A ledge of well foliated granite gneiss.

Squaw Rock and a nearby cave were mentioned briefly by Clay Perry in New England’s Buried Treasure. Information on the exact location of its caves’ and history of Squaw Rock was very limited. The most detailed record was found in Larned’s A Modern History of Windham County Connecticut, published in 1874. The book claims that Squaw Rock, “was a name supposed to have been given by early Indian Inhabitants.” It goes on to say that during the wars between tribes, the caves were used as a place to hide the “squaws and papooses.” Some local historians claim that it eventually became the location where the remnants of the tribe lived, until there was finally only a lone squaw for whom the cave was named.

The caves lie in a talus at the base of a nearly 75 foot high ledge that runs north for over 300 feet.  In the 1700s it was a popular picnic spot for families. The locals gave the caves names like ‘The Devil’s Kitchen”, “Old Ladies’ Arm Chair”,   and “Old Ladies’ Stove”. Other features of the talus were called “The Dancing Floor”, “Fiddler’s Stand” and “Pulpit Rock”. Larned speaks of a room with three passages. The first passage was from outside, the second lead to another chamber and a third “leads to an unknown distance.”  She goes on to say, “It has been explored until the light carried went out, indicating danger if the parties went further.”

Ms. Dreadful standing at the entrance to the caves.

The location of this unique landmark has now been completely reclaimed by the forest, and it appears that very few locals are aware of its existence. To access the valley in which the caves are located, we used the road to a now defunct quarry. Reaching the northern end of the property, we came to wall of unbeaten forest.  Keeping the western slope close to our left, we forged our way north. After about a quarter mile we came to the ledge erupting from the otherwise gradual slopes of the hillside. As we got closer, we could see it was made of a well lineated and locally foliated granite gneiss. Halfway along its base was a talus made from granite slabs, some being larger than a pickup truck. It appeared that in one single event, a large portion of the already well foliated ledge broke free, and like a stack of long boxes, toppled to the forest floor below.

Spying the talus, we quickly noticed a large diamond shaped opening that was about 12 feet high at its apex. We scurried over for a better look but were a bit disappointed. Though we were impressed by the towering ledge and the impressive talus, we were underwhelmed by how small the cave was. Though we didn’t take the descriptions we read too seriously, we expected better.

Photo taken from The Dancing Floor.

Photo taken from The Dancing Floor.

Then as we looked to the upper left, we saw a passage just above our heads. We didn’t expect much but were surprised to find that the cave continued. We soon realized it was just as described: a series of interconnected chambers.  The chambers and passages varied in height from six to eight feet tall. The furthest chamber we entered lead to a passage that, though it continued, became too narrow to navigate. Several of the chambers had other areas to climb to, which we left for later exploring.

As we climbed to the top of the talus, we saw what appeared to be coyote prints following the same path in the snow. The top of the talus was covered by a large, flat slab that we suspected was “The Dance Floor.”  Surrounding the slab we found several other caves that could be entered from above. Concerned that one might be the home of the coyote, we proceeded with caution. The longest of those we ventured into was approximately 40 feet long.

With limited time, we were not able to explore the entire ledge and all its crevices. Hopefully, infall we’ll be able to return to Squaw Rock and do a more detailed survey of the caves we’ve found and see what other treasures the lie hidden in the ledge and its talus.

See more photos Below.

~Editor

 

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