Thursday, November 17, 2016

To describe returning to the outdoors after such a long absence, is beyond the scope of this webpage. Five months after my last trip, and sidelined by health issues, it was practically a celebration, even though muted by my recovery efforts.

Mike on Reynolds Rock

Mike G., of Rhode Island fame, made his way into the Berkshires and I acted as mostly a tour guide to some of the local sites. The first of two days included an old trolley bridge, Centennial Rock, the Little Egypt Lead Mine, the Cole Farm Boulder, and Reynolds Rock. Later in the week saw the exploration (by Mike) of a south county cave discovered last year in a carbonated sliver while I was with Gary L. of Great Barrington. A quick run was made up to MJ's Cave, and a visit to one of the nicer Bear's Dens in Western Massachusetts and its associated Ghost Cave.

In the 'jaws' of the Bear's Den

This likely finishes my travel and exploration season for this year. I'll be working on coming back in the new year at 100%.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Return of the Conglomerate.

Ten to fifteen years ago, I had a major project going on in the Connecticut River Valley. It encompassed locating - and identifying - sites from old stereoview photography by John L. Lovell from Amherst. Also, noteworthy, were writings of this same area by the Reverend David Peck, pastor of the Sunderland congregational church at that time.

After numerous trips, the project went mostly dormant due to a lack of additional photography (there were well over five dozen stereos in one series alone) and an inability to locate certain sites. A small cache of stereoviews surfaced recently, and breathed a certain amount of new life into this long running project.

The Grand Porch as it appeared circa 1869/70

On this particular day, with new photography in hand, I was able to visit the long known Grand Porch and see exactly what view, photographer John Lovell had captured. Much tree growth prevented a modern replication of that 145+ year old view. Nearby, a final positive id was possible on the Kitchen and Pantry, and that was successfully captured with a modern day photographic view. Also re-photographed was the "Curve Rock Looking North" entry in the series.

Recreating John Lovell's "Curve Rock Looking North"

Moving along to another set of ledges, the newly found stereos presented a mystery. A second view of the same site. Possible? Lovell often did a couple - or even several - views at a site but they had different listings on the backview of the stereo. But at Pulpit Rock, we were presented with something entirely different: two different photos fitting the same spot on the backlist. I was not completely successful at identifying the new acquisition as being at Pulpit Rock, but I will hold that theory for future consideration.

Sitting upon the Pulpit Rock

This day's visit to the ledges was finished up with a well identified (despite lacking the antique photograph) Kittie's Nook and a chance to photograph it from a new angle. From here it was on to the Town of Leverett to look into some recently acquired conservation land and its ledges. Not much of geologic interest here, except a couple spots that show the effects of weathering upon the rock. Otherwise, just some nice woodland property.

A small cave once known as Kittie's Nook

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Great Northeast!

Time once again to visit the northeast portions of the Bay State. I used the traditional methods of way in/way out, which simply means catching some locations during the travels to and from my ultimate destination.

The memorial boulder to Asa Pollard

The first day brought me into Billerica where I quickly located the Asa Pollard memorial boulder. Asa was the first person killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill and the rock rest by the roadside, out in front of his old homestead site. Another stop at Gilson Hill, brought me to a suspected Indian (grindstone) rock which is informally known as the Rowell Memorial Stone. Numerous erratics dot the surrounding forest including a large one at a lower level, northeast from the summit.

The 'upper' - or Tower Cave 1

Moving deeper into the urban environment, an erratic of significant size was located down near Horn Pond in Woburn. From there, it was just a short jaunt over to the east to check in at Melrose. Visited here were Cleft Boulder/Chapel Rock, the Great Stone Face, Dwyer Cave site (presumably destroyed), and the Tower Caves, which are most likely over the town line in Essex. From here it was only to brave the city traffic to make my way up to Cape Ann.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson tablet - from an early 1900's postcard

Nothing significant was planned for this visit to the Cape. I made use of the time to relax and putter about. On the morning of day two, I dropped in to the rocks at Pigeon Cove. A long shot, but once a plaque existed somewhere on the rocks as a memorial to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Unfortunately, the plaque has not been seen in ages and its exact location unknown. But I used the opportunity to make my way south back to the Inn that bears the name of Emerson, looking over all my favorite old spots from years past: Frog Rock, Dick's Dream, Meteor Rock, the Great Gargoyle, Chapin's Gully, Pulpit/Singer's Rock, and others. A quick look at the Granite Pier proved it was once again usable (previous coated with horribly slick algae) for future kayak trips. Then brief visits to Lanes Cove, Poles Hill access, Red Rocks and other Essex County Greenbelt lands in that vicinity.

Pulpit Rock - from an early 1900's postcard

Day three brought me down to another old favorite: Lynn Woods Reservation. Over the years this location has provided much enjoyment and MANY rocks! I continued explorations both north of Walden Pond then to its south. A number of impressive boulders were seen, measured, photographed and catalogued.

The 18' high Goliath Boulder

The final day was scheduled to be an 'iffy' weather day. But the rains held off and the morning brought me down to Acton. After having Egg Rock in my notes for many years, I finally got to see it! Then just a quick jump to a nearby section of town to visit a 'cave' shown to me by Dan Boudillion many years ago. Sometimes know as Potato or Indian Cave, it is actually a stone chamber which has been nicely restored in recent years.

The Nashoba Brook stone chamber entrance

Completing my tasks in Acton, it was only to turn towards Rt 495, then down to the Mohawk Trail for my return home.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Mighty Connecticut

It was six years ago I began my adventures into kayaking. Early on, I had intended to visit the basalt formation at Titan's Pier. So many years later, I finally got around to seeing this unique, and interesting, geologic formation laying along the mighty Connecticut River.

Titan's Pier - early 1900's postcard

The conventional wisdom is to start a river adventure paddling upstream and that way you can take advantage of riding the current back on the tail end of your trip. However, with limited put-in possibilities, this had to be done in reverse. Titan's Pier was not far from the Oxbow put-in and quickly sited within the first quarter hour. After photos and an examination, it was decided to continue downstream and visit the dinosaur footprint park.

Titan's Pier - columnar basalt formation

The 'dino prints' were still a good distance to the south, probably about an additional three and a half miles. After putting to shore and disembarking, the site was visited. Then began the long paddle upstream which would eventually return me to the Oxbow.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blackstone: The Sequel.

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

Shining Rock

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

A cave entrance in the Blackstone Valley

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016


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

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

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

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

The 'W.P.A. Boulder'

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

Cave discovery!

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

The Indian Cave

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Great Barrington to Red Rock

Back to the southern Berkshires with master of south county history, Gary L.. Two sites in Great Barrington were looked at. The first was a split rock along the Appalachian Trail (very minor formation) and a BIG boulder not far from the ski area.

The Butternut Boulder

We followed with a visit to Red Rock, NY and its namesake rock. Tradition has it the rock was painted red so the town would have an actual 'red rock' to name the town after! Around 1860, a marble obelisk was placed upon the rocky summit.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Greenfield to the Berkshires via The Mohawk

A chance to drop in at another postcard show. So Off to Greenfield I go. Not too bad a selection of cards, and afterwards, the opportunity to visit the local Bear's Den.

Out of the Bear's Den

Using a bit of an unusual route for my return to the Berkshires, I took the Mohawk Trail all the way to North Adams. However, before descending the big mountain down - and around - the hairpin turn, a stop was made to take in a really big boulder. This one lies pretty much on the boundary of Florida and North Adams. Right around 70 feet in circumference, and 14 feet high, this appears to be a big chunk of granite lying about an area of mostly schist. So a true erratic, indeed!

Boulder at the boundary

Thursday, April 14, 2016


The early photographic work of Winsted CT's Frank W. DeMars (late 1800's to early 1900's) does leave an interesting body of work. It also leaves some sites needing to be searched out. One such one is Pulpit Rock in the Robertsville section of Colebrook. A local history source narrowed down the location for me last year and on this day I set off.

Accessing the area took a bit of planning but soon I arrived in an area of ledges and rocks, apparently peeled off of those ledges. The photographic image we have to work with is not entirely the best but I felt enough there to identify it. A good search of the area was made, some pretty fine boulders visited, but Pulpit Rock itself was not identified.

On the return home, still in Colebrook, I stopped by another large boulder. This one marks the site of where a local schoolhouse once stood. That schoolhouse exists, but has been relocated to an adjacent plot of land.

The old schoolhouse rock

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Balance Rock & Boulder Fields

A quick spin by one of New England's most recognized boulders: Balance Rock in Lanesborough. I recently received an antique photograph from a friend made some years ago in Eastern Massachusetts. Probably early 1900's, it showed a man standing upon a rock. It was a long shot that it was taken in the area of Balance Rock, but I checked out that possibility anyway. Sadly, to no avail.

The unidentified rock

Working a tip from a local caver, I journeyed on to northern Berkshire County. The results were quite remarkable. A series of ledges, while down below, boulders of a remarkable size. A couple of these will easily be among the largest in the county.

One of the larger boulders at the boulder field

Monday, April 4, 2016

Kilns. Karst. Limestone & Rocks.

Abandoned lime kiln

Once again, I found myself back in the southern Berkshires with Gary from the Great Barrington Historical Society. This time we dropped in to the Audubon Sheffield kiln property. Nice remains of an old kiln that was operational for a very brief time in the early 1900's. Several good sized quarries, and a perched glacial erratic, can also be found.

Perched erratic

A slight relocation to the west and we were hunting down (unsuccessfully) a very small cemetery. Good news here: Gary returned to finally locate it a few days later. We headed up into the mountains to look over a gigantic sinkhole with a cave entrance. Then still father west to Sunset Rock, just over the State line into NY.

Westerly view from Sunset Rock - Copake NY

We took a quick look at the Copake Falls furnace, in the processes of being restored. Then the 'Wallace Bruce Rock" on Whippoorwill Rd in Hillsdale NY. A magnificent specimen of quartzite! Turning back into Massachusetts, we saw a nicely preserved kiln. This one sitting along a local resident's driveway in an area where iron ore once was mined. Finally: passing by an old section of Henry Knox's trail.

Wallace Bruce at his (Mother's) rock - early 1900's postcard

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Of Postcards and Smallpox.

Now and then I'll take in a postcard show, almost always combining the trip with the opportunity to take in some natural settings. This was a first time for me visiting the show in Spencer, although I have looked over a couple things in town during the past. Not much presented itself in the way of postcards. But often it is more about the contacts you make! I reconnected with a dealer from the Blackstone Valley who gave me background information on her home town. Then I met up with another dealer from the South Shore who was able to give me a lead on a previously unknown (to me) cave down that way.

Connecting with Rhode Island's Mike G. at the show, we eventually moved on to the land of the Smallpox Cave. This rather interesting geologic feature was examined some years back but something new had arisen! A reported second cave in the vicinity, with initials carved at the site. A pretty good search was made but turned up very little that could be called a cave. And no initials were seen. It might be mentioned the original Smallpox 'Cave' is nothing more than a ledge at this point in time. However, the writing of its inhabitant, during the early 1800's, IS still visible.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pebble and a Roof

Time has come to move beyond the Berkshires. Two areas where rocky formations might be located were on my radar screen. First up was Trustees of the Reservations land in Franklin County with The Pebble. Nice boulder around 13 feet high and 56 feet around. Notable were a number of quartzite exposures in the base rock. A couple being pretty big in diameter.

The Pebble

Afterwards, the majority of the day was spent across the Connecticut River. Here, a large area of ledges used by climbers. The premiere feature called The Roof. A long (90') overhang with a nice sheltering area underneath, the depth is none too significant. I can only imagine if Native Americans ever slept here. A series of ledges nearby make up what is called Happy Valley and provide more than ample opportunity to test one's climbing ability.

A portion of The Roof

Friday, March 11, 2016

Burgoyne, a Gorilla, and an Egyptologist.

Three sites in the Southern Berkshires were my goal on this particular day. The first was a long overdue, first time visit, to Burgoyne Pass. I also wanted to verify, if - or if not - an old route still existed into the Pass from the East. I also had been made aware of a plaque on a rock that existed somewhere near this area.

Rock formation near the Eastern entrance to Burgoyne Pass

Apparently the old trail/woods road into Burgoyne Pass, at least from Beartown Mountain Road, has been abandoned. However, I did encounter old sections along the way. This happens to be the most direct route in, and the rocky notch through the mountain can be reached in a relatively short time after a modest climb. The plaque - I did not see, but learned later on, it is down the mountain to the west.

Gorilla Rock

Then on down into the Tryingham Valley to view Gorilla Rock. This somewhat modest sized rock is out in a pasture and only can only be viewed from the roadside. I finished farther down the Valley near the old Ashintully Estate (former home to Egyptologist Robb de Peyster Tytus) investigating a possible karst formation. This did not pan out as hoped. Although we have a water source present, it was entirely diffused with a lack of exposed bedrock. Overall, the area geology did not offer significant potential.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Into the Great South Berkshire!

First trip of the year with Gary L. from the Great Barrington Historical Society. We did not have great success on this day, but worked a number of sites. The first was Pow Wow Rocks reported to be an Indian encampment. Next was a rough hike into a karst area near Masshole, a giant sinkhole that contains a cave entrance.

Down in the farthest most corner of the State, we did a drive by, scouting out a location from an old postcard, where a young lad posed on a rock ledge at the site of an old schoolhouse. This did not bear fruit although we saw a couple possibilities.

Perched boulder - Evergreen Hill

The final stops were in Stockbridge. First, looking over an old location for Rt 7 (before it was called Rt 7) north of Great Barrington. There is also a forgotten cemetery here, an old carriage road, and a modest perched boulder on a steep hillside. Ending the day was a visit to something I had never seen before - except in old postcards: the monument to the Stockbridge Indians. A large slab of rock taken from Ice Glen and sitting upright in a small park.

Monument to the Stockbridge Indians

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Real - or false spring - only time will tell. After one of the mildest snow-free winters I can remember, weather that is more like April has graced our region. Taking advantage of that, I have sprung into action for another year.

Combining business with pleasure, I headed south to Falls Village Connecticut for the quarterly meeting of the Northeastern Cave Conservancy. After killing a good number of hours there, I headed over to Great Falls. On my last pass through the area (October 2014) the well visited side of the Falls were taken in. Here, I saw across the river, two boulders that I hoped would match an old postcard. A possibility, but water levels would have to be lower, and a significant amount of brush not present, to make an identification.

The probable double boulder above the Great Falls

On the trip north, a short stop was made in Stockbridge to visit the so-called Sliding Rock.

Sliding Rock - to the right

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mystery: Indian Fort

Most everyone loves a good mystery now and then. So here's the evidence: For a number of years, I've had the following stereoview. The photographer's business address is printed on the front. Nothing unusual there. And in pencil, on the back, is the same town indicated: Milford MA. Just recently I went over the reverse side with a fine tooth comb. Ok - it was actually a magnifying device. Barely visible were the words "Indian Fort". And that was mostly due to a fine indentation in the cardboard. Not much pencil to speak of.

So, although the business address is a nice starting point, it by no means indicates exactly what town where this rocky formation may exist.