Pop­u­lar event ex­pands to in­clude all of Oc­to­ber

The Day - Sound & Country - - Walk - BY KATE CAREY-TRULL SPE­CIAL TO THE DAY

WWhat started as a one-week­end event has grown into a month­long cel­e­bra­tion of the nat­u­ral and his­toric sur­round­ings in north­east­ern Con­necti­cut. Res­i­dents and vis­i­tors can ex­plore the trea­sures of the Na­tional Her­itage Corridor through guided walks, bike rides and pad­dles. In its 18th year, the Quinebaug-Shetucket Her­itage Corridor has ex­pand­edWalk­ing Week­endS to the whole month— now known asWalk­to­ber.

Through­out the month, there will be more than 100 free trail events and more than 50 re­gional events also listed in the brochure (avail­able at www. the­last­green­val­ley.org). There are 79 dif­fer­ent walks, some of which are re­peated, for a to­tal of 105. Thirty-four of th­ese are new this year. Last year more than 6,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pated in the walks to learn more about the area and its nat­u­ral re­sources.

Dr. Ni­cholas Bel­lan­toni, state arche­ol­o­gist, will lead a walk called “The Vam­pires of Jewett City.” In the 1990s, Bel­la­toni ex­am­ined a de­com­posed cof­fin in which the bones had been ar­ranged in a skull and cross­bones pat­tern over the ribcage, ac­cord­ing to the “Vam­pires of Rhode Is­land,” by Christo­pher Ro­d­ina.

Ac­cord­ing to “Leg­endary Con­necti­cut,” by David E. Phillips, a Jewett City fam­ily in the 1850s came to be­lieve one of their fam­ily mem­bers was com­ing back from the dead and mak­ing oth­ers in the fam­ily ill. So, they dug up two of the broth­ers’ graves and burned their re­mains. It is likely the fam­ily be­came ill with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, which is highly con­ta­gious.

“It is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to get out and see por­tions of east­ern Con­necti­cut that they might not be fa­mil­iar with,” said Bel­lan­toni, who has been in­volved in the walks from the start. “I think that is why it has been so suc­cess­ful, peo­ple are learn­ing about his­tory right in their back­yard.”

He said he will show peo­ple how dif­fer­ent tomb­stones re­flect the chang­ing at­ti­tudes to death through­out his­tory in New Eng­land. He also will talk about the in­ci­dents he’s been in­volved in ex­plor­ing.

“Peo­ple didn’t un­der­stand the trans­mis­sion of dis­eases and they be­lieved the dead came back to fam­ily mem­bers to spread the dis­ease,” Bel­lan­toni said.

Also in the spirit of Oc­to­ber, ghost hunter Donna Kent and lo­cal his­to­ri­ans will lead a “Lantern Light Grave­yard Walk” in Nor­wich. The one-hour walk­ing tour will be through the Old Nor­wich­town Burial Ground and the Nor­wich­town Green. It will be on Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. Kent is the au­thor of “Ghost Sto­ries and Leg­ends of East­ern Con­necti­cut.”

Kent has been in­volved in the event for seven years and said the evening walks have been pop­u­lar. If the group is large, it splits up with dif­fer­ent guides. Along with talk­ing about the in­ter­est­ing his­tory of the ceme­tery, which in­cludes Bene­dict Arnold’s mother’s grave and Sa­muel Hunt­ing­ton’s grave, Kent talks about how to take ghost pho­tos and how to tell real pho­tos from fake ones. She said there are of­ten teens and chil­dren on the tour, so she stresses the im­por­tance of re­spect­ing ceme­ter­ies in hopes of help­ing to pre­vent van­dal­ism.

“It is a great event to get peo­ple out and learn about the his­tory. We have a lot of re­peat vis­i­tors as well as new vis­i­tors ev­ery year,” she said. The first year 50 peo­ple reg­is­tered for this walk, but more than 300 showed up.

New this year, there will be a few pad­dling events, two in Ox­ford, Mass., and one in Mans­field.

Alan Dabrowski will be the guide for “Pad­dle the Scenic French River,” a sixmile flat pad­dle. It will be a four- to five-hour leisurely pad­dle, start­ing at the base of Hodges Dam in Ox­ford, Mass., and end­ing at North Vil­lage in Web­ster, Mass.

Par­tic­i­pants need to bring their own ca­noe or kayak and be able to pad­dle the dis­tance. It will be lim­ited to 30 boats and regis­tra­tion is re­quired for this event. Con­tact him at dabrowski@ char­ter.net to reg­is­ter and find out more.

“It is a very un­der­used river; peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how beau­ti­ful it is,” Dabrowski said. “It is a re­ally nice area and could be bet­ter uti­lized.”

He said fall is a great time to get out on lo­cal rivers and view the fo­liage from a dif­fer­ent van­tage point.

The other tour on the French River also re­quires reser­va­tions and will be a five-mile trek from Green­briar Recre­ation Park to Hodges Vil­lage Flood Con­trol Fa­cil­ity.

The Mans­field pad­dle is an easy three-hour pad­dle spon­sored by the Friends of Mans­field Hol­low. Par­tic­i­pants will ex­plore the rivers that feed the reser­voir and see wildlife. Osprey and bald ea­gles have been spot­ted in the past.

For ci­ti­zen sci­en­tists, The Last Green Val­ley­Wa­ter Qual­ity Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gram Co­or­di­na­tor Jean Pillo will teach peo­ple how to use in­sects to in­di­cate wa­ter qual­ity. This one-mile, twoand-a-half-hour easy walk will be in Put­nam, along the Lit­tle River Green­way.

There will be one bike ride this year, in Thomp­son. Spon­sored by the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers, “Bike Ride at West Thomp­son Lake” will fol­low old paved roads and wind­ing trails through fields and for­est. The dis­tance will de­pend on the group.

Call The Last Green Val­ley toll-free 866-363-7229 or go to www.the­last­green­val­ley.org for a freeWalk­to­ber Brochure, which lists all the walks and event dates and times. Brochures also will be avail­able at the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coven­try, the Pru­dence Cran­dall Mu­seum in Can­ter­bury and the Stur­bridge Area Tourist In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter in Stur­bridge, Mass.


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