Sunday, May 7, 2017

Corning Nutmeg

This has been my slowest start for riding season for the last 10 years. Weather has been the greatest, but I find as I move along in years, I am less tolerant of bad or cold weather to hop on the bike and hit the roads. I am participating in 2 Grand Tours this season. The Americana Extreme Grand Tour is sponsored by GLMC and is pretty simple in concept. There are 7 categories; State / National Park, Train Stations, Schools, Dinosaurs, fire department, motorcycle shops and Drive-ins and Diners. For Team Strange it is Love & Merci Grand Tour, centering around the Merci Cars and the word LOVE used for various places to ride to.

Information on Merci Trains

"The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii. Parades and ceremonies of welcome were conducted in the state capitols and major cities of almost all the states. The largest and most attended was in New York City where more than 200,000 people turned out to welcome that state's assigned box car."

Up at 5am I planned 2 routes. One to take me out to the Hartford and Springfield area for Grand Tours spots and 1 more local, primarily centering around sites on the The National Register of Historic Places.. Still a bit cool out, I waited to afternoon, deciding to take the shorter of the 2 routes. Today's trip will be historic in nature.

First planned stopped was out in East Woodstock. I routed myself on the back roads to get there. As I was riding along and really don't have an agenda, I could stop along the way and just take some pictures for the picture sake. Saw this silo out of the corner of my eye and thought it could make an interesting picture.

Right across the street is the Tourtellot Cemetery. Nothing special about this other than it is a Waymark category. Oldest person I could find is Abraham Tourtelotte, died May 1779, age 54 yrs, Revolutionary War.

Couldn't resist this shot. Matter of fact I backed up the bike to get it

Just down the road is the Wilsonville Cemetery. This one is a bit odd, the land parcel is a rectangular with the short side facing the street, however there is a minor side street which the long end faces. Wilsonville was home to S.M. Wheelock and Co. a manufacturer of woolen goods. Eugene Wheelock born and raised in Uxbridge was put in charge of the mill in 1867, supervising 100 workers. Today Wilsonville is one of the villages of Thompson CT.

In the cemetery is a zinc tombstone. All zinc gravestones came from the same company in Connecticut, and were made from about 1870 to 1912 (when the company stopped producing them). Each stone was created individually for the person who ordered it, with a variety of personalizations available.

Usually I have all my destinations set for the day, however today I only have 3 destinations, not a lot of miles to do enabling me to take the time and just stop at some interesting sites. This site was known as Wilsonville Mill or Keegan Mill. It originally had a wooden grist mill on site with expansion to the store mill pictured. Keegan Mill, originally built by Smith Wilkinson, which was a major employer in the area for some 100 years. The mill itself seems to be abandoned however the other buildings have activity.

The first planned stop of the day is the Captain Seth Chandler House in East Woodstock, CT. The Chandler House is composed of two sections: a circa 1760 two-story main block with ell being added around 1780. The house was vacant from the 1950's to 1983. The house was built by Captain Set Chandler, a descendent of the early Woodstock settler family. Chandler served in the Revolutionary War, was a leader in the community. The house and land were sold to the Converse family who farmed the surrounding land until 1983. This house is on the National Register of Historic Places, one of my Waymark categories and just places I go and visit.

Heading into North Grosvenordale along Red Bridge Rd. I came across this field that was pure yellow. If it were summer time I would have thought it was the mustard field I came across in Maine. Time to pause and take a capture.

Coming down the hill turning onto Reardon Rd which joins Main St I was confronted by this building. It was so appealing I stopped for a pic. What little information I found was on the Thompson property tax data base. It was built in 1815, is a residential property with a total assessed value of 130K. To me I conjure up images of horses and carriages gathering around the entrance where the local blacksmith performs the invaluable service of shoeing horses. The blacksmith and his wife along with the 6 sons and daughters, with the oldest being 18 live on the second floor. The wife performs seamstress activities for the folks in the neighborhood, having a commercial Singer sewing machine.

A left onto Main St takes me to the second scheduled stop of the day, the North Grosvenordale Mill Historic District. I stop for my first picture of the mill a ways back to get a wide angle view of the mill.

I see 3 people (2 female and 1 male) a couple of hundred feet away, waving their hands. I walk toward them wincing at the pain from my right ankle. They are talking to me, however I point to my ears on the outside of the helmet, indicating I can't understand what they are saying. Of course a conversation strikes up and the guy is most interested in the Spyder. Since owing the Spyder I have had more conversations about this bike than any other bike I have owned. We have been talking for about 10 minutes and I ask if they mind if I take their picture. They were more than happy. I said give me a minute while I limp back to the bike and get a picture.

Meet Debbie and Running Something or Other. Not meaning any disrespect, I kick myself now not getting his name straight and meant to go back and get it. I got involved with taking more pictures and forget until I was too far away. Neat Newfoundland, very calm and friendly.

The North Grosvenordale Mill Historic District consists of over 100 houses and other mill-related structures surrounding a large former textile mill in North Grosvenordale, a village in the Town of Thompson. The center of activity in district was Mill #2. In 1862 the mill employed 850 people and became one of the largest, most productive and longest lasting mills in Connecticut. The mill was initially powered the dam nearby. With the mill came the mill housing, commercial activity and religious facilities along with the government and civic buildings. The French Canadians and Swedish immigrants provided the majority of labor.

The Mill Store - Empire style building built in 1872. This also served at the village's jail for a period of time. Looks more like a hotel than a jail.

"Three Rows" Mill Houses built in 1872 for the mill workers. Today they are one to four bedroom apartments. There must be 20 or so buildings in this neighborhood with all of them reconditioned.

Right next door to the above are the GREEK VILLAGE" Mill Houses. These were built in 1872 as well. These are in substantially worse shape than the Three Rows houses. I would hope the rent is much cheaper as well.

I took a bunch of other photos as further documentation of the historic district and then started to leave town when I caught this place out of the corner of my eye. It's about 2:30pm and realized that all I had this morning was coffee what better thing to have is a hot dog. Famous Franks has been in business for 9 years and is now expanding into the section right next door, where all the work is going on. Right now they specialize in hot dogs, but will expand the menu when open, expected to be within a month. The craftsmanship inside is unbelievable and there will be outside seating as well.

I headed to the other entrance for some dogs. This is the owners daughter and the chief chef of the day. I ordered the Great Dane with was the dog, with bacon, cheese. Russian dressing and Doritos. I passed on the Doritos because of the high calorie content. [cough cough]

No more scheduled stops charged up the GPS to head for home the shortest route to avoid highways and make the trip interesting. Part of the route was on Quaddick Road, coming across this very scenic covered pedestrian bridge over a dam.

Seeing signs for Quaddick State Park, figured I might as well pick up one of two state parks for the Americana Extreme Grand Tour, rerouted the GPS for the park. Did enter the park and drove around, ending up at the beach area of the park. Took a picture of the beach and lake and saw a person heading my way. I knew he was going to question me about the picture taking. He states, "Why are you taking pictures of my family". Reply, "I am not, taking pictures of the lake". He said, "Looks like you are taking pictures of us". I say, "I am in a scavenger hunt". With that said, he relaxes and the conversation becomes much more civil.

Last stop of the day is the border crossing between Connecticut and Massachusetts on East Thompson Rd. I have passed this many times and today I decided to get a picture for the Waymarking category, Border Crossings.

Not a lot of miles today, well under 100 miles, but still good to be out and about.

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