Indian cave is located in Salisbury.
To reach it from Route 44 one must turn south on a road
between the library and the Congregational Church and
cross the railroad tracks into the woods. In the "Gay
Nineties" Waterbury teenagers took buggy rides to
Indian Jack's Cave on the Mattatuck
trail between Wolcott and Bristol. Indian
Jack set up "cave-keeping" there in a rock shelter.
Next in legend are the Tories,
who left their imprint on Connecticut folklore because
of their lack of faith in a government separate from the
the Crown, and who found it necessary to "hole up"
when irate revolutionaries sought revenge. There are several
Tory caves in Connecticut, and Litchfield County having
had more than her share of these loyalists and the rocky
terrain to shelter them when pursued, leads the state
in caves of this kind. The "Tory Den,"
located among the Tondem ledges in the southwestern corner
of Burlington, is most notable. "The
Tories of Chippeny Hill" by E. LeRoy Pond tells of
the use of this unique shelter by certain Tories of the
nearby village of East Church. The surrounding
country was inhabited mainly by these loyalists, and descendants
of them still live there.
Tory Den was formed when a large slab
of rock fell from a perpendicular position onto other
rocks and became supported in such a way as to allow considerable
space beneath. One entrance, facing southeast, is ten
feet wide and five feet high. The interior is the same
width as the entrance and approximately six feet high,
with a roof opening in the center large enough to allow
one to pass up through. It could have been used as a chimney.
The northern entrance is four feet high and five feet
wide. Length over all is about 30 to 35 feet with a slight
turn at about the center of the cave. It is very suitable
for cave-keeping should anyone like to
revert to primitive life. To reach the place, turn easterly
from East Church Road just north of Bristol
reservoir on an old road. Follow this road for
quarter of a mile and turn north for another quarter mile
on a wood road where the Tunxis trail is
clearly marked with blue arrows. Ledges will appear on
the left and the trail leads directly to the den located
at the base of a high cliff.
in New Milford harbored more of these
loyalists but not in such comfortable quarters as provided
in East Church. The cavern is a "true"
cave. Two entrances are to be found there, each leading
to a different section of the cave. Except in extremely
dry seasons one is sure to get wet either from crawling
in the cave or in trying to enter it. The crystalline
limestone walls of the large water-carved room reflect
the light from one's lamp giving a silvery cast that is
pleasing to see. It is said the occupants had a
secret entrance near the Housatonic River,
and a tunnel extended beneath the present U. S. 7 which
separates the cave from the river. To see Tory
Cave at its best one should visit the cavern
in the summer. There will be no need for caving togs.
Nature seals up the entrance
with a massive curtain of ice and access to the interior
is not only uninviting but next to impossible. A perpetual
well-spring becomes a frozen Niagara and the interior
is a sloshing corridor of mountain water. The giant sink
hole entrance that is thirty feet in depth and diameter,
retains its winter garb until the month of May. The cave
is located about 200 feet from the westerly side of U.
S. 7 south of Gaylordsville. The green parking
area is near a culvert, accommodating three or four cars
and testifies to its popularity to spelunkers.
These two caves are the outstanding Tory hide-outs in
CAVES & LEGENDS
Prospectors once sought riches on Mine
Hill in Roxbury where silver ore was found, but
down near the eastern base of that same mountain is a
cave overlooking the Shepaug River in
which a band of counterfeiters worked their unlawful trade.
Neither business proved to be profitable, and money-making
in the Shepaug valley at Roxbury Station
turned to dairying with milk selling at four cents a quart.
Den, near Judd's Bridge, is
a wild and unfrequented section of Roxbury now that milk
trains no longer rattle over the abandoned Shepaug line.
Gamaliel's Den Gang on Moosehorn Brook, headed by Steve
Rance, had their underground rendezvous directly across
the Shepaug from the Pootatuck Indian shelter caves.
Cave, with an immense drive-in entrance, is large
enough to house a herd of cattle. A cave of this type
served the purpose well for Bill Stuart, the native
boy who went bad, in his traffic of horse thieving.
It was his custom to take his neighbors' horses before
the barn doors were locked, herd them into the cave, and
at night drive them over the state line into New York
where they were sold. On his return trip he rounded up
stolen New York horses and sold them to the neighbors
in Bridgewater who were surprisingly short of horses.
Bill Stuart believed in creating a demand for his merchandise
before he presented it for sale, and for a long time he
was kept busy supplying horses that gave him a handsome
income. Somewhere south of Bridgewater Center is the pasture-lot
shelter, also known as Bill Stuart's Cave,
where Bill hid his stock in trade to supply his needy
neighbors. Some of the residents still have horses. Connecticut
might have been called the "Leather Man State"
if the advent of this itinerant had preceded the purveyor
of wooden nutmegs. Today we have more evidence of this
remarkable character than samples of the synthetic spice.
Almost every town has its Leather Man's cave.
Actually they are rock shelters similar to those occupied
by Indians and were used by the Leather
Man for protection from the weather at night. He dressed
in leather patches, traveled a circuit of 365 miles every
34 days and obtained his food from kindly housewives.
His route covered much of western Connecticut and a part
of Westchester County in New York state. Woodbury
has not less than six of these so-called caves. The one
most widely known is near the Dug Way
on the property of Elbert and Frederick Barnes, within
a few hundred feet of U. S. 6, about one-and-a-half miles
north of North Woodbury. Across an upland
swale from the old feldspar quarry and facing the morning
sky, a snug overhang of rocks marks the former living
quarters of Connecticut's nineteenth-century cave
man. We know the location is authentic, as Mr.
Elbert Barnes made the long hike up the ravine to point
out the spot where he saw the improvised shelter as a
boy while it was being used by the Leather Man.
The most picturesque Leather Man Cave in Connecticut is
at Black Rock Park in Watertown. It is
well known to local residents, and thousands have seen
it in their hiking days. One large room with an immense
opening greets one long before the cave is reached from
the wood path leading from the gravel road. A small back
entry to the cave makes the arrangement pleasing to the
uninitiated caver. The location is at the base of a perpendicular
rock that towers above the 70-foot oaks and beeches, and
the smoked walls of the cave testify to its long use by
scouts and other campers. One mile to the southeast and
overlooking the Naugatuck River, near
Jericho Bridge is another cave once occupied
by the Leather Man. It is at the base of a precipice that
is topped with majestic hemlocks. The walls of Jericho
Rock have withstood the blasts of bugles from the Boy
Scout camp across the valley at Camp Mattatuck for a long
time but they are beginning to disintegrate noticeably
in places. The Leather Man came through unscathed and
died in Westchester County in 1889.
residents of Connecticut are unaware that our state has
the "champion" cave of New England.
It is situated in the heart of the limestone region in
Salisbury and is called Twin Lakes Cave. Actually
there are two caves close together and the larger one
has two entrances. This cave has not been completely mapped
and new passages are frequently being found but it is
now the longest and most popular New England cave. It
has a history that is unique for such a phenomenon so
remotely located. At one time it was a commercial cave,
and only two others in America opened for cave sight-seeing
before Twin Lakes Cave. Mammoth began operations in 1813,
and in 1865 Weyer's Cave in Virginia, now known as Grand
Caverns, opened for business. Twin Lakes Cave was opened
to the public in 1870, just two years after its discovery.
It is interesting to know what publicity was resorted
to in this new enterprise of cave showmanship in America.
Facing the yawning sinkhole (main entrance) was a dance
hall where lively quadrilles were executed to
the tune of a cracked fiddle. Another building housed
dressing apartments for ladies and gentlemen, a large
dining room and an office with a bar attached. The Connecticut
Western Railroad was under construction nearby to bring
people from distant towns.
Commercial caves in 1870 were a novelty,
and many of the conveniences enjoyed today in cave sightseeing
were unknown. Dignity was sacrificed. Entrance fee at
Twin Lakes was ten cents. This payment
entitled a man to an oil cloth suit and a sou'wester,
and a woman was given voluminous bloomers and a net for
her hair. Each person was given a piece
of adamantine candle, about three inches long placed uprightly
on the end of a horizontal pudding-stick-shaped piece
of wood, about a foot in length. On leaving the cave they
had all the marks of a modern spelunker who expects the
inevitable mud bath in cave crawling. The cave was operated
by Mr. John Odenbreit. The property was owned by a Mr.
Miles who, during a 'coon hunt, lost a dog and in the
search that followed, the cavern was discovered. The cave
reverted to a "wild" status when the venture
proved to be unprofitable.
The main entrance is at the bottom of
a thirty-foot crater, or sinkhole, and it is impressive
to stand beneath the hemlocks and gaze down into the funnel
that is about forty feet in diameter, and to realize that
here is one of nature's wonders - a cavern, with acreage
below ground. Here delicate artistry in stone is preserved
from weathering influences. The original crawl-way has
been enlarged to admit a person to walk in a stooped position
for some 75 feet and beyond that is adequate head room.
A drop or 'chimney" is encountered that takes one
down fifteen feet to the next level, and thence the winding
tunnel grades down to the main floor level several hundred
feet farther on. The first formation to become noticeable
is a four-foot column in the first large room. At
one time the cave was elaborately decorated but
vandals have been at work and now stalactites are found
mainly on the 50-foot ceilings or in the inaccessible
crevices. There is a waterfall, two natural bridges
and many rooms, alcoves, balconies...it is a
veritable wonderland, and hours can be spent there without
a perceptive passage of time. The "long crawl"
connects with the main cave near the column and leads
to another entrance through a wide but low ceilinged portion
of the cave.
A few years ago a "register"
was placed on a tree near the sinkhole entrance by the
National Speleological Society and over
a period of two months 140 people recorded their names.
Some came from Florida and Canada and
other from as far away as Switzerland. A boy in Baytown,
Texas, who registered there, wrote that he looked forward
to visiting his grandmother in Connecticut each Summer
because it gave him an opportunity to see Twin Lakes Cave.
Twin Lakes Cave has something that brings
people a long way to see.