I went over to Whitingham the other day and found a most interesting glacial erratic off in the woods, called the Green Mountain Giant.
It was the idea of Jeff Pelton of Downer Hill Road in Weathersfield, former Springfield middle school teacher interested in glacial erratics in all places. We followed Route 9 west and at the south end of Harriman Reservoir, turned onto Route 100. According to the directions Jeff received from Whitingham’s Town Clerk’s office, we were to follow a logging road after the “third farmhouse beyond Pike Road.” A friend, Ann Comstock of Springfield joined us.
A log landing it was, and we donned orange vests, it being rifle deer hunting season in Vermont. With orders to take a right turn in the trail when we came to it, we did so, then, arriving at a puzzling “y”, tried both ways, and soon determined the left direction toward top of the rise would find our Green Mountain Giant. A large yellow arrow sign, probably used by four-wheelers or snowmobilers, points up hill toward the rock at that point.
Blue-grey and huge, this boulder can be seen through the trees on the right, perched on a flat rock outcropping. A closer look reveals a really “awesome” sight, to use this sometimes-overused term. We were dwarfed by its height. A quiet stream meanders down to the Deerfield River on the eastern side, and a rope hangs from above on the west, probably attached to the few small trees that have grown up on top, tempting the more agile to surmount it. We didn’t try, but many have, judging by the empty aluminum soda can perched at the top mossy eastern edge.
As described in Clark Jillson’s 1895 town history “Green Leaves from Whitingham, Vermont,” the “largest bowlder (sic) in New England, ... in the westerly part of the town upon a hill 500 feet above the Deerfield (River) and within two miles of that stream. It stands upon a flat rock, is 40 feet in length, its horizontal circumference 125 feet, its cubic contents 40,000 feet and its weight 3,400 tons.” That claim has long since been superseded by the Madison, NH, boulder which measures 87 feet long by 23 wide and 37 feet high, said to be one of the world’s largest.
On our way home, we meandered around the village of Whitingham, attracted by a couple of signs announcing Brigham Young’s birthplace, but failed to find the exact spot. On Town Hill road, at the “top of the world,” we found memorial markers to those who died in World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam and another commemorating the first church in town. The view from here was unobstructed for miles around.
The Deerfield River travels through the western part of this town making for much lowland, swampy areas, yet the town has its share of high lookout points.
Jillson’s history mentions another large boulder on Tenney Hill (1895) that “is nearly on a level with Wachuset,” Massachusetts. Professor Edward Hitchcock is said to have used this spot to erect a signal pole to aid in his survey of the area as Massachusetts state geologist in 1830. Here is impetus for another day’s exploration.
Traveling back toward home, along Route 9, we stopped at Hogback Mountain Gift Shop with viewing platform and binoculars for viewing the Holyoke Range in Massachusetts, Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, and Haystack Mountain.
It was a nice afternoon of exploring a tiny bit of Vermont’s many interesting natural attractions.
Rebecca W. Tucker