Monday, October 29, 2007

Wandering around the edges of South Manoosnoc the rain. Here is a pile right next to the "blue dot" trail which is a forest road starting up from Elm Str. and crossing under the power lines just before where the main hill rears up on the right. This pile was right after the power lines on the left of the trail. Obviously it is a favorite place for dumping things. The only thing that stops me from dismissing it is that the rocks are well weathered - they have been in this position for a while.Unfortunately, the pile was isolated and it is hard to credit a pile out of context with other piles. Here is a magnificent bit of rock splitting. I was trying to figure out where they removed rock. It seems like all the pieces are still there. Also I thought I saw a burnt rock nearby. Did good rock splitting technique utilize fire? The Gages would know. And here we are with a couple of (also isolated) piles on the southern slope of the southern sub-hill of the South Manoosnoc "massif".Nice to be up there in the rain but my shoes and pants got sopped. As I mentioned: without context, an isolated rock pile is not very informative. So it is not clear if there was ever anything significant over here south of South Manoosnoc. There are some huge quarry scars:
What you see in the background of this picture extends for several hundred yards up and over the hillside. I think there is at least one other such scar. You can see the scars from Google Maps. As it stands, I have found interesting structures on several of the hills around South Manoosnoc but nothing significant on the main hill; which seems peculiar since it is tallest hill around and would provide good views. However it is not certain if I ever got to the actual summit - maybe I was just up to the top of the southern sub-summit? Sometime I'll have to go back although I have spent a lot of time there already. Speaking of spending time there - in turns out you can actually go through very dense mountain laurel if you want. It is when you are trying to go up a steep bank of it, mixed with rose bushes or rasberries that it gets impossible.


JimP said...

It's true that the first photo could indeed be an ancient rock pile covered over with recent debris cleared from the trail.

But it could also be the evidence left from regular pilgrimages by local Indians to a classic Massachusetts, "Tavern," or trailside shrine. The site may hold historic importance, it could be the resting place of a particularly notable ancestor, or it could also contain some kind of spiritual importance tied to local oral tradition.

I've seen evidence at sites throughout Rhode Island that there continues to be limited observance of Tavern traditions. I wouldn't be surprised if it continued across Massachusetts as well in isolated places.

James Gage said...

Quarried Boulder - This is an example of a field boulder quarry. The boulder was quarried using the commercial version of plug and feather method (1803-present). The boulder was being split apart into long rectangular bars by a boulder reduction technique popular in the 1830-1850 period. Examples of quarried or partially quarried boulder with all of the stone pieces still present on the site turn up on fairly regular basis. Why these boulders were abandoned is not well understood. In some cases the boulder split irregular and was not suitable for building purposes. Examples like this one, however, are building quality pieces.

Fire methods of quarrying were largely employed prior to the introduction of the more modern (& more precise and efficient) methods of splitting stone. The fire burnt stone nearby may be the remains of a camp fire, forest fire, or other human activity.

James Gage