Clatter Valley Road Parcel Preserves Ancient Path

 

                                                                         

 

 



Bobbie Emery, who grew up near Clatter Valley Road, and whose family once owned much of the land surrounding it, found an arrowhead left behind by one of those early hunters. Former Connecticut State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni estimated the projectile point to be 4,000 to 6,000 years old. He posits that ancient hunters kept watch over the valley from camps on the ridge, and scuttled down the pathway with bow and arrow and spears when they spied herds of potential prey.

Let’s go back. Way back. Some time after ice age glaciers retreated from the Farmington Valley, a band of nomadic hunters paused atop the great brow of rock we know as Metacomet Ridge. They looked west, over the Farmington valley, and saw a promising hunting ground, rich with the megafauna of the time, a treasury of animals now extinct. All they needed was a way to get down the sheer face of the ridge. There were only a few notches in that long ridge top, openings that made descending to the valley an easier trek. Eventually those hunters found a passage to their liking, and that footpath has led the way into Farmington for thousands of years, only recently- in the last 20 or 30 years- becoming too overgrown to allow easy passage. The first settlers of European descent followed that path on their way to Farmington, and later so did the weekly stagecoach from Hartford. by then, the path had a name. They called it Clatter Valley Road, for the noise the stage made as it rattled down the ridge.​ The road began near Talcott Notch, crossed what is now Metacomet Road and went downhill to connect with Cedar street (present-day Mountain Spring Road) and then continued south to link with what is now Route 4. Today, a portion of that time-worn road is preserved on a 14-acre parcel recently acquired by the Farmington Land Trust. It includes the gradual downhill part of the track, from just west of Metacomet down to Mountain Spring Rd. Thanks to the Land Trust, The old byway will not be as easily forgotten as some of the other spots near the old road, places with picturesque names such as Mile Swamp, Durty Hole, Stone Crusher, and the Devil’s Rocking Chair. 

Bobbie and Nick once explored the old road site and between her memories and his expertise, the two have assembled as accurate a picture of the site as may be possible. Bobbie grew up playing along the old roadway, and remembers efforts to keep it open and clear of fallen trees. The forest then was filled with huge trees and had very little understory. Back in the day, animals pastured up on the slopes below Metacomet Ridge, old stone walls suggest their borders. Her family often picnicked and had bonfires there; she says during her mother Hope Emery’s time, a pick-up truck could travel up Clatter Valley Road. One of Bobbie’s great aunts planted pine trees along the roadway, and today the crowns of those now tall trees can be seen form sa view vantage points along the ridge. They rise from woods rich with bear, foxes, deer, coyotes and more.

Over the past few decades, Bobbie says the wooly adelgid disease damaged the local hemlocks
badly enough to open the forest canopy, and invasive plants started moving in to colonize the forest floor. Parts of the parcel are now dense with brush and the decaying trunks of fallen trees, so thickly that it is now difficult to walk in some areas. Even so, she says retracing the exact course of Clatter Valley Road will take a little effort. 

Clatter Valley 2.jpg