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2011 - Issue 2

Signs Of Spring

It's been a long winter in the Tankerhoosen Valley with record snowfall in January, but the recent warm weather is finally melting the snows and signs of fresh growth is appearing in the woodlands.

Another sure sign of spring are the announcements of planned hikes and events by organizations active in the Valley. We've listed the first few below and will continuously update our website Activities page with notices. Additionally, we post upcoming events on our Facebook Page. We hope this will encourage more people to get to know the area and more groups to plan events here.

We hike for many reasons - relaxation, enjoyment of the outdoors, exercise and all the health benefits that brings. Next weekend, March 26 and 27, the biennial Greater Vernon Holistic Healthfest will be held at Vernon Center Middle School. Since outdoor activities are such an important part of maintaining health Vernon's outdoor organizations will be part of the event with information on area activities and the organizations that provide them. This section of the fair is being organized by ANN LETENDRE. See below for more information.

In the short time we've been building the Tankerhoosen website we've come into contact with other people who love the area and are providing resources on the Internet that benefit all of us, adding to our understanding of the area both past and present. In this issue of the newsletter we bring to your attention the work of SCOTT LENT, who has gathered the history and photos of Vernon Depot, Dobsonville and the mills of that area. The newest section of his website is about the vanished village of Dobsonville. We also introduce JEFF BURKE who writes an online column about his hikes on area trails complete with photo slide shows.

As we build our website we'll often reference and link to their work. It's the intention of this website to bring together and create a network of the many people and organizations, thus making their efforts more accessible to a larger audience.

Jon Roe   

» Go to The Tankerhoosen website

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Recreation: Activities

Along with the official start of Spring - the Spring Equinox this week - comes the beginning of activities related to our Tankerhoosen Valley. The Northern Connecticut Land Trust (NCLT) and Vernon Parks & Recreation Department have posted their hikes through Summer and the Belding Wildlife Management Area (BWMA) has also posted upcoming events. In addition organizations supporting the Valley will be exhibiting at the Greater Vernon Holistic Healthfest later this month.

Sunday, March 20: The NCLT will host a Rail Trail Hike from Valley Falls to Talcottville. Several Land Trust properties abut the Rail Trail, including their latest acquisition the Talcott Ravine. The hike begins at Valley Falls at 9 a.m. Learn more.

Saturday & Sunday, March 26 & 27: The Greater Vernon Holistic Healthfest is a biennial fair held each day from 10-4 at the Vernon Center Middle School. It is a partnership between the Town of Vernon and the area holistic community. Although the emphasis is on natural health, area organizations supporting outdoor activities will also be exhibiting. Stop by and learn about the Friends of Valley Falls, Northern CT Land Trust, Open Space Task Force, Vernon Conservation Commission, Vernon Greenways Volunteers, Vernon Park & Recreation activities and, of course, Tankerhoosen.info. Learn more.

Wednesday, April 13: The Vernon Greenways Volunteers hold their Spring Kickoff meeting at 7 p.m. Their featured speaker is DON SIERAKOWSKI on 'The Rail Before The Trail.' Don is a retired high school principal and the spokesperson of an amalgam of six rail enthusiasts and local historians which includes SCOTT LENT. Don will provide a history of the rail system in Vernon including the importance of this area to the overall operation. He will, also, reveal some exciting plans for an outdoor museum expected to be launched here this spring. Learn more.

Saturday, April 16: The Vernon Parks & Recreation Department kicks off their outdoor activity season with a two hour moderately difficult four mile hike in the scenic hills around Valley Falls Park. Learn more.

Thursday & Friday, April 21 & 22: During Vernon's April school vacation the BWMA is offering two opportunities to learn about wildlife in the Tankerhoosen Valley. On Thursday at 10 a.m. learn about frogs, toads and salamanders. On Friday at 8 a.m. take an Earth Day bird walk. Both events held at Bread & Milk Road. Learn more.

» Go to Activities page.

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Feature: Remembering Dobsonville

Two villages grew up around the mills of the lower Tankerhoosen River. Talcottville has been preserved, protected, honored and is now on the National Historical Register. New street lights and signs celebrate its contributions and history.

But Dobsonville, which grew up around the dam and mills on Dobson Road, had a different fate. When the interstate highway came through the area it was sited to miss Vernon Center and Talcottville while paralleling the Tankerhoosen. This took it straight through Dobsonville. Most of the village vanished with the original highway and the rest was removed with the 1980 highway widening and addition of the new entrance on Dobson Road and flyover to Talcottville Road.

Today only the old timers remember Dobsonville, which included Vernon Depot and what is now the Southeast Cemetery at the corner of Route 83 and Dobson Road. Now thanks to the research of SCOTT LENT you can revisit the mill village and get a feel for life in the late 1900's. Scott collected old photos, interviewed former residents and dug through history books to create and share with you his brand new website.

Scott is also a railroad enthusiast and partnered in the creation of the Vernon Depot website and added the 'Mills On The Tankerhoosen' page. Go to Scott Lent's 'Dobsonville Connecticut.'

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History: Peter Dobson

Peter Dobson (1784-1878), for whom Dobsonville was named, in 1811 built the first cotton mill in Vernon with his partner Samuel Slater. It was located at Talcott Ravine on Dobson Road and around the mill were built the houses and community that thrived for over a hundred years.

Peter came to Vernon from England about 1809 where he was skilled in making machines. At the time, England did not want the new country making their own cloth so Peter had to hide himself and his plans inside a barrel to leave the country.

Once here he began work on the mill. Peter was a very good engineer and designing his own machines to copy and create fancy weaves and light weight cloth. Over the years the mills grew with many modifications, expansions and partnerships. Peter's son John Strong Dobson joined him in the work and continued it for a time when Peter retired.

Peter is also known for being the first to put forth and have published in 1825 the idea that the many stones and markings we find around the area were carried or created by glaciers. He drew this conclusion while digging foundations for the mills. It was published in England, although largely ignored as Peter wasn't considered a scientist. But he was obviously very intelligent, clever and curious. The kind of person that built the country in our early days.

For a full biography of Peter Dobson, Scott Lent has posted on his website an article on Peter from “Textile Industries of the United States”, written by William R. Bagnall, M.A., in 1893. Go to Peter Dobson biography

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Tank Tales: Vernon Depot And The Blizzard Of '88

After the January of 2011 and our record snows it might help us put things in perspective by looking back at the Blizzard of 1888. That nor'easter lasted for three days in mid March bringing up to 50 inches of snow and 60 mile per hour winds which created enormous drifts.

In those times local travel was by horse drawn vehicle and for a longer trip people took the train. Connecticut had a good network of rails and a line that ran from Boston to Hartford right through Vernon Depot and Dobsonville.

On the first day of the blizzard the train from Boston reached Vernon Depot, but could go no further. The 53 passengers were stranded here for three nights until Wednesday morning. So they did what many would do in 2011 - they partied!

» Read more about Vernon and the Blizzard of 1888.

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Trails: Jeff Burke's Column

JEFFREY BURKE lives in Vernon and loves to hike the area with his dog Chevy. But unlike most of us he writes about and photographs what he visits. The result is an online column with good information and photos on area trails including many in the Tankerhoosen Valley.

As we develop this site we'll link to Jeff's stories, photos and observations to provide additional perspectives on our trails. You can subscribe to his column on his website to get a notice whenever he adds an entry.

Following are links to a number of Jeff's stories about the Tankerhoosen Valley. Be sure to view the slideshow with each story.

» Go to Hartford Hiking Examiner

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News Items

Since the launch of the website and our first newsletter in January we have received some nice coverage in the area press. STEVE SMITH did a full page article in the Reminder News, PETER MARTEKA of the Hartford Courant quoted and referenced the site in his column on the Talcott Ravine, and the site has appeared as a resource in several Journal Inquirer articles.

On Valentine's Day, February 14, the Northern Connecticut Land Trust (NCLT) celebrated the acquisition of the 20 acre Talcott Ravine. The celebration was held in the Talcottville Congregational Church and included NCLT officers, state level elected officials and Rockville Bank.

It was a tough winter in Vernon with the record snow and ice. Most of the threatened or damaged buildings were north of the Tankerhoosen Valley, but the Rockville Fish and Game Club's clubhouse on Fish and Game Road sustained ice and water damage forcing it to close until repairs can be made.

Read more on these stories that affects or take place in the Tankerhoosen Valley in our News Section, often with links to the full story. These items also appear on our Facebook Page between issues of the Newsletter.

» Go to News Items
» Go to Facebook Page

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Our Facebook Page

Between newsletters you can stay current with news and updates on our Facebook Page. Recent postings include notice of upcoming events and hikes, articles about our website, and news relating to the area. Visit the Page to receive updates.

» Go The Tankerhoosen Facebook Page

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