Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Riding Around New England Part Two
When you think Massachusetts, you think Boston, traffic, congestion, and other sordid things. Boston is not really sordid. It is a beautiful city and it is so full of history. You can feel it in the air. You breathe it when you are there. But getting there makes you sigh, just a little. Surprise! There is a lot more to Massachusetts! Head to the west and it doesn't take long to be in the wilderness. It is lovely. Hilly, forested, green. Rivers, wildlife, the works.
We headed out to the Deerfield Valley. Here you will find no traffic, winding roads, peaceful scenes. Not much different than when the first brave settlers came here all those many years ago. After you cross the French Kings Bridge, you are there! It's a beautiful, high, arching white bridge, as far as bridges go. I am not a fan of bridges. We parked in the pull off after crossing. Brash teenager walked across. I stood near the towers, my heart doing flips as the semis rolled across and the big bridge trwembled and shook. Thats where I found this swallow tail, lying lifeless near the curb. It is still beautiful, soft and the wind flutters the delicate wings.
The view from here is lovely, though, all rushing mighty waters of the Connecticut River. Green hill upon hills fading into the distance. Not much human habitation to be seen.
I had conjured up ramantic reasons for the name. What wonderful things had french kings done in Massachusetts? But I find it is named for French King Rock, a formation near by. No one can tell me why they named the rock that, either!
The road takes us along the old Mohawk trail. It is still here, the tress come right up to the edge of the road. I think some shadowy warriors still walk silently through this , their old traveling places. I think they hear the fluting song of the wood thrush, like I do. I think they hear the splash of falling water. I think they hear the whisper of the summer leaves. There is much history here, too. Once these woods were all cleared away, and farms filled the valleys. Cows grazed. Orchards bloomed. Corn grew. Mill wheels turned. Every small town you go through has crumbling old brick factory buildings by the rivers.
Therer are still sweet little farms here and there. Farms with tractors, and cows and meadows and orchards. They sit snuggly in the valleys, still. Mostly there is no manufacturing any more. Thats the way of progress. The Deerfield River is wild and foamy after all the rain. The white water rafters and kayakers are out gleefully bouncing along. Oh, I remember the stories I read. About the Indians who swooped down and burned and destryed, and brought their captives walking through the dark forests to Canada. That would be an awful long, weary hike.
We come to the Hoosic Tunnel. Trains still come through it. Not like they used to, in its heyday, but they still do. You don't have to walk in very far, and it's DARK. Dark and dank and cold and clammy. It is four and three quarters miles long. It goes through Hoosic Mountain, called so by the Indians, meaning place of rocks. It was the only way to get through to Albany N.Y. They wrangled over it for years. The official ground breaking on the north end was in 1851. They began the east side in 1852. The official opening was not until 1876. Hundreds of men worked three shifts, blasting and pick axing through the mountain. Hundreds of them died. Some years nothing was done, because of money and changing government, and the Civil War. Lots of money was spent, and wasted. But it did get done. For awhile it was the longest tunnel in the United States. Lots and lots of trains went through it.
Now only a few freight trains go through, The lonely track goes on, out of sight, winding across the country. Of course there,s plenty of Ghost Stories. It did have a bloody past. People hear horrible noises when they go deep inside. Why do they go? I wonder..the very rocks probably moan and the winds are frightened when they blow through that utter darkness! I'll stay on the outside, thanks. Wild strawberries grow along the tracks, and thimble berries, and wild flowers.
We wind along the river, past housed and hills. Past towns and bridges. Up into Vermont, and home. Someday, go to Old Massachusetts. Let your imagination run free. Feel the sunshine. Hear the birds. Smell the new mown hay. You won't be sorry.
See you in the misty hills!