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Dividend Park, Rocky Hill
Some parks are filled with playscapes, playing fields or picnic pavilions. Dividend Park in Rocky Hill is not one of those places. It's more of an archaeological museum — a tribute to the town's storied industrial past.
The town park, designated a state archaeological preserve, is a showcase of how Dividend Brook once powered mills and foundries from 1677 to the 1900s. Ironically, the 68-acre preserve is adjacent to the town's current industrial park and was close to becoming the next phase of that development before residents demanded its preservation. While it's fun to visit the park on your own and imagine what each artifact might have been used for and what the foundations once held, a self-guided pamphlet is available at various locations across town.
Visitors can start their walk at the far eastern end of the preserve at what remains of the foundation of Gershom Bulkeley's Corne Mill built in 1677. The path follows the banks of what is known as lower pond and continues uphill. While climbing the hill, visitors can find a framed picture hanging from a tree of what the area once looked like. The highlight of the hollow is the 40-foot-high falls that take Dividend Brook cascading down from upper pond into lower pond and eventually into the nearby Connecticut River.
Take a side trail across the Bulkeley mill dam and walk down the northern side of the falls. A dirt path continues up to Tollgate Road and Pleasant Valley Road, where you can see the remnants of the Butler and Sugden Shear factory, where shears, a single-shot muzzle-loading pistol and other hardware were made. The mill burned down and was rebuilt and sold to Elisha Stevens, a toy manufacturer in Cromwell who produced miniature toys, cast iron banks and chandeliers. There are dams and sluiceways to explore, water-filled foundations to hop in and abandoned staircases to climb. There are also various rusted machines still lying around that visitors can touch and feel and wonder about.
The main entrance to the park is on Old Forge Road off Route 99 (Main Street) near the Cromwell line. The self-guided walk pamphlets are available at Dinosaur State Park, 400 West St.; the Cora J. Belden Library at 33 Church St.; and the Rocky Hill Historical Society at 785 Old Main St.
You can view Peter Marteka's videos online, along with his Nature's Path column, at www.courant.com/marteka. His column also appears in Friday's Hartford Courant. If you have a hike to suggest or comment on, e-mail Peter at email@example.com.
You can view Peter Marteka's videos online, along with his Nature's Path column, at www.courant.com/marteka. His column also appears in Friday's Hartford Courant.