Category Archives: tower

Heublein Tower (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: Talcott Mountain State Park, Route 185, Simsbury, CT

Cost: Free

Hours: The trail to the tower is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Hours for the museum in the tower are as follows:

Memorial Day Weekend through September 30th, the museum is open Thursday through Sunday only.
October 1 – October 31st the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Museum hours are 10 am to 5 pm. Pets, food, drink, and walking sticks are not allowed in the museum.

Parking:

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: Yes

Trail Size/Difficulty: 2.5 miles round trip/moderate with some sharp inclines.

Website: Friends Of Heublein Tower

Talcott Mountain State Park

Highlights: tower, scenic views,

Tips:

  • There is no parking lot at the park.  Parking is allowed on the side of the road at and near the trail to the tower
  • Don’t forget to check out the scenic views on the way up to the tower by taking the trail closest to the ledge (the trail on the right after the trail splits
  • The trail has a steep incline at the beginning but evens out and becomes easier about halfway to the tower
  • If using a GPS: Parking is located on Summit Ridge Dr. Simsbury, CT 06070

IMG_1752

Once the home of Gilbert Heublein (pronounced “High-Bline”), Heublein Tower offers some of the most pretty views in the Connecticut River Valley.

As legend has it, during a hike of Talcott Mountain with his fiance Louise M. Gundlach, he promised her that one day he would build her a castle there.  He would make good on his promise in 1914 with the Heublein Tower.

Heublein manufactured such delicacies as A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka.  Anyone else hungry for some steak and vodka? A barbecue, perhaps?

Heublein Tower is located along a trail that begins at Talcott Mountain State Park.  Parking is available along the sides of the road to the tower.

Along the trail to the tower, you can take the trail on the right to see some pretty views of the Farmington River Valley.  As you can also see by some of the photos, the trail does have some inclines.  There are also some benches along the trail at the beginning of the trail.

During certain days you can enter the tower and view the rooms in the tower.  The at times arduous hike is worth it for the views of the tower and the self guided tower of the inside of the tower.

The views from Heublein Tower are stunning.

The trails are not too hard for man nor beast.  Dogs of a variety of sizes and breeds were on the trail during my visit.

Hiro is a 7 month old Cobberdog

Monte is a 2 year old Tibetan Terrier.

Kaiser is a 2 year old Airedale.

IMG_1961

Roscoe (on the left) is a 3 year old Rottweiler.   Love his bandanna!

Onyx (on the right) is a 2 year old boxer.

 

 


Castle Craig (Hubbard Park, Meriden, CT)

 

Date Of Visit: August 12, 2017

Location: Hubbard Park, 843 W Main St, Meriden, CT

Hours: open daily to hikers 7 a.m. until 4:45 p.m.

Cost: Free

Parking: There are about a dozen parking spaces in the front of the Hubbard Park and ample parking in the back of the park.  There is also ample parking in the parking lot at the tower.

Highlights: 32 foot tower at Hubbard Park that offers views of the Hartford, CT skyline and Mount Tom in Massachusetts as well as the Meriden, CT area

Website: Castle Craig – Wikipedia

Tips:

  • The gate to drive up to the tower opens at 10 a.m.
  • You can hike up to the tower when the park opens at 7 a.m.
  • The trail to the tower is open to vehicles only from May 1 – Oct 31
  • If you decide to hike to the castle, parking in the back of Hubbard Park is a better spot to park than in front of the park because it is closer to the trail to the castle
  • When hiking or driving to the tower, you will encounter two forks in the road – take a left both times

IMG_8426

As if the wide trails, beautiful scenery, assortment of birds and Mirror Lake at Hubbard Park wasn’t wonderful enough, there’s one more jewel of the park that takes a little bit more effort to get to.  But, it’s worth the trek.

Located atop Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT, Castle Craig offers expansive views of the Hartford skyline, the Meriden, CT, area as well as views of Mount Tom in Massachusetts.  And, on a clear, day Long Island Sound is said to be visible.

The 32 foot tower stands on a 976 foot East Peak.  It also has the distinction of being the highest point 25 miles of the east coast from Maine to Florida, according to the plaque (although this claim has been challenged – in any event it’s pretty high up there!).  To be more precise, it would be fair to say East Peak is the highest peak closest to the Atlantic between Maine and Key West

You can either hike to the tower (the trail is open to hikers year round) or drive to the tower on Reservoir Rd (the road is open to vehicles from the beginning of May until the end of October).  We decided to drive to the top.  The road is a two way road.  So it can be narrow in some spots.  There are some nice spots to stop and look around but it’s hard to find spots wide enough to pull over.  I was able to take a photo of this body of water on the way up.

The origin of the name and design of the tower are in dispute.  Some claim it is named after a similar castle in Scotland called Craigellachie.  Others claim Hubbard was inspired by a Norman French Tower.  Still others argue that it is modeled after a 12th Century Turkish tower on the Danube.   As you can see it’s a hotly contested point of interest.

The paved trail to the tower is 3 miles each way, although there may be some nature trails you can seek out.  The trail difficulty is medium with a few steep inclines.  But, I did see people of all age groups and apparent fitness levels (I even saw one person with a knee brace and other people with other injuries) make their way up.  We would have hiked it if we had the time to do so.  So, pretty much anyone can make it to the tower.  Just be prepared if you do as it can be challenging in some areas.

The parking lot at the tower is pretty big (there is room for about 40-50 vehicles).  But, it seems most people choose to hike or even jog to the top.  In fact, we saw dozens of walkers on our drive to the top and only half a dozen cars in the lot at the tower.  Kudos to Connecticut for being such health nuts!

The tower and a rock with information about the tower are only a short walk from the lot.

Six flights of stairs takes you to the top of Craig Castle.

The views from Castle Craig are jaw dropping.

While I was walking to my car, I saw this grasshopper trying to blend into his or her surroundings.

Below is a video taken from the tower.

Today’s featured link is Hiking 101 who blogged about her Castle Craig Hike.

Hiking 101 posts about hikes in various locations in Connecticut and other areas as well as other mainly hiking related topics.

Please like me on Facebook to view photos, posts and other content not included in this blog.


Norumbega Tower (Weston, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 30, 2017

Location: Norumbega Rd, Weston, MA (about 20 minutes west of Boston, MA)

Hours: Accessible every day, 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: Parking is difficult.  There is no parking area and the road is pretty narrow.  So, pulling over isn’t recommended.  I found a parking lot around the corner from the tower on South St.  There is also a parking garage on South St.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: 38 foot tower built as a tribute to the Norse

IMG_4170

Once considered part of  a Norse Village, Weston, MA, has a very special tribute lying just across from the winding Charles River.  While the stone tribute still stands there to commemorate the suspected Norse village of Norumbega (a legendary Norse fort city), the name of the area is no longer.  Weston must have been easier to pronounce.  To preserve the Viking history of the area, the tower was built on that ground as a tribute to the Norse history.

Legend has it that Eben Norton Horsford, an American scientist best known for reformulating baking powder (thank goodness for that), was convinced Fort Norumbega.  Horsford was convinced Leif Erikson had discovered America and this drove his interest in Norse history.  He commissioned several works to commemorate the Norse explorer and the Norse people.

Erected in 1889 , Norumbega Tower is a hidden gem located just west of Boston, MA.  The tower stands 38 foot tower and is made of mortared field stones with a stone spiral staircase.

A locked gate prevented access to the he tower, which has a spiral staircase inside the structure.  I am not sure if it is open certain times of the year.  There is also a  bench near the tower and the path to the tower is paved.  It is amazing how, after all of our extreme weather and other elements, the structure still stands.  They just don’t make stone towers like this anymore.

The following is written in the  inscription on the tower:

A.D. 1000 A.D. 1889

NORUMBEGA

CITY·COUNTRY·FORT·RIVER

NORUMBEGA = NOR MBEGA

INDIAN UTTERANGE OF NORBEGA THE ANCIENT FORM

OF NORVEGA·NORWAY·TO WHICH THE

REGION OF VINLAND WAS SUBJECT

CITY

AT, AND NEAR WATERTOWN

WHERE REMAIN TO-DAY

DOCKS·WHARVES·WALLS·DAMS·BASINS·

COUNTRY

EXTENDING FROM RHODE ISLAND TO THE ST. LAWRENCE

FIRST SEEN BY BJARNI HERJULFSON 985 A.D.

LANDFALL OF LEIF ERIKSON ON CAPE COD 1000 A.D.

NORSE CANALS·DAMS·WALLS·PAVEMENTS·

FORTS·TERRACED PLACES OF ASSEMBLY REMAIN TO-DAY

FORT

AT BASE OF TOWER AND REGION ABOUT

WAS OCCUPIED BY THE BRETON FRENCH IN THE

15TH 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES

RIVER

THE CHARLES

DISCOVERED BY                    ··············

LEIF ERIKSON·1000 A.D.

EXPLORED BY                    ··············

THORWALD LEIF’S BROTHER·1003 A.D.

COLONIZED BY                    ··············

THORFINN KARLSEFNI·1007 A.D.

FIRST BISHOP                    ··············

ERIK GNUPSON·1121 A.D.

INDUSTRIES FOR 350 YEARS

MASUR·WOOD [BURRS]·FISH·FURS·AGRICULTURE·

LATEST NORSE SHIP RETURNED TO ICELAND IN 1347.


Children’s Chimes Tower (Stockbridge, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 15, 2016

Location: Village Green West Main Street at the itersection of Rt. 102 and Rt. 103, Village Green next to town hall, Stockbridge, MA (next to the First Congregational Church)

Hours: The tower chimes with music at 5:30 p.m. EST from May 1 until Sep. 1

Cost: Free

Parking:  There is limited parking available in a lot next to the tower

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: daily playing of children’s songs (from May 1 until Sep. 1)

dsc_0939

Built at the former site of the first church in Stockbridge, MA, which stood from 1739 until 1785, the Children’s Chimes Tower (also known as the Dudley Field Memorial Tower) has been ringing seasonally since 1787.

The tower used to ring everyday at 5:30 between the first apple blossom and the first frost on the pumpkins.  This has been changed to June 1 until September 1.  The frost seems to come sooner each year so it’s probably still pretty much the same dates as it used to be.

As luck would have it, the operators of the chimes and people who care for the tower were moving in a piece of furniture during our visit.  They agreed to give us have a tour.

Bruce is one of the chimes players.  He says he plays a variety of different tunes for the children.  “Three Blind Mice” is one of his favorites.

dsc_0913

The three story tower stands over 7 meters off the ground from the console  (roughly 23 feet).  But, it seemed taller.  The height of the highest bell is 20 meters (over 65 feet) bove ground.  The wooden portion at the top of the tower represents the Stick style of architecture. Clocks are mounted in the central gables on all four sides of the roof.  There are also 11 bells and the heaviest pitch is in E.

David Dudley Field, a wealthy New York lawyer and son of the prominent D.D. Field, gave it to the city of Stockbridge in memory of his grandchildren.  His one condition was the chimes were to be rung everyday at 5:30 p.m. between, “apple blossom time and the first frost on the pumpkin.”

The tower has gone through some minor changes through the years.  In 1973, the instrument was made larger with bells made by an unknown maker.  It also began with 10 bells but has since added another bell for the current 11 bells.  They have also added war memorials along the front and side of the towers, honoring those lost in war from the Stockbridge area. The names of the fallen are engraved on the memorials around the tower. Older photos of the tower show ivy growing on the sides.  But, it has basically remained the same.

I wonder if this is the original bench that was stationed next to the tower.

Even this bird likes the chimes tower.

dsc_0850

There’s something about seeing a tower like this and knowing they cater to a younger audience, playing nursery rhymes and other children’s themed music that brings out the kid in you, even in this hardened New Englander.

Below are some videos of the tower.


Scott Tower (Holyoke, MA)

Date Visited: July 30, 2016

Location: 8 Scott Tower Rd, Holyoke, MA, behind the Community Field Park at 51 Community Field Park, Holyoke, MA

Hours: Open everyday, no hours listed but it can be dangerous at night

Cost: Free

Parking: Roughly a couple of dozen parking spots are available at Community Field

Dog Friendly: Yes

Time To Allot For Visit: Between half and hour and an hour

Highlights: the tower, pretty views of West Springfield and the surrounding area, wildlife, plant life, easy mile hike

Lowlights: Graffiti all over the tower (all. over), a lot of broken bottles and other litter on the premises, some stairs to the top of the tower have holes in them or are missing, tower not accessible by car

Fun For One: Yes

DSC_0200

The walk to the tower is an easy mile walk with a few moderate inclines.  An easy way to locate the trail to Scott Tower is to look for the overpass.  Walk directly under the overpass and stay on the asphalt trail.  There are a lot of side trails and trees, plants, graffiti and remnants of what looks like used to be a waterfall or wall.  Now, the party days are way behind the Nomad but zig zags and 4:20?  Well, I guess things don’t change that much after all.  You crazy Holyoke kids.

Below is a side by side comparison of what the tower reportedly looked like in its heyday (July 16, 1972), a photo of what it looked like in May 31, 2004 and what it looks like now (July 30, 2016).  Yes, it’s pretty cringe worthy.

As a footnote, the tower was originally built in 1942.  Also, there used to be a fence around the tower which you can see at the bottom of the second photo taken in 2004.  The fence seemed to work as there is very little if any graffiti on the tower in the second photo.  Of course, the fence was torn down (presumably by visitors) and the graffiti and vandalism escalated.

There was also a lot of rustling in the brush from squirrels, chipmunks and other types of wildlife.  The vulture on the pole we saw on the way to the tower seemed like a bad harbinger.

Once the main attraction of Craft Hill at Anniversary Hill Park, Scott Tower is now a shell of what it once was.  Graffiti and litter cover the tower and it appears to be in disrepair.  In fact, you can see some remnants of what look like what used to be tables or shelters.  Even with all of the graffiti and litter, the tower is still impressive.

Not all of the graffiti was just messy chicken scratch.  Whenever I go to a landmark in MA, especially Western MA, there is bound to be some artistic renderings.  There wasn’t anything too artsy there but these images did catch my eye.

 

Scott Tower has two areas for observation.  There is an observation deck on the second floor and there is an enclosed area at the top of the tower.  The tower offers views of nearby Mount Tom and the Holyoke area.  The views are pretty sweet.  Just be careful if you  do go to the top.  Some of the stairs are missing or have holes in them.

It’s pretty far down from the second floor of the tower.

DSC_0083

The tricky thing about accessing Scott Tower is you have to park at Community Field Park (use the entrance off Cherry St).  The entrance is behind the park.  There is usually a gate up that you can easily navigate around.  You will have to pass under an overpass on your way to the tower.  It is about a mile walk to the tower.  You will see many side trails on your way to the tower but stay on the main trail for the easiest, most direct route.

While I was at Community Field Park before we began the walk to Scott Tower, we saw this beautiful dog.  Remy is a 4 year old Black and Tan Coonhound

DSC_0019DSC_0036DSC_0035

Below are some videos of a walking tour of the tower.  I really had to watch my step in the first video.  So, it’s mostly a video of the stairs and me wheezing.

I had to stop the second video so I could take some photos of the openings in the tower and the walls.

Just as an aside, I am regularly updating my categories at the top and bottom of my posts.  The “fun for one” category at the top simply means it can be fun to do by yourself.  Being a single person, I often take this into account before I decide to photograph or visit places.  I went with my mom this time so it was a lot of fun but it was something you could do by yourself or, better yet, with a dog!

Similar places in New England I have visited:

poets1

 

Poet’s Tower, Greenfield, MA

bancroft

Bancroft Tower, Worcester, MA

Similar places in New England I have not visited (yet):

scargo

Scargo Tower, Dennis (Cape Cod), MA

newport

Newport Tower, Newport, Rhode Island

 


Poet Seat’s Tower (Greenfield, MA)

Date Visited: May 13, 2016

Location:  Mountain Rd, Greenfield, MA

Parking: There are about half a dozen parking spots next to the tower and they fill up quickly.(and they were all filled at 8 o’clock on a Friday morning).  There is also parking at the gate of the entrance on Mountain Road for about another half a dozen vehicles.  The walk to the tower from the main entrance is about a mile.

Cost: Free

Hours: Open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset

DSC_0095

Perhaps it’s the unobstructed, sweeping views of the landscapes or maybe it’s the solitude of being in such an isolated tall structure.  Whatever the reason, poets seemed to flock to this observation tower.  It has since been known as the “poets seat tower” because of the long tradition of poets that have been attracted to the location.  Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, a local poet at the time, is credited with bestowing this name on the structure in 1850.  The tower, which was built in 1912, now attracts people of all walks of life, not just poets.   Prior to the construction of the sandstone tower, a wooden observation tower had been built on the edge of the lookout in 1879.  A plaque at the tower acknowledges Tuckerman’s role in the history of the tower.

DSC_0981

 

Even before you reach the top of the tower, if you dare, there are some impressive views of the Greenfield (MA), Connecticut, Deerfield (MA) and Green River valleys.  The ledge of the road where the tower is bult has a rocky ledge from where you can get some views of the Greenfield area below.  It’s a long way down!

The highest point of Greenfield, the tower is 4 floors (counting the ground floor and top floor).  The views from each floor are pretty stunning.  After all the rain in the area, the greens were very vivid.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I stood looking over the land below I couldn’t help but think of how the landscape has changed over the years.  Many years ago people looked over farmlands and valleys.  Now, we look over schools, houses, parks and businesses.  I also thought about all of the people who came here to rid their mind and soul of their worries by taking in the beautiful views.  It really can make you take a step back (and hopefully not forward) when you’re up so high and appreciating the nature around us.

The journey to the top is not difficult.  A trip up one stairwell and one spiral staircase take you to the top.

The arches and architecture of the tower rival the beauty of the views from the top of the tower.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And what would a historic structure be without graffiti?  As seems to be customary, particularly in Western Mass, there was graffiti on the walls of the sandstone structure.  It did seem fitting that poetry lined the walls of “Poet’s Seat Tower”

DSC_0075

“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down”

DSC_0011DSC_0009

DSC_0039DSC_0052

The are also benches along the road to the tower which offer views of the area.  There are also hiking trails that branch off from the road to the tower.  The trails look easy to moderate but I could not walk on them because of time constraints.  I did hear a lot of presumably animal activity in the woods.

Below is a video of the view from the top of Poet’s Seat Tower

Please stop by my Facebook page and like me!  New England Nomad On Facebook

 

 

 


Bancroft Tower (Worcester, MA)

Date Visited: March 19, 2016

Cost: Free

Location: Bancroft Tower Road, Salisbury Park,Worcester, MA

Open: Daily from sunrise until 6 p.m.

Bancroft Tower

 

DSC_0783

In 1900, Stephen Salisbury II built a tower on what is now known as Salisbury Park as a tribute to his friend, historian and jack of all trades, George Bancroft.   And to think, my friends only usually give me gift cards, wine and books for my birthday.

The park is has a wide variety of bird life.

As I was reviewing the photos, I couldn’t help feeling the tower was purposefully constructed to look as though it was  incomplete.  The sides are not rounded and seem almost as though they were cut off from the facade or the builder gave up half way through.  But, as the photos show it was indeed constructed this way by design.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My favorite view from the tower was at the arched entrance.

The 56 foot tower is made  of natural stone and granite.  It was designed by Stephen C. Earle and Clellann W. Fisher.

The plaque at the memorial states:

BANCROFT TOWER
THIS TOWER WAS BUILT IN 1900
TO HONOR THE MEMORY OF

GEORGE BANCROFT
1800-1891

BORN AT THE FOOT OF THIS HILL
HE ROSE TO THE POSTS OF
SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
FOUNDER OF THE U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND
U.S. MINISTER TO GREAT BRITAIN
AND GERMANY

THIS MEMORIAL WAS BUILT BY HIS
FRIEND AND ADMIRER
STEPHEN SALISBURY III

Jacks wasn’t impressed by the tower.

There were some views of the city from the parking lot.

During my visit and in my research after the shoot, I found out they let visitors inside the tower during October of each year.  The views at the top are said to give 360 degree views of the area.  The sorority and fraternity at the local college also holds a Halloween party for the kids in the area at the tower with mild scares.  So, it looks like a visit in October is on my list!

A walking tour of the Bancroft Tower:

Please stop by my Facebook page and like my page for extra photos, videos and other fun stuff!

New England Nomad’s Facebook Page