Mine Hill Preserve

Mine Hill granite cliff in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Mine Hill granite cliff (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

A huge piece of granite sits comfortably in front of the fireplace of a home built in Roxbury,  Connecticut in the late 1800’s.  This stone is worn from the feet that stood upon it while cooking food, and blackened by embers that fell onto its surface throughout the decades.  Though you can see this is an old piece of stone, and imagine by its size that the weight was somewhat unwieldy when originally placed there, what the granite can’t tell you is its history.  But I can.

Casting furnace with oven in background in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Casting furnace with oven in background (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

This immense piece of granite, along with many others that adorn the foundations of local homes, churches and bridges throughout Roxbury, its surrounding towns and even as far as New York City, came from a mine only a few miles down the road.  Now called the Mine Hill Preserve, this 19th century granite quarry and iron processing site encompasses 360 acres in Roxbury (on the National Register of Historic Places) and includes miles of trails filled with historical view points.  Walk along narrow donkey paths that lead to a reservoir, pass ancient mine tunnels and grated air shafts, look up at massive granite cliffs and piles of discarded rubble, ultimately finding yourself back to the roasting ovens and furnace structures once used to process iron ore in the mid 1800’s.

The Mine Hill Preserve (www.roxburylandtrust.org/minehill.html) is an historic property that reflects both the implications that quarries and mines had with regard to producing jobs and improving the livelihood of local workers at the time, along with the

Trail lined with Mountain Laurel in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Trail lined with Mountain Laurel (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

resulting beauty as nature was once again allowed to take over when these industrial sites were abandoned.  Although evidence of man’s intervention are witnessed throughout this breathtaking property, Mother Nature has reclaimed her territory quite boldly with stunning plants, shrubs and trees cropping up to fill in areas that were once stripped and barren.  Although the stone structures of the roasting ovens and casting furnace are architectural treasures to behold, the trails that weave throughout the preserve are what I found most breathtaking.

** For other fabulous places to hike visit HAPPY TRAILS and for walking try GREAT DESTINATIONS ~

Multi-layered rock in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Multi-layered rock along trail (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I started out on the donkey trails, which are relatively flat areas built up with stone walls to keep them at a consistent height.  As you walk higher, the ground is peppered with gravel and small rocks.  Roots of trees weave across the pathway and branches of hemlock gently brush your face.  The higher you go, the trickier the terrain becomes, yet it is also the most beautiful part.  Dense sections of lush native mountain laurel, some towering over ten feet tall, accompany you over a good distance.  Curious rock outcroppings appear like phyllo dough, layered with crevices and filled with ferns and moss.  Large boulders make up a portion of the path and moss is worn away only from the areas where feet have trodden.  Granite cliffs are draped with plants and leftover slabs mingle between trees and vines.  Grates cover tunnels and airshafts which emit cool, musty air; unpleasant conditions for human habitation but perfect locations for bats to hibernate over winter.

Mine tunnel entrance in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Mine tunnel entrance (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

All in all, this precious piece of land is an exquisitely harmonious balance of man-made structures touched by nature’s magic wand.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a nice hiking trail…one to put on my spring to do list

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