ctnow.com/news/connecticut/litchfield/hc-marteka-plymouth-carriage-trail-0412-20130411,0,3335918.column

CTnow

Discovering Historic Plymouth

Peter Marteka

Nature's Path & Way To Go

10:26 PM EDT, April 11, 2013

Advertisement

The plan was a good one. I would drive out to Plymouth and hike a place called Peat Swamp Woods and explore the ruins of an old carriage factory.

Then I discovered Plymouth's historic Main Street, so I took a few detours into the past before heading into the woods.

My first stop after parking along the Plymouth Green was an old cemetery dating back to 1747 and filled with soldiers from the Revolutionary War, the French and Indian War and the War of 1812.

I love the history and melancholy of cemeteries from the 18th century, with their crumbling, lichen-covered stones with ornate carvings. Be on the lookout for a grave marked "lived to bury five husbands" — a sad reference to life expectancy back then.

According to the town's "Walking Tour of Plymouth Center" brochure, several of the buildings around the town green come with interesting histories, including the "Quiet House." George Washington slept there on his way to meet French Gen. Comte de Rochambeau. The house on Main Street was a former inn, where the keeper would not serve alcohol —hence it's nickname.

A Greek Revival-style building along nearby North Street was moved in the dead of night to a new location because the town was divided about whether to relocate it.

After taking my brief history tour, I made my way up North Street to the preserve entrance across from a beautiful 1780 Cape known as the Blakeslee House. After crossing a field, the trail leads to a picturesque swamp where spring peepers sing out to attract a mate. As I get closer, the sound stops as the peepers figure out I'm not a female frog. A loop trail takes visitors to the top of a stone cliff to "sunset rock" and its view across the swamp and forest. There are several benches for those who want to wait for a sunset.

The trail winds down to the ruins of the former Shelton Tuttle Carriage Shop, where Plymouth natives Augustus Shelton and Byron Tuttle made carriages that were shipped all over the country. The trail, built last year by Eagle Scout Zach Wegh, winds its way around the huge stone foundation of the old shop. Bricks, iron nails and broken bottles peer out of the dirt and leaves.

A trip to Plymouth would not be complete without a trip to a place called Horseshoe Falls along Canal Street in the Terryville section. A scenic dam and waterfall along the Pequabuck River can be viewed from the Tadeusz Wladyslaw Konopka bridge.

No idea who that is? His acting name was Ted Knight, a Terryville native famous for his role as Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Judge Smails on Caddyshack.

Every town should print its own walking guide highlighting its history and the stories that make each community unique. And including a map of a short hike doesn't hurt.

Brochures are available in multiple locations around the town green, visit http://www.plymouthct.us/pdf/walking%20guide12_0627.pdf for a printable brochure.

Peter Marteka may be reached at 860-647-5365, at pmarteka@courant.com or at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040.