Fall Foliage 1999

Or
Local Leaf Peepin'

      This is the first Leaf Peepin' special section in the Sandpiper. Leaf Peepin' is the act of driving around and looking at the fall folliage changing colors. Peak folliage is when the colors are at their brightest and it's pretty hard to predict. This year I was off a week with my original prediction. Next year: right on the money!

01 Comstock Covered Bridge

The first stop on any leaf peepin' tour is the Comstock Covered Bridge just off Route 16 east of East Hampton Connecticut. It should be noted that East Hampton seems to be substantially west and south of Hampton Connecticut.

Looking Down Stream from the bridge.

02 Down Stream

03 Up Strean

Looking up stream from the bridge. The bridge was built in 1797 I beleive. It's old.

A view of the ornamental, and functional, gates at the open ends of the bridge.

04 Inside The Bridge

05 Timbers

The timbers are old, the sheathing and roof has been replaced recently with rough cut wide boards very similar to the original.

Looking again up stream, from one of the windows of the bridge. The river is a prime fly fishing spot with a number of wheel chair accessible ramps that lead to small concrete pads that jut out into the river and have small curbs around the edges for safety. I've seen them used by people in wheel chairs, and people using walkers and canes. Every so often the state spends my tax money on things I approve of.

06 Up Stream From The Window

07 Vhy A Duck?

Just a short ride up the road we come to the second stop on any good leaf peepin' trip. The Viaduct. Besides being a great place to view the fall foliage from, the Viaduct has an interesting history.

When the "Iron Horse" came through these parts in the early 1800s, the tracks passed through the center of East Hampton, and eastward towards Colchester and Norwich..

08 Vhy Not A Horse?

09 Unspoiled View

The tracks needed to cross this scenic little valley, so they built an iron train trestle that was rumored to be the largest in the world at the time. Eighteen hundred and some odd feet long, and almost two hundred feet tall in the center. Being that Rustoleum hadn't been invented yet, the trestle began to rust, and within a few years was determined to be unsafe.

Not wanting to pay for another trestle, but still needing to cross the valley, the railroad needed a solution. One thing East Hampton had a lot of was bell foundries, and one thing they produced a lot of was ash and slag. Disposal was becoming a problem so ... Train after train full of slag and sand and ash was hauled to the trestle and dumped. Over a year or two they managed to fill the whole trestle up to the train tracks with a pile nearly two hundred feet thick at the base. In this picture you can see some people for scale, and some of the original trestle showing where the ash and cinders have washed away.

10 People And Original Trestle

11 Stay away From The Edge

This picture illustrate the massive scale of this thing. The sides disappear off into the trees almost two hundred feet below. The pile was originally covered with a layer of compacted cinders that lasted almost a hundred years. The pile is topped off with traprock and gravel now to prevent erosion. When I first saw the thing, you could see tire tracks where people were driving on it, and washed out skid marks over the edge and a number of crushed and burned vehicles near the bottom. Duh! The entrances are now blocked with boulders. This is one of the best unspoiled views in Connecticut. No houses, no wires, no roads. It's just perfect.

Next stop: Hurd Park on the Connecticut River. This almost five hundered acre state park has some very nice views of the Connecticut River Valley. Here we see a barge and tug rounding a bend on the river, heading south to the Sound (Long Island).

12 Hurd Park

13 The Overlook

A short hike up a moderate slope after parking the truck brings us to a beautiful overlook. This is a picture looking north along the ledge towards Split Rock.

Anyone familiar with the New Jersey Pine Barrens will recognize these as Scrub Pines. They're the only tree hardy enough to grow on the cliffs here.

14 Scrub Pines

15 The River

A view of the river through the pines. Notice how the picture is a little blurry. Some idiot had the digital camera set for macro focus. If the trees were two inches away we would be all set. Wonder who did that? Oh yea ... Me! I'll just have to go back next year.

This is a picture of Split Rock. It's basicly a big crack in the cliff that runs top to bottom and is almost two feet wide. If you were boppin' along the cliff and not paying attention, you could wind up at the bottom or stuck part way down. It's about sixty feet down so it wouldn't be fun.

16 Split rock

17 River And Pines

The river, through the pines, with some bright afternoon sun in the west.

Head of the trail, just short of the overlook.

18 Head Of The Trail

19 Scary Tree Face

The apple trees in the Wizard Of Oz have nothing on this guy.

Ruth Sadankas & Dep Acker, from Ocean Beach New Jersey, in front of a big rock.

20 Leaf Peepers

21 Ragged Rock Marina

A view of Ragged Rock Marina, just south of Hurd Park. This was almost the home of Adirondack Style Outdoor Furniture. Two acres of beautiful Connecticut River front property and a pre Army Corps Of Engineers approved dock.

This is the large boat rebuilding garage behind the marina building. There's a machine shop overlooking the river and a small apartment next to it. The garage has large sliding doors and is well lit by plenty of windows. There's a large overhead hoist, and rails running out into the yard to roll boats in with. There's also a set of rails running down into the water for hauling boats out.

22 Marina Building

23 Johnsonville

On to the next stop. Passing by Johnsonville, a former mill village just off Route 151 in Moodus Connecticut, restore by the Schmidt family. This is a view of the mill pond with a steam paddle wheeler on the far bank.

This is the site of the former Neptune mill, centerpiece of the village. It burned years ago and a fountain marks the site next to the dam and spillway.

24 Neptune Mill Site

25 Night Of The Living Deer

Night of the living deer. Actually a deer on the grounds of Gillette Castle State Park with eyes lit by the camera's flash. Gillete Castle was the home of William Gillette, a Broadway actor who found fame and fortune playing Sherlock Holmes around the turn of the century.

Unfortunately for this leaf peepin' season, the castle is closed for renovations, to correct years of neglect. Watch for a Sandpiper Special on the castle as soon as renovations are complete.

26 Renovations

27 Hadlyme Chester Ferry

That's the Hadlyme-Chester Ferry. Hadlyme is the town Gillette Castle is in. It's between Haddam and Lyme, and Chester is on the other side of the river. This is a quick shortcut to Essex, home of the Essex Steam Train Museum, a great place to spend an afternoon.

A quick trip over the river in Haddam past the Goodspeed Opera House to pick up supplies for a quick picnic by the river at the ferry landing.

28 Goodspeed Opera House

29 Train Whistle

You can watch the sunset, and river traffic from the benches at the small park next to the ferry landing, and hear the whisle of the steam train on the opposite bank.

A Sea Tow boat heading up stream to lend assistance to a stranded boater.

30 Sea Tow

31 Sunset

The start of a great sunset over the hills along the river valley in the west.

The river gets quiet as the sun gets lower.

32 Sunset

33 Boat

A boat heading south, probably to Essex or Deep River. Maybe to the Sound or farther.

This would be a good place to camp on a boat trip up the Connecticut River. Gillette Castle is walking distance up a steep trail from here.

34 Sunset

35 Sunset

Because of the hills along valley, river sunsets are over too quickly.

This means it's time to consider heading back home. It's about and hour and twenty minutes back to Dayville. After a great day of leaf peepin', it seems even longer.

36 Sunset


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