Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cunningham Tower

Is located in Mohawk State Forest, Cornwall, CT.  I read about it on a website called "Damned Connecticut, which is mainly concerned with "weird" and "spooky" places. I didn't find it particularly "spooky", and only weird in that it seems to have No Particular Purpose.
 Yes, it does sit there, in the middle of the woods. It was built about 100 years ago, and forest proliferation has probably obscured whatever view there was from the top.  It reminds me of a small version of one of those "Martello Tower" forts. 
Like all good castles, it sports a gargoyle. Actually, nothing about the place itself spooked me, but there was a slight creepiness to the interior, which I'll get to later.
The floor is made of red octagonal tiles. There was about an inch of ice on the floor.
There was once a second & third levels. You can see where there was a spiral stone staircase, but its been broken off. The ground & second floors each have fireplaces.
These thingies are about 50 feet downhill of the tower. I have no idea what they were-maybe supports for some kind of patio?
What are these?
Surprisingly little graffiti-there wasn't much more than this. Not much trash either.
And now, for a bit of weirdness. Someone has placed a board across the fireplace, like a mantel. On it were a neat row of votive candles, and bits of broken crockery. Hmm. I wonder what they do in here? Actually, its not very far from the road, and located in a State Park that's closed after dark.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Squaw Cave

Its amazing what is called a "cave" in Connecticut. Boulders fall on each other, leaving some sort of space underneath, and it becomes a "cave"  Judge's Cave, Wolf Den, and the cave at Chatfield Hollow are examples. The Rock House in Watertown is large and impressive, Dead Man's Cave on Sleeping Giant is deep, rambling, dark, and spooky, but these aren't true caves. When I read that there are two real caves in Connecticut,, I wanted to check one out.
 This is the hill. even from a distance, you can see that the rock is a little "different'.
 The cliff
 Cave opening. You can clearly see it from RT. 44, including idiotic graffiti. In fact, the cave is less than 50 yards from the road. The interior  is almost completely covered in graffiti, some of it offensive:
 From the inside. This would be a good cave to camp in, it it wasn't sooo close to the road.
 The interior tapers like a tube. A very small spring runs through it.
Like just about every geological feature in places where "geological features" are fairly rare, this place has a Legend. Google for it, I won't bore you with it here...
And, like most interesting features which are unlucky enough to be located close to populated areas, certain people feel the need to make their "mark" on it. Its as if they want to erase any "primeval" or "natural" aspect, and force the place into civilization. A small & neat carving of a name or initials, with a date, might actually be cool, for the future- " I wonder who "J.D. was? And he really was here way back in  2012?"- but Sloppy Racist Spray Paining doesn't cut it...

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Leatherman's "Real" Cave

I am oddly fascinated by the stories and legends of The Old Leatherman. No need to recount the standard tale here, a Google search will easily tell the same story on half a dozen websites. I did, however find an interesting entry on one blog:

"Steve… Gotta say I like your site… I grew up exploring that whole area…In fact just over the hill and along the next ridge of the mattatuck trail… Is a very real cave… You use to have to use a chain to climb up to it… also there is a very large rock overhang known locally as the “half c”… I partied all over that place and hiked and explored…. Only thing I will say though is that the cave there by jericho wasn’t the cave we all knew as Leathermans… If you go almost all the way down Park Rd. coming from Eylematic… In one the last curves in the road is a turn out… Used to have a railing across what was/is a dirt road… And there is a lone house up to your right a good few paces… Any way, follow this until you get to a place where you could take a jog right or stay with the “road”…

Take the jog right… Walk another 50 100 yards… leathermans is on your left… At the end if this ridge is a towering rock…If you climb to the top of this, it is a great view… Someone carved a star into the top of this… Looks to be along time ago… This rock is widows peak…But at any rate That is the real Leatherman’s… You can feel it"

I've been to the cave near the Jericho Trail a few times. There are two routes, both uphill: Steep and Steeper. Other posters on this blog doubted that the popular "Rock House" cave under Crane's look out would be heatable by a campfire, and I agree-its large, and open at both ends. The wind would go right through it. I followed the above directions to this place:

Another rockfall "cave", this one only about half a mile from the road, on almost level ground. I believe it is the place. I don't seem to know how to photograph a cave to "look like a cave", but this place narrows to a snug den, which a campfire would heat easily.  Much easier to reach, especially by careless modern partiers, who'd left beer cans all over. I carried out a boxful of them (cans, not partiers).  What the hell is so hard about carrying out your trash??

I followed the directions further, and climbed the nearby widows Peak. Nice view of Thomaston.  I think I found the above mentioned "star", but its faint, and looks more like a starfish:

I tried looking for the "very real cave", but I don't think I found it. Saw other interesting details on the way, though:



 I also read that the idea of Jules Bourgulay as The Old Leatherman has been debunked. Shame, it was such a good & dramatic story!  However, it sometimes seemed to me, that the Standard Story might be a little embellished, as if to explain why a man might walk an endless circle in an uncomfortable leather suit. It seems that in those pre-welfare days, Hoboes were not such an uncommon sight. This particular vagabond was, however, a little "socially different" and mysterious, giving rise to legends of his origins. He may have even been "playing" it a little with his striking appearance and silence. He never worked or sought work, covered only about 10 miles a day, and ate free meals, several times a day. It became a sort of "honor" to be known as someone who fed The Leatherman. 
I have also read that when he was found dead, he showed signs of mercury poisoning & syphilis, which might explain the behavior of walking in a great circle for thirty years.

He may or may not have performed his circuit for profound reasons. Maybe he was just a "differently configured personality".