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.