Sunday, December 8, 2013

Recon


Ah - reconnaissance. What can be said about the word that has lent so much to the world of caves and caving. Perhaps in a not so literal sense one could use the word as a search through history as well.

On one cold December day it took me out to a region near the base of the Taconics. And back in time as well, as around twenty five years have elapsed since my last 'reconnaissance' of this area. A cave was found here those many years ago by a couple caving associates and I was lucky enough to visit it with one of them. But the passing of time has brought a new generation of cavers along and one was interested in the site so out I went to try and relocate the cave.

Time has also changed the area significantly as large houses and large developments have encroached upon the old woodlands. A thorough search by myself failed to located the cave, and coordinates from the earlier era, may prove that it was covered - or destroyed - in the process of construction.

However, it has been found that coordinates from long ago are not always right on the mark so the cave may still be hiding out there. A second trip was planned soon after digesting all that came from the reconnaissance trip, but it seems winter may now delay things until spring once again returns.

For geo aficionados, it is an area laying in the C unit of Stockbridge Marble, which not far away, contains (at least partially) the renown Massachusetts cave Great Radium Springs. So although the cave that was sought is not significant in the speleological sense, it would be disappointing to lose. Either it's existence or location.


A resurgence in the Stockbridge Marble

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Of granodiorite and conglomerates



Glacial erratics in the Williamsburg woods

A two stop visit. The first took me to the land of Williamsburg Granodiorite and schists intermingled with quartz and occasional bits of pegmatite. This was a geology hike and field trip put on by the Williamsburg Woodland Trails

A lot covered glacial geology (kame terraces amongst the features seen) but a healthy amount of those schists, with quartz, along with granodiorite was to be found. According to local bedrock geo maps, some marble is around but not in this immediate vicinity. Unfortunately, our hike fell upon the extreme northwest sections of the Easthampton Quadrangle and, to the best of my knowledge, no bedrock geology map was ever produced for this quad. Normally there would have been some fine views (indeed - the name of the trail is "Big View") but VERY gray, overcast, and drizzly conditions were the order of the day.

Finishing up, I continued over to the Connecticut Valley if only for a brief trip to work on my old project involving antique photography of rocky formations. Two more old stereoviews came into my possession and it was my goal to set up "Then & Now" views. With that accomplished, a leisurely bit of time was spent looking into fallen blocks of conglomerate rock that had formed a small cave. Probably that mentioned by famed geologist Hitchcock and probably the 'lost' Wild Cat Den.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

South of the Border


The traditional November Connecticut visit! In recent years, I've been able to slip in a little 'work' while making my way down to my eventual destination in the Waterbury area. On this occasion, a stop in the southern Berkshires. I had just enough time to make a quick dash into the woods to look over a giant erratic recently brought to my attention by two local historians. And good Lord was it ever big! A quick pace proved it to be probably over 80 feet in diameter. My estimate was seventeen to eighteen feet high. I cannot recall any other freestanding boulder in the Berkshires of this and it may sneak its way into the Top Ten biggest in Massachusetts.

Continuing my way on into Connecticut, I eventually looked up a number of other erratics lying about Cheshire and Wallingford. These probably torn from the Hanging Hills of Meriden eons ago. A stop at the restored lock of the old Farmington Canal was included.


Erratic at Wallingford

The second day included a look at a rock that was cut through as part of a trolley route that descended Southington Mountain into Marion by way of Merriman's Curve and a former bridge over the rock cut on Route 322.

The old trolley route heading down towards Marion

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Lost Cow




Sinkhole entrance to the Cave of the Dead (Lost) Cow


On a very cool and crisp autumn morning, a chance to bring things full circle after 45 - or so years. Joining eight other cavers, we were off to relocate the (somewhat) lost Cave of the Dead Cow. This is something my Father and I had sought out during the latter half of the 1960's.

Coordinates left to us from the 1980's got us to the general area. At least a couple more hours were devoted by the group to finally locating the modest sized sinkhole entrance. Once finally explored, it was discovered the discontented cow that fell in circa 1938 (or its remains) had now vanished since the 1983 exploration.

On the return - several other karst features were looked over including a resurgence, and two caves: Privacy and Crapper Caves.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Seeking the Balance...



Some of the gang at Balance Rock

A perfect day for a perfect hike! Joining Williamsburg Woodland Trails, and over thirty other hikers, an ascent was made to The Balance Rock - another old favorite of mine. Then along the ridge, with one view down the Valley into Amherst, before descending to - and returning - via an old discontinued back road.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Last Hurrah...


...as far as this year's vacation schedule goes. The site was my traditional Essex County adventure. Landing in Peabody on the first day a more extensive exploration was made on one on three glacial moraine sites I've come across in recent years. This extended exploration yielded many perched/balanced erratics and probably a half dozen old quarry pits. The day was finished visiting the M S Foley Stoneworks where fine sculptured artwork in stone can be seen - and bought.



Perched boulder on the Peabody moraine

Day two saw me complete what I considered the primary mission of the trip: circumnavigating the peninsula of Marblehead Neck. Along the way, an island was visited to check into a possible cave sighted from shore last year. No go on this one. However, a small eroded formation was seen nearby whose 'cave effect' was enhanced by a small rock plopped into its upper reaches. The trip took me around the lighthouse at Chandler-Hovey Park and south along the east side of the Neck. I was especially on the lookout for an old Victorian Age attraction known as The Churn. Basically it looked to be an eroded dike chasm from all the images I have seen. Nothing I saw really struck me as being that site. However upon my return and, subsequent viewing of aerial imagery, I did confirm that a narrow dike chasm I saw was indeed the Churn. The south side of the Neck provided an excellent outcrop with two more dikes, one being partially eroded away. I finished up my visit to that section of Essex County going up to Salem Neck where a small seaside cave formation had been located the previous year. Although it appears to be formed in a number of boulders, the boulders (at least some) seem to come from the very same section of bedrock.



The Churn @ Marblehead Neck. Circa 1870s

My third day saw me returning to place that has been left aside for quite awhile: Dogtown. I had come across a story mentioning a 'deathmatch' between a young lady and a band of pirates back in the early days of Cape Ann. The story says she killed - or mortally wounded - the pirates and they were buried under a boulder at Dogtown. I located the alleged site, explored a bit at another site around Tent Rock, then moved on to another section of Dogtown. This took me into one of the rockiest sections of DT where the woods are nearly completely floored with deposits of glacial boulders. One of outstanding size was located before picking my way through the boulder field and returning via a designated hiking trail.


Tent Rock @ Dogtown

When it came to my last two days I had to make a decision as to more time on the water (not the most ideal conditions) or to put in more time hiking, which I was greatly enjoying at this time. Also, being my last visit to the area this year, I wished to spend some time at favorite spots that had not seen for some time. But I started the days adventures returning to the site of the pirate deathmatch, accessing it from a different direction. Along the way I came across another marvelous boulder with carving that indicated it was a boundary marker between the Towns of Rockport and Gloucester.

Finishing up at the deathmatch scene, I moved on and explored a trail that had caught my attention out in West Gloucester. It led to a possible quarrying site (something rare for this part of town) and a splendid perched boulder that sat with either end on two rocks below. The rest of the day was indeed spent at two favorites in Rafes Chasm and the old Stage Fort Park.

My fond farewell (for this year anyway) to Cape Ann was up to Rockport with a visit to one of its Profile Rocks. Then it was time to move on to other objectives in Northern Essex County. The first was a more comprehensive examination of the Nubble Squid. The second (finishing my day) was an old mining prospect for silver. This whole area was once one of the most heavily mined areas in Massachusetts. Numerous minerals were take from the ground including the site of the earliest lime operation from the early days of our Country.



Old silver mining site

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Narragansett Bay


Landing on the west shore of the Narragansett Bay, it was my intention to kick off fours days with further water-based explorations of the rocky coastlines in the Bay. On this day I went south looking over the coast of the Bonnet, and an area just to its south. At that point I paddled across the West Passage of the Narragansett Bay to re-examine a section of Conanicut Island (Jamestown) seen in June. What I thought to be a cave previously was merely the all too typical recess and shadow in the rocks.

The second day was devoted to exploring a number of sites on the northern portion of Aquidneck Island. A stand old growth forest managed to escaped the ravages of time. Then I fulfilled a long desire to look at some of the coal history of Portsmouth, examining several shoreline sites while also looking at a couple possible future kayak put-ins. Sandwiched in there was a quick walk by a section the old Hessians Hole, part of the early Portsmouth history. Finishing the day: a long awaited trip to another historic site: Lawton Valley, once the location of early grist mills.


The Falls at Lawton Valley - circa 1870s

I returned to water and coastal explorations on the third day. This time from Jamestown itself. Leaving the Fort Wetherill area, I re-examined some sections visited last year and was pleasantly surprised by the find of a shallow sea cave. One (Pirate's Cave) has been reported in this area for many years and this is the only likely possibility I have ever come across. Then it was only to shoot across the mouth of Mackerel Cove, leaving granite behind for a more slaty Rhode Island Formation. Cruising down the coast I saw another possible cave site and visited (unfortunately at high tide) a number or rocky formations including the Bay's major sea formed cave. On my returned, I looked over the two recently discovered cave sites while capturing photos. The day was closed out by a low tide visit to a site on Aquidneck visited the previous day, revealing much more rocks including fossil bearing formations.


Sea formed cave on the Narragansett Bay

Day four saw me leaving Aquidneck Island and making my way up to the Snake Den. A multitude of old granite quarries exist here as well as the rocky ridge know as Snake Den. Some small cave formations do exist here. I attempted to work a nearby site known as Round Rocks only to find roads into the area closed - or non existent. A later aerial view search reveals the area now incorporated into a massive quarrying operation.


The rocky Snake Den

Friday, September 13, 2013

South ... to North Shores


A couple days to relax on the South Shore before heading on north, up around Boston, to the North Shore.

The trip was kicked off by dropping down off the Pike to start a search for another Devil's Den in Worcester County. The cave also has a connection (at least in an alternate name) to a historical figure. My details were slim, but I hoped I to get lucky. Unfortunately NOT! So this one will have to be worked further at a future date.

Landing on the South Shore, I set about checking the relationship between high tides and the entrance/exit to two salt water estuaries. Primarily, I watched the Gulf (River) which is suppose to be navigable just around high tide.


Squaw Rock - or Squantum Head - early 1900s postcard image.

The second day sent me up to the Squantum section of Quincy for a more in depth look at its ledges and where the profile of Benjamin Butler once lay. Careful examination could not reveal anything for a positive id (it has been determined Ben no longer exists) but a set of photographs was taken for later examination. The same was done for nearby Squantum Head which has also suffered deterioration since the Golden Age of postcards portrayed it. It might be mentioned the Ben Butler site may be identified from a large rock laying in the water just in from of its former site. That area is highly susceptible to erosion being mainly composed of argillites, a slat like rock, whereas the Squantum Head is much more a tougher conglomerate. Indeed, an abandoned slate quarry exists nearby that was also examined.

Out of Squantum and back more to the south lies the land of many boulders. Indeed the original name of Cohasset is Quonahasset or "long rocky place" as named by the Native Americans. A number of sites there provide excellent examples of glacial geology and a couple were visited after my years absence of many years. Wheelwright Park has the Devil's Armchair, Big and Little Tippling Rock, as well as a split rock formation. The Whitney and Thayer Woods have an assortment of glacial boulders with names like Ode's Den, Rooster Rock, and the Bigelow Boulder.


The Devil's Armchair at Wheelwright Park

Day three proved to be somewhat of a bust. Traveling up to Marblehead, I intended to continue (by kayak) the shoreline investigation of Marblehead Neck. Unfortunately, winds, high seas, and eventually rain moved in and squashed those plans. So I continued the trip on up to Cape Ann to set up camp and reconnect with old friends.

The next day brought in late season brutal heat. I monitored the situation down in Marblehead but ninety-six degrees with an air quality alert and heat advisory left me to toot around Cape Ann on that day. I thought of launching the kayak out of Rockport but difficulties ensued at two different launch points. I used the time to examine Loblolly Cove as well as a postcard of that area called "The Maid", another rocky formation. Then some hiking over at Goose Cove in Gloucester before retiring from a VERY hot day.

With the vacation time winding down, I was determined to get into the ocean at least once. The choice was Ipswich at Little Neck. Here I cruised over to the southern part of Plum Island before turning south towards Crane Beach. I landed to looked over the Skull, a rock formation, not looking very skull-like in recent times. Moving on, I entered the Ipswich River, relaxed amongst the sand dunes, then returned to the beach launch area to call it a day.

Severe thunder storms moved in that night so it left the final day to pick up the wet equipment and head on home.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stockbridge Marbles of South Berkshire


Peering into the 'Frying Pan'.


On this beautiful Sunday morning, I was favored with some fine company. Gary from the Great Barrington Historical Society took me out to check into a report of a filled cave along a major stream. There was evidence of an entrance that was 'brought down' in the past along with a few, very small, remaining passages in the "e" unit of Stockbridge Marble.

Our second stop was an abandoned marble quarry in the "g" unit of Stockbridge Marble. Up in the back was a small karst area taking in a good amount of drainage. One large opening leads to a historic cave with the sound of falling water resembling that of a pan of frying bacon.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The ultimate destination was once again Cape Ann. But always nice to pick up a couple things on the way. So on Day One I came off Rt. 128 to check on the status of two pieces of property: The Pirate's Glen and Indian Rock. The Glen apparently has no formal access and the actual ownership/access of Indian Rock still seems to be a bit up in the air. However, one town official says he will investigate it for me.

Returning to Rt. 128, I proceeded to roll on into Cape Ann making brief stops to look up a possible location for the "Green Canyon", one of those childhood retreats. Talk of caves did not materialize but certainly many a quarry pit was passed in the process. Afterwards, a quick look at some shoreline sites in Pigeon and Lanes Cove, with a return to "Muffy Howards Haunt" (some boulder cave formations) where an old rock quarry lay upon the way. Then on to camp!


Muffy Howards Haunt

The second day found me traveling down to Magnolia for a kayaking adventure but pea soup fog made that probably not a good idea. My second choice was back to Lanes Cove where fog still prevailed but a little easier to follow the west coast of Cape Ann north, and over Halibut Point. This was a repeat - and expansion - of last year's trip, this time taking me down into Pigeon Cove and the Devil's Den. On the way I got to see all my favorite old sites along the shore including the Great Gargoyle, Bathtub, Cathedral Rocks and the Giant Steps. On the return around Halibut, I pulled around to once again look at the sea boulder caves and make another stop at the old Folly Point Quarry.

Day Three: I worked a few leads at a leisurely pace. These included looking for erratics perched upon Wolf Hill in an old late 1800's geologic publication and a 'sliding rock' in East Gloucester from a local resident's youth. I also took in part of the Old Rockport Road that I had not yet seen before. This is an area I'm always on the lookout for the long lost "Old Man of Joppa" formation.


Bull Dog Rock - from an early 1900's postcard

The fourth day was also a repeat and extension of a kayak trip from last year. I finally made it out of Magnolia with the Lady of Rock/Great Stone Face watching me pass by. Then I shot over to Rafes Chasm before making a line across Gloucester Harbor to Eastern Point. Then it was up the east side, past Bull Dog Rock and Brace Rock, to look for possible clues verifying the exact location of Sea Rocks - the old Jacob Loose home. I did find old stone steps carved into the sea side rocks just about where the house use to be located but I will have to study the present - and past - photography for any further clues. The return was pleasant with a stop in Brace's Cove and a quick look over the small section of land that divides it from the fresh water Niles Pond.


The old entrance to Sea Rocks

My last day was spent enjoying some down time hiking Poles Hill with Sunset Rock. Then on up to Pigeon Cove to visit my stone seat by the ocean where a 'footprint' formation was see in the rock by the old Swimming Place.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Mighty Connecticut and ... dinosuars!


Once again, returning to Connecticut, it's namesake river, and author/naturalist Beth L.

Bodkin Rock on the Connecticut River

Another brutally hot afternoon and a trip down the Connecticut River from Middletown to Bodkin Rock where a pegmatite outcrop exists. On the return trip, a journey into a gorgeous place, of quiet retreat, at Pecausett Meadows.

Dinosaur footprints. From a May 15, 1948 photograph

The following day, a very small section of land containing numerous dinosaur prints was visited at Powder Hill, Middlefield. The trip was finished up at Crystal Lake trying to gain access (day camp activities prevented this) to a set of rocks depicted on an old postcard. These are likely what is known locally as Suicide Rock.

The rocks @ Crystal Lake - early 1900's postcard image

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nutmeg and Oceans


The vacation got kicked off on a blistering hot Sunday morning down on the Salmon River in Connecticut, near its mouth on the Connecticut River. Various tributaries were explored as well as the Salmon itself, right on up to the dam. Well, at least the others made it up to the dam ;).

Camping on the first night was in the northwest section of Rhode island, at a State facility I had not seen in probably a dozen years. But the rains moved in over night and the next morning was spent trying to locate the site of an old Counterfeiter's Den under some very wet, adverse conditions. I accepted an invitation to pull back into Connecticut for the next (almost) 24 hours, with the rainy day turning to sun once in central Connecticut. This allowed a visit to Westfield Falls, and to try and locate an old cicada nesting grounds as this is the year for the little creatures to spring forth.


The Rolling Rock


The following morning (Day three) I made it all the way to the Narragansett Bay (western edge) to visit the Rolling Rock. Then it was out on to the bay itself to continue my explorations of island coasts. A small sea cave was discovered in the process as well as a sea arch.

Day four proved to be what I had originally got into kayaking for. A section of the Newport coast (VERY choppy and rough seas at times) was explored for the specific purpose of seeing the Pirate caves, and locating Spouting Cave/Rock. Various rumors surround these two features regarding their demise - or partial demise - and it was nice to see they seem to still be in good condition.


The Rolling Rock as it appeared on an early 1900's postcard

Day four proved to be what I had originally got into kayaking for. A section of the Newport coast (VERY choppy and rough seas at times) was explored for the specific purpose of seeing the Pirate caves, and locating Spouting Cave/Rock. Various rumors surround these two features regarding their demise - or partial demise - and it was nice to see they seem to still be in good condition.


The old Pirate Cave - from the ocean


On the fifth day, I headed on out of the area via Jamestown, so I took the opportunity to further look over access to the shore by land. I stopped for updated pictures of Indian Head Rock then worked my way back up into the Ocean State's northwest environs. Here I meet good bud Michael who helped me to finally realized my dream of seeing the long, lost Counterfeiter's Den.


Indian Head Rock - near low tide


From there it was only to make my way north and back onto the Mass Pike home.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Connecticut!


Bible Rock


I had the pleasure of spending a day with author and naturalist Beth L. down in the Middletown CT area, exploring areas of historic and geologic interest. I will let Beth (being a much better writer than I am) tell the story through her own blog: healingnaturect

Bible Rock - early 1900s postcard



Seven Falls on Bible Rock Brook - early 1900s postcard

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring into Spring



The House

The beginning of the vacation season arrived for me with a return to Essex County and Cape Ann. As seems the case in recent years rain played a factor and a good one-third of my time was left useless by heavy rain. Additionally, the conditions for kayaking were very marginal and that played into diminished activities on that front.

However, the first day was superb and that allowed me to make my way to Cape Ann by way of Middlesex County. First up was a quick look at an early lime quarry site. Next: I had in hand an antique photo of a huge boulder mentioning it as being located about a mile north of Long Sought For Pond. This happens to be the location (roughly) of two large erratics I visited in 2007 with the names House and Barn. It is likely the photo was of the Barn, smaller of the two, but not enough is there to make it a more positive ID.

Afterwards, I continued on to finally land in Pigeon Cove for looks at my old favorites along the rocky shoreline. Traveling over to the west side of Cape Ann and Lanes Cove where I inspected the damaged breakwater and rehabilitation project on a fishing shack


Rowe's Tomb

The next day and a half proved to be a complete rain out but by the third day I had mosied on up to the Pigeon Cove area once again for a quick look at the Profile Rock and further photos (sans foliage) of Rowe's Tomb. Working a possible lead on Boiling Spring in the area, I found a couple different areas (both with multiple resurges) that may have been it. But once again nothing matched with an old postcard which really doesn't give too much to go on.

The fourth day brought a much anticipated return to kayaking with an adventure carefully planned to make the best use of limited weather conditions. The trip involved the Fox Creek and part of an old historic canal connecting two major rivers in the area. The Fox led to the Ipswich River, quite close to its mouth, and from there it was on into the Atlantic Ocean for a brief spell. Following, was a quick trip up to Newbury to see Carsey's Rock. There are four or five rock outcroppings surrounded in the salt marshes and I am assuming at this point, Carsey's is the easternmost, and most isolated, of the group.

The trip back to my lodgings found me examining a boyhood hideout of a former Gloucester resident. At the site was a large deposit of glacial boulders with several lean-to type of caves. An unexpected surprise was a small quarry in an adjacent area.


Dick's Dream

The final day found me in a local cemetery where I had heard "geologic formations" existed. It turned out I had passed by this burial site numerous times without realizing what lay secreted farther in the back. Numerous - and some very large - erratics lay amongst the gravestone, often being incorporated into the landscape. Some had plaques another was make part of a man-made stone edging around a burial plot.

A trip to Pools Hill for a quick look at the old hospital ruins followed. Also in the immediate area was a large, quarried erratic and old well. Afterwards I may the trip once again up the rocks of Pigeon Cove but farther that the on my first day. Here I ended up by a blue quartz dike (probable Metoric Stone) and Dick's Dream with the Spouting Rock putting on a decent show. The trip was finished with a quick return to the Profile Rock for photos and to tie the kayak down for the trip home.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Spring is about to officially begin. I've lined up the initial projects. But in recent days Spring does not seem any closer than it was a month ago.

However, starving for some real fresh air and exercise, I made two trips up into the northern region of the Berkshires. One was to locate a beautiful double arch stone bridge and a second to scope out the countryside for marble.

The bridge was successfully located after a bit of searching. One of its sides now being reinforced with a cement surface and (apparently) some metal 'implants'. I'll look this one over more carefully come warmer weather when I can get down into thew river that flows underneath.


The Natural Bridge at North Adams

The marble expedition was successful and some beautiful white marble located. Along the way I dropped in to one of Massachusetts' premiere geologic features: the Natural Bridge on Hudson Brook. Much history to be had as Hawthorne one trekked through the chasm, calling it a 'cave'. Once in my youth I visited with my Father while the site was still in private hands. Present day finds it a State park although at this time of the year it is officially closed so one has to walk in a short distance.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Conrad's Cave: The Sequel


One of the biggest tourist sites in Newport is, of course, the Cliff Walk, along with the Forty Steps. At lower tides, many like to step off the Steps and down around the corner to view a small cave formation that carries water out to the Ocean. Some wish to call this Conrad's Cave, even alluding to it being the Conrad's Cave from the Victorian Age of Newport. Since it's a 'free country' I'm comfortable with calling it whatever one wishes. BUT it cannot be the cave written of in history. Now why is that?

Once again I will delve into the photographic archives of Newport history for the answer to this one. Existing is a photo postcard showing the location of the modern day cave but back around a hundred years ago. And there is NO cave present at that period in time. Using the 'then & now' process, we can identify the postcard as being the site at the bottom of the Forty Steps. We can also seen the water exuding from the rocks much like it still does in modern times. But the cave has yet to be 'formed'.


Although I do not yet have a personal modern photo of the site (high tide and rough seas prevented me on my last visit), one does exist through this link to Flickr.

And for further information on Conrad's, do visit: Conrad's Cave




Highlighted area indicates where the present day 'cave' exists

Monday, March 4, 2013

Glacial Boulder Caves in MA


Certainly the 'dye-in-the-wool' caver would cringe at yet another classification of caves. Especially one that couldn't be more 'karst-less' than a pile of boulders. Yet many of these rock formations provide ample passageways for true exploration. And since they owe their origin to the randomness of glacial action, and not the disintegration of cliffs, they cannot come under the heading of talus caves.

History, itself, records many of these formations as 'caves' and the greater majority of them lie in the eastern half of the state. In fact a statewide survey of caves begun over seven years ago, reveals the majority of caves in eastern Massachusetts are of the glacial boulder variety.

Coming as no surprise, tradition and archeological evidence, link our Native Americans to many of these natural rock formations. Most famous of these, both in history and caves, was Wampanoag tribe leader Metacom or King Philip. His caves stretch across the southeast region of Massachusetts. One in Freetown consists of a chamber located under a single rock. Farther to the northwest in Norton is one of his better know sites where it is said he stayed on his fishing trips to nearby Winnecunnet Pond. Three large blue-gray boulders of the Rhode Island Formation forms the cave.

Moving farther to the east we find two King Philip sites in close proximity at Sharon. In each case it is a piling up of rocks forming a crude enclosure and in each case they bear the name King Philip's Rock. Another more spectacular formation exists in Uxbridge where it is also know as King Philip's Rock. The history here is Philip, along with braves, stayed at this site just before carrying out an attack at a nearby town.

Metacom was not the only Native American to have his cave and the inevitable Indian caves do exist. Brockton's is comprised of three gigantic erractics piled upon one another while Plymouth's Cleft Rock provided shelter in a 19-foot passage within a fractured boulder. Saugus too has its Indian shelter amongst the rocks that now plays home to an old discarded refrigerator!

Other sites of 'erratic inhabitations' include an early settler of Sturbridge - later Southbridge - at Deneson Rock, a homeless man named Theodore at Odie's Den in Cohasset, wolfs at Wolf Rock Den in Carlisle, and the obligatory Bear's Den with its bear at Essex.

Finally, we may want to ponder the question of how dubious a cave can be and still be a cave. Cape Ann is perhaps the rockiest region in the state and boulders piled on - or around - other boulders is not that all uncommon. The famed Dogtown area has one rock formation where suicidal Abram Wharf crawled in to die after slitting his throat. Then there is the category of single erratics, so enormous in nature that they contain their own cavities or passages underneath. Of notable interest would be Peabody's Ship Rock and House Rock in Weymouth. These two rank among the largest erratics in the state and contain their own versions of 'pseudo' caves.

This article originally appeared in the Northeastern Caver

Monday, January 14, 2013

(My) History of Caving in Rhode Island


With the relative quite of Winter upon us (at least for this explorer) let's see what topics of interest might be covered at this time. Since there seems be an interest - and following - from the Ocean State, let us look at the history of caving in that State. And yes I'm being serious - for a change.

My roots in caving and history go back a long way now. Just under .... 50 years now. But both developed alongside of one another right from that first cave visit out in the Marble Heart of the Berkshires. And history has always been one of my greatest tools for locating those caves. So starting with perhaps the 'Father' of modern day caving (and one of my influences) and it's history - Clay Perry. Let's see what old Clay had to say on Rhode Island caves. Really - not much. Between two books published in 1939 and 1946 he lists the same four identical entries:

The Spouting Cave - near Newport

Purgatory - west end Sachuset Beach

Hanging Rocks

Pirates' Cave

[Hanging Rocks is an obvious feature in Middletown and I would assume the Pirates' Cave mentioned is the Newport location]

Now if we leave Clay for but a minute I'll flash forward to the late 1990's. By that time I had been exposed to the myths and legends of Rhode Island 'caves' but never really put any effort to investigate further. It was on one cold Winter day I was involved in an engaging instant message discussion with Steve Stokowski, then of the Boston Grotto. Steve had come upon (likely another Grotto member) some pages from a history of an area in northwest Rhode Island. The Wallum Lake area to be exact. In these pages were the the description and pictures of caves in the vicinity of that Lake.


Coon Cave entrance; early 1900s



Coon Cave entrance in more modern times

Now it had been said many times that Little Rhody was the only (or one of two) States that did not have a cave. So greatly excited by the prospect of finding a 'real' cave. The Clay Perry references had never seen much credibility as far as caving went but I had learned by that time the definition of a cave was highly subjective.



Entrance to North Dinosaur Cave

So there were a number of years spent trying to locate a variety of caves in northwest: Coon Cave, Counterfeiters Den (still not located), and Cooper's Den . The search that eventually expanded down to the very southwest sections of the State: Dinosaur Caves, along with minor features Pioneer Caves and Glacier Cave. Once again sifting through the pages of history brought the mention of a cave(s) in the Warwick area and a Pirate Cave down in the Jamestown area.


Entrance to Cooper's Den upper left

It was just before the middle part of the Century's first decade that more and more time was spent down along the ocean. At this point I got my first look at the Hanging Rocks, Purgatory, a bit of the Pirates' Cave, and (from a distance) the rocks of Spouting Cave, also more commonly know as Spouting Rock. It seems some stories persist of this 'formation' (realistically a 'sea-spout') being at least partially destroyed. Everything from the hurricane of '38 to a landowner dynamiting it were the reported causes.

Other sources provided what was to be one of the 'premiere' - but entirely difficult it not dangerous caves to access: a bona fide sea cave in the Narragansett Bay area. It was at this time after countless walks and climbs along the rocky coastlines, a sea approach was considered a serious necessity. So in the summer of 2010 I joined the ranks of kayakers and accessed that sea cave within the Narragansett Bay one early August morning as dawn and low tide coincided. This time period also saw my interest expand into locating sea formed caves, an interest that persists to this day.

Rounding out the 'cave' search were a number of rock shelters and minor features, primarily throughout central to south-western Rhode Island. Some of these were sites that did see Native American use long ago.

So although the preceding doesn't cover every nook and cranny I've stuck my head into, it does provide a summary from which to go forward. Ciao.