Lots of F’s
Devil’s Den v.Franklin, Rachel’s Hut, Giant’s Grave, Cushman Farms Trail
As I was wrapping up my “completion” of Franklin, I was determined to find a few things that had eluded me for years. Unfortunately, for different reasons, I failed finding all four. But since I’m not convinced that none exist, I’m putting together this page in the hopes that someone can help me out.
After all, who doesn’t want to know where every single CTMQ-type thing is in the oft-overlooked eastern Connecticut town? Good times.
Devil’s Den v.Franklin
One of several Devil’s Dens in Connecticut, this one is/was probably at Bailey’s Ravine/Ayers Gap. Unfortunately, I can find no one online mentioning it for over a decade. Perhaps it has caved in. Perhaps it’s been blocked off for safety.
Or, perhaps, it’s still there and everyone – including me – has been missing it for a decade. I hiked all around this Nature Conservancy with my son Calvin in 2018 and then returned in 2019 in an attempt to find this particular Devil’s Den. I failed.
I did find some pictures from some gun nut forum as well as a brief description. This was from 2008.
I went back to devils den today…I crawled into the first room of the cave. To the left is a passage that is now blocked off by a collapsed rock. To the right is a tunnel with writing at the end of it and an arrow. I crawled to a point where I would have to crawl on my side between two rocks, and sadly I [wimped] out.
My grandfather says there are only two rooms left on the inside, the rest collapsed when they blasted for the road down below in the valley. There were more rooms and passages with an exit on the other side of the boulder.
Looking at these 2008 photos, with their faded paint, and reading about its collapsed rooms back then, I’m guessing it is just no longer accessible. Let me know if I’m wrong.
I really thought I’d find this one. And it never occurred to me that this story may be apocryphal. If I recall correctly, during our visit to the Ashbel Woodward House Museum, the docent there told me that the “hut” does indeed exist.
Here’s what I wrote back in 2010:
One cool thing here is painting by Dr. Woodward’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sarah Day Woodward. It shows two well known Franklin scenes (“well known” is a relative term, obviously). They are Rachel’s Hut and Giant’s Grave. Rachel’s Hut is apparently across the street and up the hill (if I were alone, I’d have gone off in search of it… And probably will someday). Rachel, a Native American woman, would come up from the Stonington area, build a lean-to shelter of saplings against a rock and spend the summer there gathering herbs and roots to take back to her tribe. She also earned a little money cleaning the Franklin Congregational Church.
And here we are in 2019 and I did half-heartedly search for it. I parked at the Woodward House museum/DEEP shooting range (weird, I know) and trudged up the (very) steep hill across route 32. It was very slow going through laurel and other mess.
I was forced to sidehill a lot and frankly, I gave up pretty quickly. After all, from the painting above it looks like a stinkin’ rock outcropping. We’ve all seen a million rock outcroppings. Who really cares about Rachel’s outcropping? I guess if you know exactly where it is and think it’s important for me to check it out let me know.
Yeah. I’ve got nothin’. But some guy named Miguel commented on the Asabel Woodward post referenced above with some convoluted hypothesis that takes the gravesite out of Franklin and into Norwich.
Which might as well be true. Who knows. Here’s the commenters comment:
We believe we have solved the mystery of the Giants Grave. A map of Norwich published in 1868 shows the area of the Giants Grave lies just south of Great Pine Swamp and an Indian Burying Ground. In 1643 the was a battle in the area between the Mohegan and the Narragansett Indians. The Mohegan were well prepared for the battle and successfully defended against the Narragansett Indians. They captured Miantonomoh, the nephew of the Narragansett grand sachem,Canonicus. The Mohegan boasted about the capture of the great Narragansett giant. Uncas, the Mohegan Sachem turn him over to the Connecticut authorities and was tried in Boston. He was found guilty and Uncas was given authority to kill him. Miantonomoh was taken back to Norwich, where he had been defeated, and killed with a tomahawk by Uncas brother Wawequa. Since the Giants Grave lies by a Indian Burying Ground I think its likely that it pertains to Miantonomoh grave.
Cushman Farms Trail
This one bothers me. I really wanted to find and hike this trail in 2019. I searched around quite a bit, while trying not to draw too much attention from the fine farmers at Cushman Farms.
I visited the farm in 2010 with Hoang and Damian and had a great time. It’s a Farmers Cow farm which means free ice cream at certain events. While my family ate, I poked around and came upon this sign:
Granted, that sign was created 13 years prior to my 2019 visit, but c’mon! Farm trails should last! Perhaps it’s still there, but I certainly didn’t see the sign. I drove to both ends – the roads out here are pretty great to drive, by the way. Franklin offers a mix of farm and woods and the roads often transition between the two different scenes multiple times… anyway, I drove around and looked and checked around the two Cushman Farm facilities and… nothing.
Another Franklin Fail that I hope is a result of my ignorance and someone can help me out.