Thursday, November 30, 2017

Return of the Rhode Island Mountain Man...

There was an air of excitement late November, with the return of Rhode Island's own Mountain Man, Mike G., bringing his expertise to the Western Massachusetts region. I was fortunate enough to connect with him on two days (well: one-and-a-half, with an injury cutting the second day short) to visit old and new finds in the Southern Berkshires.

Mike as seen through the yawning cave entrance @ Sky Peak

The first destination was an old favorite of mine that I had not visited in nine years: Sky Peak Cave. It remains much as I last saw it, or have seen it over the past fifty years. Nearby was a cave-like formation is may have been the hide out of a man who committed murder across the state line in NY.

Sky Peak was followed by another area not seen in way too long a time: Silver Cave. This is part of a small karst area with the bedrock Owl. This being a basal limestone within the Walloomsac Formation. Similar to the much better known Owm marble within that same Walloomsac, of which Sky Peak Cave is a part of.

The day was finished just before dusk, high above the Village Of Housatonic, poking around the area of a cave brought to my attention a few years back.

Tight cave passage within the Carbonate Sliver

Two days later, we set out for a further examination into cave found a couple years ago, within a geologic phenomena called a carbonate sliver. As the name suggests, it's a 'sliver' (in a relative sense) of carbonate rock (marbles) within a large bedrock area of non-carbonate rocks (quartzose/micaceous phyllites). Finishing our investigations here, we hiked north to located other 'slivers' and a known cave that is likely within one of those. Unfortunately, a tragic accident occurred to this author, and it was enough of a challenge to make our way from the woods. Another day, to return.

'Fins' - or impurities - projecting from the wall @ Carbonate Sliver Cave

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Old Friends: The Sequel!

Recently, in my journey through Plymouth County, I re established contact with an old friend. Marjorie is a woman with many years behind her, a love of the outdoors, geologic features, and history. We originally met at Sachem Rock years ago when she, and her late husband, were tending to the property. Her family originally came from Western Massachusetts, and some years ago, she passed on to me several photographs of their excursions around the central Berkshires.

Balance Rock - somewhere around 1900

On this particular day, we talked, walked conservation land, and looked over a number of family photographs. Before leaving, she once again honored me with a small family album with photographs. Among those, was a family visit to Lanesborough's Balance Rock in 1927. Another photo, was a bit older, showing a child on Balance Rock with two possible options. Someone born in 1891 or 1901.

Balance Rock - 1927

So if rocks could talk - what wonderful stories they could tell!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Return...

Cave @ Crow Hills

It has been traditional in recent years, to find my way into northeastern Massachusetts during the Autumn months. In particular, Essex County. Recent times find myself making a cross State journey with stops along that way. Often in Middlesex, and sometimes in Worcester counties. This particular trip started off with such a stop - at Crow Hills. An old AMC hiking guide I've owned since the late 1960s mentions a cave here. And such a cave was located some years back. But I wished to double check that information on the possibility something else was missed. Despite a search off the southern end of the Hills, no other cave formation (other than overhang) was found.

The next stop did take me into the western regions of Middlesex County to look at a formation known as Cave Rock. Not to be confused with other 'cave rocks' looked at during the last month down Norfolk County way. This piece of geology was much more rock than cave. An erratic that had some fracturing involved and a dislocated piece that left a small opening ('cave') under one edge.

Cudjoe 'Cave'

The third stop of the first day took me much closer to Boston at the Middlesex Fells. A return visit to Panther Cave and old Cudjo(e)'s Cave were the goals. By middle-late afternoon, I was fighting my way through traffic to get out of the area and land at my campsite on Cape Ann.

Abandoned quarry and perched boulder

Day two started as an interesting day, as a sort of 'spur-of-the-moment' decision, took me down to a very urban Peabody. Which has a rich history in its rocks, including several boulder strewn moraines. I tried accessing a site located on aerial imagery, only to find condos thrown up - and in my way. A slight relocation, and I did a walking tour of a (mostly) highly developed area, once again searching for the long lost Wigwam Rock. An old bit of writing from the 1800s put it northeast of a certain body of water, but then the 1800s did not have block-upon-block of commercial buildings and pavement. Still: a later study of aerial images reveals future possibilities. A stop in South Peabody to check in on the Butts (boulder) before moving on to expand my search on one of the glacial moraines.

The third day was totally southeast Rockport. Mostly to check out a number of ocean access points. ALL for residents only. Most with little to nothing for parking. I did venture into the town center in an attempt to once again locate the site of "Oldest Inhabitant". A rocky profile formation depicted on an old postcard. Nothing definite here.

Castle Rock

A rainy fourth day kept the goals short while dodging rain drops. I headed off to Marblehead and Castle Rock. I peeked through fences of the opulent homes to try and catch a look at the Churn. Moved down to Little Nahant for a walking tour of it's perimeter (by town streets) finally ending up at a couple beaches that might make a good launch site for future kayaking. Ended the day up at Agassiz Rock reservation where I am still wowed by the enormity of Big Agassiz Rock. Close to 30' tall!

'Indian head' formation @ The Fells

Rain moved out on the fifth day, and me along with it. I cruised back on down to the Middlesex Fells to relocate small cave formations mentioned in my old AMC guide, and an 'Indian Head' formation also discovered on my previous excursion into that immediate area. Moving back out into Worcester County, I made quick work of a perched boulder reported. My final homeward bound destination, was to see another King Philip's rock that had escaped me all these years.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fall into... Fall!

When does a four day trip turn into a one day affair? When DCR decides to close down state camping facilities due to a little wind. Ah well - for one long day, some important objectives got covered.

Indian Rock

First up was a site laying in the shadows (almost) of the famed Blue Hills of Norfolk County. This area can hold an interesting mix of 'different' rocks along with the more famous Quincy Granite. An area of scattered erratics has a formation locally known as Indian Rock, which has a slight purplish hue to it. I've also seen greens in this general area during the past (see: Petrology of the Alkali-Granites and Porphyries of Quincy and the Blue Hills, Mass. [1913], U. S. A. : Charles H. Warren). A small rock shelter/lean-to type of formation was also spotted just to the northeast of Indian Rock.

Minister's Rock

A slight hop to the north (and north side of Rt. 93) - and a slight bit of poking around - found me the Hermit's Cave. It is an old lead I've had kicking around for some time, and always understood to be little more than a very small niche under some exposed bedrock.

A short excurions to the southeast brought to the Land of Sachem's Rock (later visited) to check on the status of Minister's Rock. Several years back, the 'evil' development project moved into the area with its backhoes and other construction equipment, and I feared for the rock's safety. Fortunately, it had been recognized, and left unscathed. Well, except for a good scrubbing to clean it up a bit.

Indian grindstone

Most of the remaining afternoon was spent with local resident Marjorie, a woman of some years, who has a sincere interest in rocky formations and other sites of historical interest. Marjorie has a small Indian grindstone located in her back yard. We also got the opportunity to do a bit of hiking on nearby conservation land and look for an old fish weir. Not to be seen due to to high water levels.

Sachem's Rock - circa early 1900s postcard

Finally before leaving the area (and discovering a lack of campsite availability), I made a quick trip to nearby Sachem/Sachem's Rock. One of the more historic rock sites we have in Massachusetts. Where "on March 23, 1649 o. s. Massasoit traded with Myles Standish and others this land called Satucket".

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rockin' On...

Old Patients Rock @ Wallum Lake

Three years after my initial investigation, I returned to Wallum Lake in northwest Rhode Island. The purpose of this trip was to introduce fellow explorer, Mike G., to the lake and its multitude of rocks. We first stopped by Patients Rock, before making out way up the west side into Massachusetts. Then it was on down the east side, back to the put-in. Still missing is a somewhat mysterious postcard showing Hunt Rock on this lake.

Then, together, we made our way about two-thirds of the way south across the State, to visit a more recent discovery: a small cave in the Arcadia Management Area. Afterwards, a relatively insignificant site was looked at as we made our way back up towards the Warwick area. Parting ways at this point, I made my way back across the State line into Massachusetts for the night.

Gilly's Cave

On the second day, two towns in Massachusetts, just to the northeast of the Burnt Swamp Corner in Norfolk County, were investigated. This is an area I spent much time in during the late 1990's and early 2000's, locating significant rocky formations. Several cave and cave-like formations were found, along with large erratics, including a very nice balanced boulder.

The Balanced Boulder...

Monday, June 26, 2017

Tri-State Tramp

Meeting up with Mike ('Rhody' Mountain Man) G., the goal was some small time caving in the region near the Connecticut and Rhode Island borders. First stop was right at the rendezvous location. 'Lightning' Cave has a brief reference in an old 1800's history, and this site, of very small cave-like features, may be the deal.

Into the Mouth of the Lyon!

Moving on over to Connecticut, gave us the opportunity to examine the small - but visually impressive - Lyon's Den. Afterwards, it was on to a location once known as the Seven Wonders but more recent history (100+ years) finds it called Squaw Rocks hearkening back to an association with the Native Americans who once dwelt in this area.

Part of the Seven Wonders complex

The second day brought me out of a RI campground into Massachusetts. I planned on once again visiting two sites first seen during the Spring of 2016. An Indian rock shelter that I failed to locate last year, brought me back to an area just a bit north of the State Line. I was furnished coordinates by a local history expert as to where the shelter might be. Once again, the search proved fruitless. However, I did spend a bit of time scouring the woodlands to see some moderately impressive granite outcrops.

Out of the Mouth of (the likely) Rattle Snake Cave

The second - and final stop of the day - was a return to the likely Rattle Snake Cave(s) for further photographic opportunities.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Lee-ward side of things...

South Berkshire again - and boulders were on the list!

Gary L. once again joined me as we set out to search the source of a turn-of-the-century photo. This one showing late 1800's/early 1900's ladies in long gowns enjoying the day by a stream with a large boulder for company. Luck was with us on this one. It did not take long to locate the boulder, laying pretty much where it was in Days of Old. A beautiful locale in a ravine with small falls.

The Boulder on the Brook

The next site to check on was pretty much straight forward. It was part of Berkshire Natural Resources Council's properties. A loop trail of about two-and-a-half miles brought us by some pretty impressive boulders within modest sized boulder fields.

BNRC property boulder

Before finishing off for the day, we did a quick drive by of one of Southern Berkshires larger boulders, laying alongside Jacob's Ladder Trail.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Into the Great Southern Berkshires!

With several leads hanging around for the south-central Berkshires, it was time once again to connect with the knowledgeable dude of the region: Mr. Gary.

First up was a quick spin by a local lake shorelne in the Glendale area for a match of a rock outcrop from an old photograph. A well qualified 'maybe' presented itself. But the whole shoreline is privately owned and access not possible. A short drive away, brought us to one of the local historic properties/attractions, to follow up on a reported Spouting Rock. The site was depicted upon an painting and hearkened back to the late 1800's when the property was a school, and the rock was used for oratory purposes. A likely match was made and the bonus of a small cave underneath an adjacent boulder. Further back in the woods, was a significant exposure of ledges. The area's geology invites additional research.

The likely 'Spouting Rock'

A bit of motoring brought us over to the entrance trail for Ice Glen, across the famed Memorial Bridge. Recent times relocated an inscribed boulder from around the 1930's that once lay along an old section of trail. Our first attempt to locate it proved fruitless, although we saw many fine rocks including the Shark's Fin Rock. We relocated to a local expert in Town, where additional information was gleaned through a phone call to an area author. Lunch brought us to Lee and a quick peak at an abandoned(?) area quarry. We also started an investigation into a giant sized boulder, from an old news article, that once could be located in a local brook.

The inscribed Sedgwick boulder

To finish off our day, we headed back towards Ice Glen. This time, successfully locating the 'lost' inscribed boulder.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Smallpox, the Quinebaugs, Whitefield and Flint

View through BAB/Smallpox Den

On this particular day, a meeting with Mike ('Rhody' Mountain Man) G. into the central portions of Worcester County of Massachusetts. My long anticipated return to the BAB 1819/Smallpox Den was on tap. This particular site greatly expands the story of smallpox and early attempts at inoculation. Fortunately, it came off without a hitch and allowed us to move on to other sites in the region.

Initials "BAB", along with "1819" at the Den

Grey Ledge

Not much further away stood Grey Ledge: a massive overhanging rock shelter. According to local tradition, the last two of the Quinebaug Indians once lived here., also being buried nearby. After a long investigation, mostly for photographic considerations, we moved on to a nearby well marking the site of an old camp. Before leaving the immediate area, we followed a rocky ridge-line coming across two other minor cave formations. A short drive further west, brought us to Indian Rock and nearby Whitefield Rock, one of George Whitefield's rocky pulpits from which he delivered his famous sermons.

Just enough time remained in the day for a final drive to the northeast to examine Flint Rock - or Sampson's/Samson's Pebble as it is often called nowadays.

Flint Rock from an early era postcard

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Return

Two weeks short of a year, the time has arrived to put together a multi day trip. Unless, one wants to include a lengthy stay in the hospital as an example of 'Grand Adventure'.

Balance Rock from a postcard a few decades ago

But I picked up - where I left off last year - setting my sights upon eventually arriving in Cape Ann. But first things first, as I made my way through two Middlesex County towns/cities. Stop #1 involved looking up the site of a couple old soapstone mine, now more of water-filled ponds. Several miles to the southeast found a splendid example of a balance rock.

The 'pot hole' @ Shaker Glen from an old Magic Lantern Slide

The 'pot hole': present day

Even further to the southeast, beginning to reach the Boston suburbs at Woburn, were two examples of Indian Bowls. These formations are more natural and really examples of pot holes.

The Old Man of Joppa; early 1900's postcard

The second day was an all Cape Ann day, looking into sites on this island/peninsula. Up first was a revisit to an area that seems to be the final outcome of the Old Man of Joppa search. The years have definitely obscured the formation with construction and vegetation growth. However, a local person of knowledge, has defined it as this location. It is one that caught my eye many times during my travels through the area,a very prominent, very high, ridge of rock. The perspective depicted in the old postcard is not entirely clear as to how big this ridge actually is.

Sea Rocks and the boulder cave

Moving on up to the northern tip of Cape Ann, the Sea Rocks property provided some massive sized boulders with caves underneath. Slightly further south, I scouted out the former location of a plaque, on a boulder, dedicated to Ralph Waldo Emerson. My walk along the coast began at Chapin's Gully, took me past the Great Gargoyle, Blue-Quartz dike, and ended up by the Frog.

The Great Gargoyle - circa 1915 to 1930

This particular day was finished by a visit to the rocky summit of Poles Hill and a 'secret cave' upon Cape Ann.

Appleton's boulder

On day three, it was time to leave my 'island home' behind if only temporarily. Chugging along the old highway east, my first goal was a farm. Not any old farm, but one with a plaque on a magnificent boulder, dedicated to early settler Samuel Appleton.

Continuing along the highway a bit to the northwest, I finally (after many years) got to look at an old lead from the John Henry Sears' geology book on Essex County: Metcalf Rock. The name (further research needed) has lent itself to an old smallpox cemetery in the region. I believe - at least at this point - Metcalf Rock may be a somewhat broad area of rocky outcrops. Although one major, flat topped rock, was encountered right about at the location designated by Sears on his geologic map.

Cradle Rock- circa 1900

And still further west I dropped into the local library to try and dig up information on another vague JH Sears reference to a Mineral Paint Mine. Little success to be had on this one - or trying to find legitimate access to the nearby Cradle Rock. This long lost rock has finally turned up on a map, but apparently rests way back in someone's private back yard.

Sliding Rock

Breaking camp on the fourth day, it was time to head on home. But not before furthering my explorations in Middlesex and Essex County. I started the morning at Indian Cave, hoping for an improvement over the photos of last Spring. Then wandered down to the Lynn shoreline, where the partially receding tide allowed me access to a couple boulders. The first, I attempted to match with an old photograph but was not totally successful. A short walk north brought me to the much better know Sliding (or - Slippery Sliding) Rock. Best know (but not visited this time around) is Red Rock, just a short jaunt to the north. The tide was not quite far enough out to allow me access to the Cliff Cradle a short distance north in Swampscott.

Leaving Essex County behind, it was time to head on west to look into Prospect Hill Park and its rocks. The final stops were just north, in Lexington, where three erratic sites were checked, one not being found. An old paint mine was visited in-between the Lexington boulder investigations.

And Home - via the Mohawk Trail!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Across the Connecticut

I missed out attending the big Worcester County postcard show back in March due to unfavorable weather. But, I thought I'd take in a smaller show in Greenfield this past weekend. It also afforded me the chance to connect with Quabbin expert J. R. Greene.

After the show, I returned to my 'rocky friends' further south in the Connecticut Valley. A mysterious old image from a glass slide has surfaced with a theory it may be in Western Massachusetts. To me, it looked to be something very similar to what exists in the Mt. Toby region. So, I looked over two sets of ledges there.

The Cave

The first ledge is home to the marvelous Sunderland Cave, whose written record goes back to the early 1800's. The second set of ledges was once know as Graves Ledge, as it was the boundary to Mary Jane Graves' property.

The Twin Slabs and Willard's Point (upper R)

In the end, I was unable to positively identify the site of the old glass slide. But I did make use of the time to photograph a few of the sites previously done by John Lovell almost 150 years earlier.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rust Never Sleeps...

... or so it's been said.

With the (slightly late) arrival of a new season, I'll be putting that to the test. Returning from a significant medical 'calamity' may prove to be slow going. But only time will tell.

Something relatively close nearby was my objective. West of the Connecticut River, and in the Land of Hampshire County. This old lead had been kicking around for 20+ years and it finally go the 'do over'. Martha's Rock and/or cave with nothing more than a mere mention.

So into the approximate area I descended. Down into a stream valley brimming with winter runoff. Sweeping stealthily through the area, I eventually came up a significant possibility. A good length of ridge composed of rock Williamsburg Granodiorite. Near the middle of it's traverse, was a lofty rock outcrop towering above the stream below. Could this be Martha's Rock? No definite answers were forthcoming on this particular day.

Any 'caves' found were no more than small animal dens. The biggest one contained two eggs, likely belonging to some turkey vulture. On the way out, a couple signs of ancient quarrying and tool marks were discovered.

The Vulture's 'cave'

On the return home, a quick stop was made to look over an alternate access a local cave. The route used in the past has now been built upon. This one would involve a steep hike over a washed out woods road.

Monday, February 20, 2017

BAB 1819

The small pox den

Back in late March of 2016, Mike G. and myself made an expedition into the woods of Central Worcester County for the purpose of locating a possible smallpox den. The initial information was courtesy of a local man's map of historic sites in the area. It was also mentioned the initials BAB, with the date 1819, might be present at this site.

Markings at the small pox den

Mike and I were unsuccessful on that particular day in locating the 'cave'. But it was not for long! He returned in the Fall and located the site not far from where our wanderings had taken us. And yes - the initials BAB, along with the date 1819, were visible.