Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Shepaug Headwaters

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  For nearly 35 years I have lived in the narrow valley carved by the waters of the Shepaug River and just a bit over a mile from the dam that holds back its headwaters, and yet until several years ago I had never seen the two artificial lakes that are close to the river's source or the two dams that were built there in the 1930s. The waters were dammed and diverted by Waterbury under coercive legislation passed by the Connecticut legislature in 1897 that gave Waterbury wide powers to draw water anywhere they chose.  They say it was a sign that Waterbury industrialists had seized control from the landed gentry in the fertile hills.  

The only active road into the area passes over the dam with signs clearly marked, "keep out," and a station beyond.  So firm is the warning, it has left me, so far, utterly intimidated.  However, I kept looking for other ways in via forgotten roads that once crossed the valley, and several years ago I had success.  Last week my friend suggested a visit might be productive now after recent rain. This picture of Shepaug headwaters was taken then.  

The trail leads back to a spot I have named eyelash falls for two small falls at the point the trail reaches a small stream. The stream bed is made of large rocks and boulders, and often there is no sign of water except the constant rushing beneath the rocks.  At a point where the boulders become too large to easily climb over the stream divides in a tiny delta, and arrives via several small waterfalls at the side of the Upper Shepaug Reservoir, sometimes called Cairns Reservoir.  It is a vast lake, and one could easily believe it was somewhere in the wilderness of Alaska. It was therefore a surprise later to come on two deflated rubber row boats in a spot where the woods had flooded, and then we saw two canoes neatly left, and we knew others had found, perhaps made, this trail.

Next goal - to reach the upper dam.