Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stone Rows of South Watuppa Pond, East Shore

On the east shore of South Watuppa Pond is another possible Indian summer camp site, a  long stone row with a round enclosure. This site is dominated by  a huge boulder with a shape suggesting a turtle.
The other side of the boulder is completely flat, as if it had been split away. The horizontal streaks on the boulder are caused by algae and sediment drying to the boulder after being deposited at different pond levels. 

This site is enclosed by a 70 foot  long stone row of carefully stacked rocks.  Note that there are larger rocks on top of smaller ones, a feature not seen in the wharves constructed for camps and cottages. A large puddingstone is seen to the right in the photo below.

 On the shore are some more large stones in a loose  row that runs parallel to the shoreline. Some of these stones resemble manitous. This may have been the back wall of the camp site. This section of shoreline was once a beach for the local YMCA camp, and was not developed.
The area enclosed by this stone row is shallow, sandy, and free of large rocks.  Directly west of this row is a circular enclosure about 60 feet in diameter..
A brook enters at the space immediately to the left of the camper.  Although this could have been a garden, this enclosure differs from the ones on the west shore in that the rocks are much larger, and some have a jagged, pointed appearance.  Satellite imagery shows the layout of this site.
There appears to be a large boulder upstream on the brook, in the lower right part of the photo.  Before the pond level was raised, most of the stone row and  the round enclosure would have been out of the water. Here is a map of South Watuppa Pond, to which I have added the water levels.
The outer edge of the red area is 5 feet, and the inner edge is 10 feet.  The pond level is usually higher in winter and spring, and the water "goes out" during the summer and fall.  The Troy Dam was raised two feet to keep water running the  mills during the summer.  If the  pond level was raised at least two feet, the  original shoreline  was somewhere near the 5 foot mark.  The structures in this and the 6/13 post would have probably been out of the water, but still close to the water's edge.  There is a large shallow  area at the north end of the east shore, with some very interesting structures that  I will post later.
     Here is how the east shore site may have looked on a sunny summer afternoon a few hundred years ago.
Since I don't know the purpose of the enclosure, I have left the sand bare.  Upstream on the brook is a propped  boulder, and there are wigwams  to the left behind the stone row, and fields further on.
     Most of these photographs were taken in 2010 and 2011, and some were shown on Larry Harrop's blog.  Unfortunately, due to all the rain, the water is just not going out this summer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice at Miantonomi's Cave

This evening I returned to the site I dubbed "Miantonomi's Cave".   It is amazing how different the site looks after three months, with all the surrounding trees leafed out.
The foliage was blocking the sunset, but I watched  the light change in this structure anyway.
Undoubtedly, the landscape was quite different in Miantonomi's time, with trees cleared away for farming.  The hill on the other side of the lake has an interesting wall and propped boulder, so there may have been a village there, with no trees obscuring the sunset.  Also, this lake is dammed, so it would have been much lower.
The cave interior was dark by 8 PM.   However, light was visible on the surface of the wall directly behind the boulder on top of the structure until sunset.  At 8:13,  this  light was visible in the small cleft upward and to the right of the broom.  Of course, this light is more diffuse than direct sunlight due to the surrounding foliage. The cave entrance is to the right.  (The broom was handy for sweeping away leaf litter.)
7:37 PM.  I was hoping for something dramatic, like a sun dagger, but what I saw was simply a triangle of light formed by the slanting side of the boulder on top of the structure.
8:21, sunset.

     Here's the diagram I used  on March 28. The bearing of the flat slanted edge of the boulder(red) is 318 degrees, so the triangle of light extends furthest to the right on summer solstice. There seem to be some slanting lines on the surface of the wall that the triangle of light fills up.  This is more obvious at 7:37 and 7:49. There also seems to be a prominent vertical mark on the wall, to the left in the photos.  It will be interesting to see how this structure looks at equinox and winter solstice.
     The changing light did reveal three strange dimples on the cave wall, below the projecting stone, which is barely visible. This was taken at 7:58.  Whether natural feature, symbol, or incidental product of Indian stonework,  these were plainly visible and quite striking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stone Rows of South Watuppa Pond, West Shore

    South Watuppa Pond lies south of Fall River, MA, and is divided from North Watuppa Pond by the narrows and I-195.  It is drained by  the Quequechan river, which flows through Fall River and empties into the Taunton River at Battleship Cove.   An 1812 map shows the Quequechan flowing in a nearly straight  line  to the Troy dam  which was near present-day City Hall.  In 1826, the Troy dam was raised two feet to provide reliable water power to the Fall River mills.  The Quequechan flooded many properties, creating ponds and islands.  South Watuppa Pond also rose, covering walls and a causeway.
     In March 2010, heavy rains caused South Watuppa Pond to flood lakeside properties.  The water even crossed Martine Street and Brayton Avenue extension in Fall River.  The Fall River Water Department lowered the Quequechan river floodgate, and left the gate down all summer. The pond fell to a level not seen for years, and walls and structures that were once known only as boating hazards were seen in detail.
     Most of the South Watuppa shoreline  is covered with houses.  However, interesting stone rows remain at marshes and other undeveloped areas.  Here are photographs from my visits to these areas by kayak in 2010 and 2011. Some of these photographs appeared on Larry Harrop's blog two years ago.
 On the west shore is a large enclosure, about 500 feet wide. This is the large stone row on the north side of the enclosure. It is about 100 feet long.   The large white boulder to the right in the photograph  is standing on smaller stones.
To the left in the photo  is a large boulder leaning on another boulder. 

The boulders appear to have been carefully placed in this stone row, and not just pushed aside.  There are few boulders inside the enclosure, suggesting that the stone row was created by land clearing. I used to think this was an old wharf foundation, but  wharves have level tops, and when the pond was two feet lower, this structure would have been out of the water.
     The second wall is mostly submerged, and begins at a large puddingstone directly south of the stone row.
This view is looking north  from the curve in the wall, showing some of the stones above water in August 2010.  The puddingstone and north  wall are visible in the distance.  These stone rows appear on satellite imagery from Bing Maps.

The shoreline to the north of this site is marshland, and has a few low, curving stone rows.
These are in very shallow water, and would have been out of the water before 1826. These stone rows are very different from the wharves and ice house foundations built in the 19th century. 
Here are some wharves built at  old summer cottages and camps on the east shore. They consist of smaller rocks piled in shorter, wider rows.
     The west shore site may have been  an Indian summer campsite  used by  Pocasset Wampanoags. The boulders in the stone rows would have been placed there when the site was cleared.  The water at the end of the submerged wall is about 3 feet deep, so this wall may served to keep back pond water after heavy rains.  The low curving stone rows could have surrounded gardens.
     Here is how this site may have looked in summer. The wigwams are facing east.  Corn is growing in the garden to the right.
The Pocasset Wampanoags probably moved to a swamp in North Tiverton  for the winter.  Here is the site in winter, looking south from the large stone row.  I added in a couple of broken wigwam frames for a sense of scale.
So far this year, heavy rains have kept the pond level high.  There are other stone rows with interesting features I will show in later posts.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Delight Makers

The Delight Makers by Adolph Bandelier is a highly detailed novel set in the cave dwellings and pueblo ruins that now bear his name.  It is available free in several e-book formats from  I thought it would be stuffy and slow, but it was a real page-turner that I couldn't put down over Memorial Day weekend.
     The purpose of cairns is explained in the novel when Okoya realizes why his turkey hunt was unsuccessful.

     "Now I know why luck has failed me this morning!  When I left our houses I should have scattered meal, and placed a pebble on the heap beside the trail, and offered a plume to our Mother Above.  All this I neglected.  Now I am punished for it by the birds concealing themselves..."
     "Two little sticks, or twigs, placed crosswise and held to their place by a rock or stone, serve the same purpose in case of emergency.  Such accumulations of rocks, little stone-heaps, are plentiful around Indian villages; and they represent votive offerings, symbolizing as many prayers.  There were a number of them at the Rito around the big house, along the fields, and on the trails leading up to the mesa.  Okoya went to the nearest one and placed two twigs crosswise on it, poising them with a stone.  Then he scattered sacred meal, which he always carried with him in a small leather wallet, and thanked the Sanashtyaya, our mother, with an earnest ho-a-a, ho-a-a."
     Now that I have read this, I notice that this propped stone at Bandelier looks like an effigy of a turkey or other fat game bird, surrounded by little clusters of stones. Of course it isn't Okoya's site, but other Indians may have used the site more recently.

     The interior of  Shotaye's cave dwelling was  described in great detail.

     "In the fireplace wood was smouldering, and a faint smoke rising from this found egress through a crude chimney.  This was built over the hearth, with two vertical side slabs of pumice supporting a perforated square flag, over which a primitive flue, made of rubble cemented by mud, led to a circular opening in the front wall of the cave.  In a corner stood the frame for the grinding-slabs, or metates, and in it the three plates of lava on which the Indian crushes and pulverizes his maize were placed in the convenient slanting position.  Not only the prismatic crushing-pins, but freshly ground meal also, lay in the stone casings of the primitive mill, and on these the plates themselves.  Deer skins and cotton wraps were rolled in a bundle in another corner.  Others were hung on a line made of rawhide and stretched across one end of the room, fastened to wooden pins driven into the soft rock.  On the floor-to which a thick coating of mud, washed with blood and smoothed, gave a black, glossy appearance-there were beside, here a few stone axes with handles, there some black sooty pots, painted bowls, and finally the inevitable water-urn with wide body and narrow top, decorated in the usual style with geometrical and symbolical figures painted in red and black on whitish ground.  The walls of the cave were burnished with burnt gypsum; the ceiling was covered by a thick coat of soot; and a band of yellow ocher, like wainscoting, ran along the base of the sides."

Interior of large caveate
 Air hole
Pegs for rawhide line
Niche dug into the wall.
Here is how  Shotaye's cave may have looked hundreds of years ago.
 When I visited them, these caveates were out of the wind, warmed by the sun,  and seemed cozy.  Unfortunately, the rock crumbles, and many of the caveates are in ruins with only the back wall remaining. In The Delight Makers , this crumbling led to conflict between the clans for housing in the new pueblo building.