Friday, June 9, 2017

In Search of Dinosaurs

I took today off to simply go riding. Haven't had any vaca days yet this year. Come August it will be vacation every day. After re-reading GLMC Americana Extreme tour rules I concluded the capture of Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut probably would not qualify. Rules state;

Dinosaur – statue, mural, or sign of a dinosaur

Being a sign of a dinosaur and not simple the word spelled out, headed back out to knock off the Connecticut Dinosaur and then some more.

First stop of the day heading thru Woodstock was this 1 Room School House. The original school was built on this site in 1734, which burned in 1873. This one is the replacement and served as a school until 1929. This is located at the intersection of CT 198 and 197 in Woodstock CT. I don't how many times I have passed this building, but not in a big rush today, I stopped.

On Westford Rd, CT 89, was this rock I have passed a couple of times in my travel. This is a marker for the Old Connecticut Path that began in Cambridge area and let to Hartford, CT and the first trail that led westward.

Continuing on into West Hartford to The Childrens Museum, which has 2 dinosaurs, Velociraptor & Allosaurus, ready to gobble up the younglings heading into the museum. If I was a little kid and had seen Jurassic Park, the scene when Wayne Knight in the Jeep goes of trail, getting himself cornered might make it tough to get to the entrance.

Perhaps the friendlier Moby Dick would calm me down abit. Still looks hungry.

While I was in the neighborhood I picked up some places on the National Register of Historic Places.

Old Center Cemetery NRHP - established in 1714 and was the town's first cemetery.

Noah Webster Memorial Library - now a hair salon, built in 1915 and used for books for 20 or so years.

Noah Webster's Birthplace - a National Historic Landmark. Noah authored the American Dictionary and the Blue Back Speller, used to teach kids how to spell and read in a secular manner.

From here I jumped on I-91 to get past Springfield, since I was already there last week exiting onto US 202 heading into Granby. Found this much friendlier critter than the last 2.

Heading to my next spot I came across this incredibly scenic spot. This is the Christopher C. Aldrich Grist Mill perated as a distillery at first and then from 1836 to 1870 operated as a woolen factory supplying blankets for the Civil War.

Not too far away was Nash Dinosaur Tracks. Interesting story with this one. From my posting at

Discovered in 1939 by Carlton S. Nash. It is now run by his son Kornell. Admission is cheap at $3 and they sell dinosaur tracks prices ranging from $50 to $900. The dinosaur tracks can be found out back of the building wandering down the pathway. Carlton discovered the tracks one day as a teenager by kicking over a rock and there it was. He placed the rock back until he could purchase 2 or so acres around the rock. From there Nash Dinosaur Tracks developed.

Did stop at the Mt Holyoke Range State Park for the Americana Tour, even though I have enough State Parks for Mass.

Driving into Amherst I saw this lenticular bridge, which are becoming rarer and rarer these days as they are replaced. This used to carry vehicles and now a pedestrian bridge.

In Amherst I stopped at the Goodwin Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church ( on NRHP) which is located way off the street. The church was built in 1910.

stopped at Hampshire College and drove around the campus. This is the college that removed all American flags after one was burned on campus the night before veterans day. The school's president said that going forward, "no American flags will be flown on campus. Getting rid of the flag will allow us to focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors," Given that, I don't think it deserves a picture on my blog.

Drove around downtown Amherst for a place to grab a bit to eat and nothing really look appetizing so headed out of town of Rout 9. I have gone thru Brookfield hundreds of times and was always struck be the arch to the Brookfield Cemetery. Today I stopped and took pictures. Found out the cemetery is on the NRHP.

Picking up an "E" town for the Love and Merci Tour.

Another one of those spots I constantly pass. I am sure most riders in the Massachusetts area will recognize this one.

Last stop of the day was Wagner's BMW for the Americana Extreme tour. This is one of the specific stops. Looking at this pic, think the Spyder needs a bath.

Left right around 9:30 this morning and got home right around 6PM. Full day with some 225 miles or so. Dinosaur update, I have three of them for Massachusetts, can only use 1. I forgot I had gotten one in April on top of a building, so the 2 today were not needed, but then I would not have found out about the Nash guy.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hoops, Mills and Pollution

Heading out kind of late today, but I don't have a lot of miles to get in. Decided it was a perfect day to head for the Springfield area to pick up a couple of Extreme Americana Grand Tours spots and a TeamStrange location. Of course I filled in with a couple NRHP's spots. Right around 1:15 or so headed out and picked up Rout 20 thru Oxford following it thru the Brimfield area. Turned off onto Monson Rd and then Carpenter Rd, coming across the S.F.Cushamn and Sons Woolen Mill built in 1886. This wasn't a scheduled stop, just came across it and couldn't resist. This particular site has some problems with fires in the mill, with 2 previously burning down until this brick was built. The mill manufactured broadcloth, satinet, cashmere, doeskin, kersey and cloaking at various times. It has been abandoned for quite sometime

Right down the street before you hit RT32 in Monson is the William Norcross House built around 1775. Originally built as a tavern with a large ballroom on the upper floor, then became a boarding house for the Monson Woolen Co and finally restored as a private residence.

On Main St in Monson is Memorial Town Hall built in 1884 with stone quarried in the local area. The quarries near by supplied the granite used in the Springfield Armory. As mentioned above many taverns were built in Monson, since it was along the Bay Path, the primary route between Springfield and Boston. During the 19th and early 20th centuries many mills were built along the Chicopee Brook.

Before I got out of Monson, came across another abandoned mill. This was originally the power plant for the A.D. Ellis mill which was across the street and has since been torn down. In the 1980's Omega Metal Processing let go 2,800 gallons of cadmium cyanide into the Chicopee Brook. As it turns out the fish and this stuff don't like one another causing the fish to sleep with the fishes. Omega couldn't afford the clean up and abandoned the plant

Right next door is one of the Warehouses for the A.D. Ellis Mill built in 1871.

Turn around is the serene dam that helped power the mill. When I first walked up to take the picture, I must of spooked a crane, which was just rising from the dam. Of course I wasn't ready and I don't speak crane, so the shot was missed.

Made my way via RT312 south picking up May Hill Rd and passed one of the places I was suppose to stop at. Actually I did stop, was not sure if I was in the right place, pulled out my phone to confirm the spot and got the wrong place and moved down the street. I took a picture of what I thought was the place, when in fact where I was, was the place. It's off to Springfield for the Basketball of Fame.

I would have jumped on I91 to get to Chicopee, but the interstate is a mess right now and traveled thru downtown Springfield to eventually get up on the highway. Found myself at the Chicopee Safety Complex for another Americana Tour spots. Not sure why this place was selected, it just was.

Firemen's Memorial at the station.

Across the street is Edward Bellamy House built in 1830. Ed was an American author and socialist, most famous for his utopian novel, Looking Backward, a tale set in the distant future of the year 2000. I wonder how true his novel was. This is National Historic Landmark.

Right around the corner is T&L's Antiques. Neat old Victorian home built in 1875 for Amos Page, who was president of the Page Knitting Needle Manufacturing Company. The house was sold to the Chicopee Falls Masonic Home Association and then became T&L's preowned antiques and furniture.

One of the items I presumed is for sale and maybe used at one time, Twarog must have stopped making payments on the stone. The weather forecast today was maybe rain around 4pm. Forecast was right, it started a light rain.

What would one of my journeys be this year without a post office.

I love bridges so I couldn't resist. This is the Green-Towne Bridge, built by the American Bridge Company in 1939. It is on Chapin St just before it merges with RT 20 in Wilbraham. The bridge crosses over the Chicopee River where the Collins Paper Company built this dam in 1872. Today it is generating some electricity, about 1480Kw/

I am still out about 60 miles from home, the rain has picked up a bit. I still had 2 stops in Spencer, but decided I would blow these off and just head for the stable. Mileage for the day was just around 140 miles, but the roads taken were really scenic and interesting.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Pony Express Connecticut

I feel like I am getting into a rut with traveling in Connecticut. My primary driver to get me out is the Grand Tours that I participate in, today is no different. Eastern Connecticut just seems to be rich in L O V E towns so this is where I am heading. To keep me off highways I use historic sites to route me in Mapsource, the software I use for my GPS route planning.

While heading to my first stop, on North Rd in East Killingly I came across the Westcott family cemetery. Why do I stop and take pics of cemeteries. There is a Waymarking category for them and they can be quite photogenic. There are only 10 residents in this one.

North Rd. dumps out onto Hartford Pike, RT 101. Stopped for the first E town of the day.

Hung a right onto Peeptoad Rd (cool name, eh )NRHP (National Register of Historic Places) site, Elliotville Lower Mill. Peeptoad is a hard packed dirt road, however it is a town road and not a private road. The mill was built in 1850 as a cotton mill, owned by the Elliotville Manufacturing Company. The dam and pond provided the power for the mill. Today the mill is a residence, studio and craft exhibition space.

As I was taking pictures I saw a woman coming toward me from the property. This is not unusual, most of the time it is what am I doing, which I tell them I am an amateur photographer and historian, which satisfies the folks for the most part. That would not be the case today. The woman admonished me for taking pictures, telling me she has worked very hard on the property to get it to this point and did not appreciate me taking pictures of her property. I assured her my intents were purely innocent. Well for now the law states that a photographer is in the public domain they can take pictures of what ever they want. Since I was standing on a town owned street that is the public domain. That was my thought bubble, however I kept it to myself. No point getting into a never ending argument between us. You would think that the artist (see above) would appreciate another artist (cough cough) practicing their craft.

Following the back roads, RT 664, I worked my way to Glens Falls Bridge (NRHP) on Brunswick Ave in Plainfield. The Glen Falls Bridge is a single span wrought iron lenticular thru truss bridge built in 1886. It was built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company for the Town of Plainfield. It crosses the Moosup River and is adjacent to the former Glens Falls woolen mill. Brunswick Ave was once was a major road, closed sometime before 1989.

The lenticular part is the structure that looks like a rear axle leaf spring (well at least to me).

View of the Glens Falls Dam that was used to power the mill.

Not seeing any signs on the bridge to stay off, I ventured out to the middle.

Just up the road on RT 14 is the Aldrich Free Public Library, on NRHP. The Aldrich Free Library was built in 1895 in the Queen Anne style. The library was a created as a result of donations from David L Aldrich ($3,000) and Edwin Milner ($2,000), who were the town's leading industrialist, as well as smaller donations from community residents. The library opened on Washington's birthday in 1896. The architect was Charles F. Wilcox from Providence, RI. It is located in the village of Moosup, part of Plainfield.

Rt 14A splits off from RT 14, which heads to Sterling Hill. Grabbed the Oneco PO for the "O" and the Oneco Market right across the street. The store qualifies as a Local Grocery on Waymarking, but they are cool looking in their own right.

Further up 14A is Sterling Hill Historic District (NRHP). The majority of the homes are 18th century with the Sterling Hill Baptist Church the focal point, built in 1797. English settlement came shortly after 1700, with the area incorporated in 1721 as part of Voluntown. Route 14a was a major link between Rhode Island and central Connecticut. Many of the homes in the district served as taverns at one time or another. The residents of the area in 1797 built the present day church to serve as a meeting house and only occasionally did it serve as a religious place. In 1812, the trustees of the meetinghouse made it available to the Sterling Baptists.

Picked up RT 169, Canterbury Rd and headed south. Rt 169 is an America Byway and quite a scenic route. Saw the Lisbon Town Line marker which I will use as a "L" town.

Tried to get the Versailles PO but no sign, the Welcome to Versailles is much prettier anyways.

On CT 97, Bridge St is the Occum Hydroelectric Plant and Dam (NRHP).

The dam dates to 1865, was intended for providing water power down stream for mills in the area. In 1932 the dam was purchased by Norwich and reconfigured for electrical power generation. The dam is built of large irregular blocks of granite, which measures 14 feet high, 12 feet wide at the base and 6 feet wide at the top of the dam. The dam was heavily damaged in the 1938 hurricane, resulting in reconstruction of the eastern portion with reinforced concrete. There is a brick powerhouse on site. The interior space of the powerhouse is filled with a single vertical shaft three phase 4,000 volt, 8oo kw generator made by the Electric Machinery Manufacturing Company. It was constructed in 1934. The powerhouse served main functions: shelter for the controls and generators and support for the bridge crane used to lift the units up for service.

Picked up the Occum town line sign

On Ct 163 is the Bozrah Congregational Church (NRHP). Completed in 1843, the church served as a religious site as well as a meetinghouse for the town for 100 years. It is a white Greek Revival structure with the gable end prominently facing the street. The three stage tower does contain a large bronze bell.

In investigating the church normally the Congregational Churches in New England are affiliated with groups such as United Church of Christ. The Congregational Churches were organized in the States as individual societies to be run by the members without affiliation with a church in Europe, England or Asia. It appears the Bozrah Congregation Church has remained as the "Church of Pilgrims".

At the intersection of CT 163 and Oakdale Road is Raymond-Bradford Homestead (NRHP) in Montville CT. The original house was built in 1710, with updates to the structure in 1820 and then again in 1870. It was the home of Mercy Sands Raymond, who was associated with the pirate, Captain Kidd.

Following CT 163 into Oakdale for the PO and then East Lyme, Old Mystic and Ledyard. Old Mystic was turning north point of the journey to head for the barn.

In Preston at the intersection of Colonel Ledyard Highway and Spicer Hill Rd is Bill Gurdon's Store (NRHP). The store was built in 1818 and was located on an important cross road for the stage coaches. The store maintains its 19th century look and is the best preserved of its type in Connecticut. The store carried manufactured goods, seeds, tools, prepared foods, cloth and other sundries farming people would need.

Having left home in the morning without anything to eat and being after 4 pm, I came to the intersection of Mathewson Mill Rd and Norwich Westerly Rd. The light was red which gave me a chance to glance over to the right to see Jimmies. Light turns green and I make a U Turn and stop. I was thinking Ice Cream but then I saw a Bleu Cheese and Bacon Hotdog, which I ordered. Paid and went to sit down at the picnic tables to watch the girls softball teams arrive for a late afternoon ice cream after a game. My meal arrives and I discover they made me a Bleu and Bacon Grilled Cheese. No wonder why the bill was so much. Well I have to say this was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had and will be sure to try making one at home. Highly recommend a stop here if you are in the area.

As I left Jimmies my Android phone was playing the Moody Blues - "I know you are out there", which made me feel my brother-in-law John was with me along for the ride. John passed away a few years back and the Moody Blues was one of his favorite bands. Miss the guy for sure.

Traveling north via Branch Hill Rd hanging a right on CT 165 to Glasgo Rd for the Kinne Cemetery (NRHP), brought me to a dead end where the cemetery was suppose to be however it appeared to enter some private property so this was a bust. As I turned around, rather than heading back to the main road went the opposite direction to see if the cemetery was along this road. Instead found the Glasgo Dam that is being updated and rebuilt, it is 146 years old after all.

Quick stop in Voluntown for the V.

Headed north and east into Rhode Island for the E in Exeter.

All of the previous Grand Tour stops have been for Teamstrange. This spot is one of the specific locations for the GLMC Americana Extreme Tour.

One more post office in East Greenwich for Teamstrange.

And the fire station in East Greenwich, a general place to Americana Extreme. The general locations for this tour are state and national parks, schools, fire departments, dinosaurs, train stations, motorcycle shops and Diners / Drive Ins.

The last stop of the day is the Chapel by the Sea in Warwick RI. A specific spot for Americana Tour. This is right on the Providence River and a very scenic place. The chapel is used for a lot of weddings. When I pulled up the road was filled with water from the heavy rains we have been having and I pulled further into the driveway so I wouldn't be standing in ankle deep water while trying to capture the bike, flag and chapel. A lady came out and said feel free to pull in as far as you need. I assume she was the owner of the property and quite pleasant. Nice way to end the day for stops.

With 37 miles to go, made my way to I-295 to 146 to get home the faster. Pulled in right around 7;30pm, grabbed a Rolling Rock, put my feet up, feeling quite satisfied with the day's captures. Just over 200 miles for the day, on some great roads in Connecticut that I have not been on before.