"We are in the middle of the village," he said. "But you wouldn't know it."
Turns out this one is the name of a settlement created by James Chaugham, a Native American Indian and his white wife, Molly Barber, in the late 1700s. Soon after they were married, the pair fled Molly's disapproving and angry father up the Farmington River until they reached a terrace in the shadow of Ragged Mountain. The couple had eight children, and soon a community — the Barkhamsted Lighthouse — grew in the woods settled by Native American Indians, Europeans and freed and escaped African American slaves.
The origin of the settlement's name most likely came from stagecoach drivers who traveled along a main road and spotted the smoke or lights coming from the community high on the terrace. Today, only remnants of the community — cellar holes, an old fieldstone cemetery, a quarry, charcoal kilns, and a large stone mortar where corn was ground — remain.
But this summer, Feder worked with crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and volunteers from the Barkhamsted Historical Society to install a half-dozen signs that tell the story of the village. Along with the historical background are photographs with ghostly figures and structures superimposed on them to help visitors imagine life in the village.
One of the neatest areas is an old cemetery where dozens of graves were marked by simple fieldstones that still rise up from the forest floor. Another interesting spot is a huge rock hollowed out by inhabitants after countless hours of grinding seeds and corn kernels with a stone. A blue/yellow dot-blazed trail takes visitors up the side of a sheer rock face to the top of what is known as "Chaugham Lookout" and its beautiful views of the surrounding area.
"After the area was abandoned, the trees have grown back up and all we are left with are things like the records, artifacts, cellar holes, broken chimneys and the quarry — and now we have the signs," said Feder, who has been researching the village for more than 20 years.
These signs in the present direct us back to our past — showcased in the deep forest right before our eyes.
On Sept. 10, the Barkhamsted Historical Society will hold an official unveiling of the signs at 1 p.m. Participants should gather at the society's headquarters at 100 E. River Road off routes 318/181. The Lighthouse loop trail is on the Jessie Gerard Trail several miles north of the headquarters.