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Nancy Conklin Trail and
Cowles Parcel

3.4 acres, donated in 1974 by Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield Cowles. Adopted by Judith King and Stephen Gryc. This is a short, flat hike - 0.6 miles round trip.

For centuries, Farmington people drove their cows down to the river and into the fields for pasturage - either bringing them back at evening for milking or keeping them in “summer quarters” for the season.  One could cross by bridge, or ford the river near the gristmill to reach Indian Neck; or cross the old stone bridge over the Pequabuck to reach fields south of the river. The bridge, a classical span dating from 1835, was considered for demolition but spared in the 1970’s when a new span was built.  Today, the ancient bridge, the river, and the lovely Cowles parcel just to the west form a small and charming environment just right for dog walking, bird watching or cross-country skiing.

The land was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sheffield Cowles. They purchased it from the Root family, who were evidently successors to colonial-era Cowleses. It adjoins land originally granted to Farmington’s first minister Roger Newton and later passed down through Hooker and Cowles families. The small home of one of Farmington’s early Italian [Lenolese] immigrants stands adjacent to the ancient bed of the Farmington Canal a few yards to the east.

The Pequabuck River wraps around the northern boundary beneath the ample Georgian mansion of playwright Winchell Smith. The setting thus reflects many aspects of our history: early settlement, immigration, industry, dairying, our literary past, and 365 years of farming. It was probably also a campsite of Compte de Rochambeau and his troops on their way through to or from Yorktown in 1781/82. The field will be kept open by twice-a-year cuttings, avoiding nesting times of resident birds. The parcel positively reeks of history – one has only to amble along the Conklin Nature Trail look around and breathe the air!

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