once again examine several ledges of conglomerate, yielding one small cave. Nearby one can stand at the top of a great headwall, or 'cirque', as described by eminent Amherst geologist Benjamin Kendall Emerson in an early 1900's GSA bulletin on the area. Next stop was to the South where I passed through the same Amherst and into the Notch. Taking on part of the M&M Trail, I visited the Horse Caves. At these massive overhanging ledges on Mt. Norwottuck, legend says Daniel Shay sheltered his horses on one particular night of the ill fated Shay's Rebellion. Likely, this is also "Devil's Cavern" listed in a late 1800's USGS geological bulletin.

Headin' on down into the Land of salt marshes and cranberries, it was a lot of mileage, a lot of 'leg work', a lot of talking with the folks, and yielding small - but still important - returns. Add in there five gorgeous libraries and all-in-all not too bad of an adventure! Day One: Rolling along most of the length of the Cape (Cod, for those not in the know) we reached Hokum Rock in the early morning hours. The name is derived from an Indian whose use to reside in its sheltering rocks and call out "Who come?" when he heard someone approaching. Then onward east to spend time in the first of my local library stops. Afterwards, heading on out to the ocean, Devil's Rock was found still sitting on the seashore much like it has since dropped by the glaciers many years ago. I had another report, of an Alms House Rock, in town but stops at the local historical society and town hall proved fruitless. [Update: In writing the local historical society, I was able to come up with a location for this rock.] Coming back to the west, I took a quick stop at an 'old friend' in Sacrifice Rock and took one more look at finding a companion boulder in Wishing Rock. Several rocks were seen but without something more definitive it would be impossible to put a positive id on Wishing Rock. Further to the west, I set up camp in one of Massachusetts' expansive state forests and after a brief rest headed on out once again towards the Buzzards Bay region. Here I tried to find landowners for the Indian Pound Corn Rock and another of the many Devil's (footprint) rocks. No luck at this point, brought me back to it's local library where I got a chance to look over some old archeological reports on the region. I left the library and cruised town looking for the 'Horse Neck' rock without success and took a shot at finding an 'alternate approach' to the local rock that 'Joe' has lent his name to. Then I returned for another try at Devil's Rock. This time I WAS successful! Day Two: Returning to just over the east side of the Cape Cod Canal, I worked my way south towards Falmouth. On the way I investigated a Great Rock from out of history (and a road named after it) but it was not to be found. Coincidentally (or not?) a large gravel pit seems to have taken over part of the area. I also looked into the site from an old postcard of some giant boulders on a local beach but they were not to be found either! So, I moved on down into Falmouth and Beebee Woods to look at a couple of its glacial erratics including George's Rock and Redoubt Rock. I next came northward trying to investigate a number of references from local history including the Devil's Dumping Ground, Where the Devil Broke His Apron Strings, an inscribed rock (Sal N Pry), and a balanced rock. In the case of the first three, access was near impossible due to discontinued roads and land restrictions. The latter (Balance Rock) was not found but (surprise!) housing has sprung up in the general area. I retreated to the local library to cull through some more regional history. Time to head back over the Canal and on up the coast! Stopping to visit White Horse Rock, I then ran past the former site of Nick's (now destroyed) Rock. One more library stop where my 'source' was not in, but gathering what information I could, I went on out in an attempt to find two sets of Devil's Footprints and, at least an access point, to begin a search for the local version of Pulpit Rock. Nada on all accounts and I slunk out of town to my next investigation: Wolf Rock. Ah - no luck here either and the local town hall, with limited hours, was not open! Day Three: In the early morning hours, I folded camp and moved on out to Rt. 495 in search of (the) Hand Rock. With some rough directions, I most likely located it but could not confirm it (or if it might be the same as an 1800's reference to "prints of naked hands and feet") as most local offices were still closed. I made a decision to return to two towns from the previous day and give it another go. I found the town hall, closed from the previous day, now open where great success was to be had. Following up, I went on up and located Wolf Rock with its old time folklore of a colonial couple taking refuge there with their three children from (you guessed it!) an attack by wolves. The rock had been lost to modern Man but recently 'discovered' in clearing land for a home. Then we gave the library, in the town where the Devil and his TWO set of footprints were suppose to lie, another shot but my source could not add anything to their exact location. BUT she was able to give me a bit more of a definitive location for Pulpit Rock. This I saved for the future. Farther to the northwest, in the extreme northeast section of Bristol County, I descended upon one more library (after lunching at Sachem's Rock) in search of that town's own Devil's Footprint. Could they be the same as an earlier reference to "Rock with hoofprints"? A modest amount of information was gleaned, including, indirectly, that the 'hooprint' rock may be the Devil's print. A 'footprint' photo was found, and in their book collection, a photo from another town mentioning Flowerpot Rock and its destruction for construction of the local Wal-Mart! Also 'found' was a librarian, originally from West Roxbury, who filled me in on what was happening down that way. I took a stab at finding the Devil's print but no go here. Bug (and tick) infested woodland made for a short, unpleasant investigation. This one will be worked on further at a future date. But time to head back out onto the highway home...

As I prepare for the next great adventure, quite a bit of research time has been put into the eastern end of Massachusetts - especially the southeastern portions. One old article surfaced from a late 1800's Syracuse, NY newspaper describing a cave in Middlesex County and how one local resident fell on into it. One has to wonder if it would still exist. Local libraries and local individuals have been most generous in supplying historical information and so a number of 'Devil's footprints' wait to be investigated as well as rocks/caves with Native American legends associated with them. And - holy smokes - Dan Webster's profile has just shown its 'face' in an old history on the South Shore area!

Near perfect weather gave the opportunity to revisit some old haunts from the past. This time it was the area of northwestern Worcester County. Initially skirting the perimeter of Quabbin Reservoir (and one wild turkey strutting across the road) the first destination was the Great Rock in the Woods. Originally portrayed in a late 1800's publication, it is one of the larger glacial erratics west of the eastern Massachusetts coastline. But Great Rock is not an isolated erratic, so on this visit I wanted to get an idea on the size of other large boulders scattered in its immediate vicinity. After accomplishing this, I moved on to another part of town to search out its local version of the Bear's Den. Although no real cave exists, a number of craggy ledges have been pointed out to me as the probable site of 'the Den'. Further to the southeast, a worthy cave does lie (well - worthy for this section of the State) in Cats' Cave. A large ice floe made negotiating it's vertical entrance somewhat difficult but one is rewarded by standing passage at the bottom. Moving a few towns to the northeast I dropped in on one of the many King Philip's Rocks across Massachusetts. Here on the River's edge it is told Philip stopped one night with his captive, Mary Rowlandson of Lancaster, whose written account of her captivity became an early American literary classic. Upon finishing here, I turned back towards Franklin County to see one of its own Bear's Dens tucked away in a conglomerate ledge just inside the wooded edge of an old farm field.

The rains finally abated and it was time to hit the highway. My first stop on this adventure took me into the Boston suburbs to check out the site of a "Devil's Den". While no cave presently exists, it is said in the not too long ago past one did before it was filled in. Close inspection leaves me with some doubt if a cave was ever here. Then on to a favorite of mine: the Middlesex Fells Reservation. An old map shows the location of "Cudjoe's Cave". Most likely this referred to a niche in the local ledge where some rock had been ejected out in the recent geologic past. I walked back by Panther Cave for a photo update before moving on a couple towns to the northeast to put some work in on Tower Caves. I am in the process of determining exact location for Tower Caves as they lay on the border of two towns - and two counties! Slightly more east - and north - brought me into suburbia where Indian Rock still exists out in back of a local neighbor's yard. The reference section of the local library was next for background information on the Pirate's Glen. Finally I pushed on into Pirate's Glen, relieved to see it - and its cave - still survive despite being surrounded by local neighborhoods. Day Two: At dawn's early light it was out to the coast. Rolling into Marblehead, a number of geologic features have been listed in its past history. Unfortunately, only minor success was to be had by visiting Castle Rock. This is a case where much more preparation will be needed before a return trip. Coming on down the coast, the next stop was Swampscott and home to The Cradle: a type of roofless cavern, or geologic rift in the seacoast rocks. Lynn brought me to Red Rock and a massive boulder sitting on the shore. After a little reconnaissance along a neighboring town's coast where old maps showed caves to be present, I headed back on into Lynn and its library where a bountiful harvest of information awaited me! It turns out the massive boulder on the shoreline was none other than Sliding Rock. Also Great Frog Rock was once known as the Great Dwarf Rock. I'm going to be a long time digesting all that came out of their reference department. Then tooting around town I took in Lover's Leap and Sadler Rock before heading on up to Lynn Woods. Despite covering a large tract of land in the Woods, my attempt at finding Forest Castle failed. I did make a large circuit that included Burrill Hill and Tower, the appropriately named Boulder Trail, Union Rock, and Dungeon Rock where information at the Lynn Library says a "Sleeping Pirate" formation exists. A quick run up to the north to check on a large boulder shelter used by sheep in the past was also fruitless. Any surprise: housing development has taken over the area. Day Three: This day started out early by heading north, up the coast, to Gloucester. Covering a tract of Dogtown to look for an archeological site, I took in vast expanses of boulder fields along with small boulder caves. Driving on up the western shoreline of Cape Ann, I came around its northern point to stop in at Halibut State Park. Here I checked into the possibilities of caves, saw some early signs of quarrying activity along the shoreline, and checked out the northern portions of the Atlantic Path. Afterwards, I drove south down the eastern coastline trying - once again - to locate rock formations pictured on old postcards. In this case, "Profile Rock" and "Rockport's Oldest Inhabitant" (a reclining rock-face formation) still remain unaccounted for. Moving inland I made another attempt at confirming the site of Martin's Rock. Nothing definite here and I'm beginning to believe the rock formation may no longer exist. With the afternoon wanning away, it was time to turn westward and home. But not before dropping in on northwest Middlesex County. Here lay two extraordinarily large glacial boulders known as House and Barn. Both, especially the House, rank among the largest in the State, west of the coastal areas.

[4/1] At this point we seem to be 'flirting' with Spring. Stretches of nice weather and then we go back into some that's not too nice. Also "not to nice" is a late winter illness that descended upon me just as a period of Spring weather arrived. But - with one day left in this present group of fair weather days, I decided to pack up, go out, and see how far I could get. It was obvious early on my 'bug' was not going to let me get too far. Heading on down into Hampshire County I picked up on an investigation started last year. Strange as it seemed, an old 1898 geologic map showed a body of limestone to exist within a much larger area of granite. The site was located and nothing obvious presented itself, but some interesting rock samples were collected and brought home for further analysis. Then on over to the eastern side of the Connecticut River where the hanging wall on a fault awaited me. This is the same area where Victorian Age photographs such as The Arch, The Fissure, Fern Cascade, Chain Cascade, Twin Cascade, and Gem Cascade were taken. I examined the fault wall for a distance south where one more minor waterfall awaited. Also in there is a conglomerate talus cave, possibly a match for the long lost Wild Cat Den. By then my legs and lungs were screaming "Mercy" and it was time to retire home to cold medicine and antibiotics.

We've not quite reached the Ides of March, but it seems Spring is trying to make it's breakthrough. Nothing productive accomplished on this day except filling my lungs with fresh air and stretching the legs in the outdoors. I trolled on through the northern Berkshires visiting a very small waterfall. It is a great time to do some good old reconnaissance work, looking off into the woodlands for rocks and ledges. Stopping off on the way home for some 'liquid refreshment', I struck up a conversation with a longtime Lanesborough resident offering plenty of information on one of my favorite towns! Looks like I'll follow the pattern I started in past years by heading on down into the Connecticut River Valley where the spring season gets a jump start on us up in the Berkshires.

As I look up from my favorite seat in the coffee cafe by the window, I am reminded of the old adage about how quickly the weather in New England can change. Brutal cold and winds swirl about the parking lot. Ah - but the high-octane coffee is warming as well as the project I've been working on. It was over half a year ago that I was lucky enough to stumble onto a collection of old newspapers in a Quabbin area library. Within those papers was an early narrative from the late 1860's by the Rev. David Peck describing areas within the Connecticut River Valley . I am almost finished with a transcription from those digital pictures taken during much warmer times. And a good half of Peck's story deals with a tour - by horseback - through those mountains. Many of those sites are familiar to me and as I go over his story, in my mind I can see his mountains, gorges, rivers, and cascades. Now those are the kind of thoughts to truly warm one's soul! Unfortunately the good Reverend died at a relatively young age or who knows what other wonders he might have described - and left for future generations to enjoy.

Ah - well: It was inevitable that the brutal cold winter would return. Not that I've never made it out during the cold. A couple past winter trips were quite memorable. One included a winter assault on Monument Mountain including it's Hawthorne's Cave with frozen waterfall. Also down in that section of the County I made a push into the purgatory known as Ice Gorge - at least to the beginning sections. Trying to traverse a rocky gorge with ice and snow laden boulders would not be too cool of an idea. BUT I am keeping an optimistic face on and hoping to be back on the road within two months. Two new cave leads await in Middlesex County. And much rocky seashore - some new to me - is to be explored in the early months of the upcoming season. Some, history records', is replete with sea caves, grottos, and other geologic curiosities.

The 'old homestead' lies less than a quarter mile from the trolley route that some years ago wound its way north through the Berkshires. Along the way was a park - Berkshire Park - that the Berkshire Street Railway hoped would drum up business for its fledgling trolley business. Included were a dance pavilion, carousel, and rides on burros. One old postcard even mentions the Tower on Crystal Rock. All signs have disappeared after 80 plus years but I decided to hike the ridge in back of where Berkshire Park use to lay and see what might be found. Nothing definitive on where 'Crystal Rock' and its tower might have been. But at the most advantageous spot on the ridge for a view (360 degrees without the present day trees) a large exposure of quartz was found, some white, some almost clear, including a 15 foot ledge right below the summit area. A little beyond lay a gigantic quartzite boulder with its very own cave!