Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 4, 2015 walking the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Trail and an unexpected encounter

After our valiant attempt at a cookout, we ate in drizzle and then packed it in to waste an afternoon watching a four hour true story on TV. 
When the skies cleared, we decided to try and salvage more of the day by heading over to People's Forest to see how the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Descendant celebrations were going. It was supposed to last until 8 pm, but when we got there, the festivities were over. I'm sure the weather put a little damper on their time too.
So, we decided to go for a ride and ended up at the Lighthouse Trail. I truly don't remember walking it before as I always thought you had to go to the top of the mountain and thought it would be a hard hike. George said he had been before, but the sign posts weren't there when he went. I was glad to realize it is a very easy hike.
First stop was the cemetery. Now, you can see I am getting lazy in my writing when I realize I can just take a picture of the description. No sense putting it in my own words.
The flags represented two from the Revolutionary War and two from the Civil War.

Cemetery marker

Next stop on the trail are some of the cellar holes. It seems to me if the stage coaches could see the lights on Ragged Mountain, there had to be a lot less trees on the mountain at that time.

A little further along is the stone quarry. A lot of man power went into preparing the stones.

Stone quarry

George asked, "Are you taking a picture of the rock?" Oh, yes. I love rocks and this one had character.

Next sign post explained the site of the charcoal kilns where they produced fuel for iron furnaces of northwest Connecticut.

The final sign post shows the grinding stone where corn meal was prepared.

As I observed these places, I imagined how special it must be for the descendants to stand where there know their ancestors stood. I imagined since many were not local, that some would probably take one last chance to say "good bye".  I would want to if it were me.
When we came back to the beginning of the trail, we took a moment to look at this sign post and start a conversation with another person who was there. It was obvious by his t-shirt that he was one of the descendants and we had a nice time talking to him.
Eric Chiapponi was originally from Connecticut but now lives in Virginia and works at the justice department in Washington, D.C.  Interestingly although he likes Virginia weather, he said he loves Connecticut. As we talked about surrounding towns and his ancestors, and our lives, he showed us some pictures that he had brought with him to the reunion.

Civil war photo

It was fun to hear of his enthusiasm of Connecticut and his ancestors. He was honest to say that all the history is not rosy and perfect like the happy reunion commemorates. There was suicide, alcoholism and other unpleasant memories that contributed to some of his older relatives not wanting to participate in the festivities. It reminded me of family history my parents have told me that was not rosy too.
It is interesting when you meet strangers. There is always a hunt for commonalities. We were close a couple of times with connections to Norfolk and Salisbury and a little postal connection and with parents that both worked at Royal Typewriter. He related an interesting anecdote about how his father told him that they would have a typewriter dropped from an aircraft and then someone would be told something to type on it and the paper was run over to someone else to read it, to prove how sturdy the typewriters were.
We enjoyed meeting Eric and having our own personal encounter with a descendant of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Indians. We appreciate that our hometown has this unique piece of history all our own and since I love lighthouses, pretty neat to live in a place where they referred to the lights that many used as a beacon as a lighthouse right here in Barkhamsted.


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