Monday, June 17, 2019

Archive for the ‘New England’ Category


Posted by Stu On December - 28 - 2009

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Dogtown, found between Gloucester and Rockport (yes, the same Rockport where that silly Paper House is) has a long and unusual history.  Settled as early as 1641, the town never became too big, with its peak population in the early 1800’s reaching a few hundred.  Farming was next to impossible due to the rocky ground, so the sea was a major provider of industry.  Trading, fishing, and war kept the men busy, but also made a fair share of widows.  Men were often lost at sea, and the Revolution took its toll as well.

By the 19th century, especially during the War of 1812, families died out or moved on to greener pastures, and drifters, ex-pirates, and other undesirables began squatting in some of the abandoned homes.  As the dredges of society moved in, the remaining families and widows relied on dogs for protection.  Eventually, the people left and the dogs ran wild, hence the town’s name.
I was unable to find the town’s original name, if it even had one.  It’s only referred to as Dogtown, even though it existed well over a century before being labeled as such.

Dogtown had been abandoned for quite some time by the Great Depression, when a rich man named Roger Babson, who had great interest in the town’s history, researched the town’s residents and began to mark their paths and former dwellings.  Today, some of the cellar holes have a last name or number posted along the trail; the numbers correspond to a map created by Babson.
Also noteworthy, and probably what drives people to visit the ruins more than anything else, are Babson’s “inspirational” boulders.  Out-of-work stone cutters were hired by Babson during the Depression to carve motivational messages into about 30 of the boulders scattered about town.  Today the Babson Boulder Trail is marked, and many of these rocks are along it.  Others are more hidden or are down side paths.





The entrance to the Dogtown trail is pretty skeevy, with trash and graffiti all over.  It doesn’t look like the area is maintained much.  There is a holder with some maps in it.  We took one and found the trails aren’t too well marked.  The map itself was pretty hard to follow too.

…so, as usual, we said screw it and winged it.  At first we were only able to find a few numbers.  There are several rock walls and paths running here and there in the woods.  It was pretty cool knowing these were walking paths first used nearly 4 centuries ago.  With pretty steady foot traffic from the 1640’s til the 1810’s, it’s no surprise these are still well defined.




We walked around for a good hour and pretty much saw nothing but rock walls and paths.  None of the famed boulders were in sight.  Admittedly, we were pretty lost, and the few times we attempted to use the map, we thought we were somewhere else on the grounds.  That’s about when we stumbled into Town Square.


Finally having a reference point, we noticed we weren’t all that far from the boulder trail.  Off we went.  And we finally saw them, almost in rapid succession.













There are others as well.  While I admire Babson’s generosity in hiring unemployed stone cutters to carve these, I wonder who his target audience was, since nobody was living here by this time.


Popularity: 12% [?]

Old Stone House Ruins in Scarborough State Park

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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This place can be found along the water in Scarborough State Park.  We noticed it coming back from the Block Island Ferry.  Really not much to say, other than it’s impressive oceanfront ruins.  Poison ivy abounded here; luckily I managed to avoid it.












Popularity: 22% [?]

Ocean View Hotel Ruins

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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Not far from the port on Block Island can be found the ruins of the Ocean View Hotel, destroyed by fire in 1966.  Sections of the foundation and some rubble are all that remains of it today.  The area also had quite a bit of poison ivy, so needless to say, I had to tread very carefully.




Part of the area has been maintained by schoolkids and is being used as a garden.  We didn’t see anything growing when we were there though.






The above bluff is right by the hotel site.  A small plaque on the ground tells of a couple being married on this spot.


Popularity: 90% [?]

Touro Park “Viking Tower”

Posted by Stu On August - 26 - 2009

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I had been meaning to get to this one for a number of years, but it was usually out of the way.  Since we were touring a mansion in Newport, I finally had a chance to get to the “Viking Tower” in Touro Park.  Nobody seems to be clearly sure of its age or who built it.  There are 2 major sides to the theory of this structure’s origin – some people think it’s the remains of some sort of mill from the 16-1700’s, while others feel it was built much earlier – around 1000 – by Vikings.


The tower, windmill, or whatever it was sits in the middle of the park, surrounded by a small fence.  There are lights at its base, and a statue of William Ellery Channing – a prominent Unitarian from the 1800’s – is nearby.




I found a 360-panoramic of Touro Park.  Kinda trippy.

…wow, ‘trippy’ isn’t in my spellchecker.

Popularity: 9% [?]


Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2008

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This southern New Hampshire ghost town was the first European inland settlement in the state. Built around 1737, Monson would not last very long; it died sometime in the 1770’s. Considered one of the most archaelogical significant sites in New England, its ruins have remained for the most part undisturbed for over 200 years.

Monson has the usual ghost town stuff – rock walls, cellar holes, a restored house, etc. However, there is also a sign indicating who each house belonged to, and some house sites even have a short bio on the person who lived there.

Monson was supposed to have been developed in 1998, but luckily local citizens fought to have it preserved.

Popularity: 8% [?]

Desert of Maine

Posted by Stu On December - 27 - 2008

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A desert in Maine is just about as out of place as a palace in West Virginia. The Desert of Maine technically isn’t a true desert; it’s made up of glacial silt rather than sand. The silt was deposited here during the last Ice Age, and over the years it became buried under topsoil. When the Tuttle family built a farm here in the 1700’s, overgrazing and poor soil maintenance slowly eroded the topsoil away, and one day the “sand” finally emerged from its slumber. It grew, and despite all their efforts to stop the spread, the Tuttle family was eventually forced to abandon farming by the early 1900’s. The property was sold and turned into the tourist attraction it is today. The only remainder of the Tuttle farm is a barn that now serves as a sort of mini museum.

Visitors can take a guided driven tour of the desert or can walk it solo. Since we stayed at the desert’s campground overnight, we got to walk it for free. There are signs here and there marking points of interest, like old Tuttle farm equipment or trees buried in the dunes.

All in all, it’s a neat little oddity to check out. Keep in mind, though, that you’re essentially paying to walk around to look at sand..errr, glacial silt. So if that sounds corny to you, you probably won’t want to check this out.
I thought it was a fun stop though.


Popularity: 9% [?]

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