NOBLE VIEW OUTDOOR CENTER635 South Quarter Road
Russell, Massachusetts 01071
THE PAST AT NOBLE VIEW: ARCHAEOLOGY
Noble View’s pristine forest landscape seems now
like unspoiled wilderness, but in fact the property was once a
prosperous farm, part of a thriving agricultural community. In many
places along the trails,
hikers can find evidence of Noble View’s past: a plow, a dish, a piece
of glass, a cellar hole, a stone wall.
Download a map of the sites described below.
A county road once extended from South Quarter Road (below the current Noble View gate) up to Noble View, then down Laurel Lane to County Road Trail, ending on General Knox Road. Along this road in the early 1800’s were a number of farms and homesteads.
The Gowdy cellar hole (No. 1 on the map) can be found near the bottom of the meadow that descends to the east from the Double Cottage, near where the Spring Trail enters the woods. The spring is about 60 yards south of the foundation and to the north of the Spring Trail. There has been much conjecture as to the whereabouts of the entrance road to this property, but there seems to be evidence that it may have crossed the Spring Trail and continued to the south and east, perhaps along a portion of what is now known as the Circuit Trail. The barn was at the top of the hill, just north of the Link Trail trailhead. (When Albert Noble purchased the southern half of the Gowdy property in 1825, these buildings were still standing.)
A second cellar hole (No. 2 on the map) can be found to the west of Laurel Lane, between the intersections of the Border Trail and County Road Trail with Laurel Lane. This is a large and ancient foundation. The barn foundations stand across the County Road Trail. The names of these buildings’ owners are unknown, although as this land belonged to the Ashley family before it was bought by Albert Noble, it is likely that the cellar hole was an Ashley homestead.
Farther south on Laurel Lane, and close to the Charcoal Kiln Trail intersection, there is another cellar hole to the north of Laurel Lane (No. 3 on the map). The Beers Hampden County Atlas of 1870 shows it as the Cotee property; later names associated with it are Pendleton and Snow. There are two wells to search for, one at the northeast corner of the house site, the other across the trail, where the barns once stood.
Returning to the County Road Trail, follow it east
until you reach a
brook crossing. Just before the brook, look to the north for
the traces of a laneway that runs off into the woods for a couple of
hundred feet to the foundations of another house (No. 4 on the map).
This old cellar hole does not appear on any of the county maps
published since the middle of the nineteenth century, so the owners’
names are unknown.
The last known cellar hole on County Road Trail is situated near the Sodom Brook crossing down in the valley (No. 5 on the map). It appears on Richard’s Standard Atlas of Hampden County, published in 1912, with house and barn on opposite sides of the road just before the brook crossing. Tradition calls it the Reuben Noble cellar hole, but no name is given on the Atlas.
Cellar holes are not the only points of historical interest to be found along Noble View’s trails. Along Laurel Lane Trail, watch for the remains of stone walls that once marked out the borders of fields and yards.
On Charcoal Kiln Trail are the remains of a brick beehive charcoal kiln, made with bricks manufactured by Walkley Brick Co. of Westfield, Mass (taken over in 1915 by Westfield Clay Products Co.). The Dam Brook Trail leads directly down to the kiln.
The 1912 Atlas indicated another kiln (possibly a lime kiln) in the vicinity of the Pendleton-Snow cellar hole (No. 3 on the map). Some strange circular formations exist in the hollow to the east of the barn foundations at this cellar hole, but since there are no signs of charcoal or lime burning, it is impossible to guess what they might be.
A gravestone with eroded markings is located on the east side of Noble View’s barn. This is the grave of William Blakeslee, one of Albert Noble’s grandsons.
Adapted from an account written by Laura Saunders, published in 1997 in the Berkshire Exchange.