Guided Hike: Early Orange History and Present-Day Natural Beauty Saturday Morning

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Nov 012013

Hike in the woodsThe Orange Land Trust will be leading a guided hike at the Howard Brooks’ Wepawaug Conservation area on Saturday, Nov. 2. Hikers should meet at 9:30 a.m. at the parking lot on Mapledale Road (across from Cherry Hill Road). GPS location coordinates in decimal degrees: 41.2943 / 73.0302.

This moderate to challenging hike will include information on the historical highlights of the area, a view of an old mill foundation and flume cut through solid rock, and a walk through the Wepawaug Ravine. The area has great beauty, that is very visible at this time of year with the reduced foliage, and a rich history of early Orange water-powered industry. Here, we can still see the remains of a mill that, at one time, made fabric for union soldier’s uniforms during the Civil War.

If you have visited the grist-mill and saw-mill at Sturbridge, Massachusetts, you can easily imagine how this area looked with several mills in operation along the river, from the early settlement days of the seventeenth century to the turn of the twentieth. Interestingly, the Alling Tavern, where the mill workers often ate their meals, is still standing across Route 34 at Mapledale Road. Can you think of the aroma of fresh baked, wholegrain bread and beef stew at lunchtime on a gray and chilly autumn afternoon? What a welcome for travelers arriving and those workers as they crossed the Derby Turnpike toll road and approached the door ready for a mid-day meal.

Now, with the leaves mostly fallen, we can see more of the landscape within the area, and with the rainy weather of fall, the natural rock-walled ravine should be a sight to be seen with plenty of water flowing through.

In addition, we will look over the remains of a 20 foot stone chimney and learn the folksy story of a depression-era structure known as “Jim Neal’s cabin”.

Please wear appropriate footwear as there are some rocky areas and some “ups and downs” in the trail. We recommend hiking boots/shoes or shoes/sneakers with a good tread. A good hiking stick or trekking pole(s) can be helpful.

This free hike, conducted by volunteers of the Orange Land Trust, is not at all difficult for those who are sure-footed and presents an opportunity to reconnect with our town’s history and beauty. All are welcome and please bring a friend.

So, bake some bread, get the ingredients for your favorite stew simmering in the crock-pot and plan to join us! Only steady rain showers will cancel.

For information, call Chris at 203-397-7599.

Originally Published on: Oct 29, 2013 @ 12:12