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Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545)

Garden of the Gods
1805 N 30th Street (at Gateway Rd) * Manitou / Colorado Springs, Colorado * 719.634.6666 * http://www.gardenofgods.com/ * http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545
Originally first published May 9, 2009 by Thomas Baurley

Garden of the Gods is a unique natural geological park that is located in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs … and is a Registered National Natural Landmark. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the summer and 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the winter. The park boasts over a million visitors a year or more.

History and Mythology

Where the Great Plains grasslands meet the low-lying pinon-juniper woodlands of the American Southwest at the base of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains a geological upheaval occurred along the Trans-Rocky Mountain Fault system creating these spectacular features over a million years ago. Horizontal ancient beds of sandstone, limestone, and conglomerates were pushed and tilted vertically when the tectonic plates pushed together. Glaciations, wind, and water erosion shaped the features over hundreds of thousands of years.

This geologic feature was seen as sacred grounds by the original inhabitants of the area, potentially visited and used for spirituality possibly over 3,000 years ago to present. As early as 1330 B.C.E. evidence of human occupation has been found from petroglyphs, fire rings, pottery, and stone tools have been left behind. The Ute Indians claim that their people always had lived where Garden of the Gods Park now stands and their people were created there and around Manitou.

The Kiowa, Apache, Shoshone, Pawnee, Cheyenne, and Arapaho also claim their peoples visited or lived here. It was known as a pivotal crossroads and meeting place for many indigenous peoples and nomadic tribes gathered together for peace. Rivaling tribes were said to even have laid down their weapons before entering the shadows of the sandstone features.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Two sets of petroglyphs were found here – the first hidden in a crevice on the east side of South Gateway Rock depicting a circular shield-like figure divided into four parts with a rain cloud terrace image, a Thunderbird image, zigzag lines, and image of wheat or corn and a faint flower-like image with a dozen dots forming a semi-circle over its top which some experts said was done recently in the last 100 years copying Indian designs from a book. The other petroglyph is pecking in the rock discovered in the 1980’s and estimated to date to 1500 C.E. most likely an Ute Indian design potentially depicting a deer, a third of a buffalo head, and maybe a stone tool seemingly telling a story.

Alleged Native American legends of the site have been told, their authenticity unknown. Marion E. Gridley wrote in “Indian Legends of American Scenes” telling a tale about a great flood that covered all the mountains nearby Pikes Peak. As the waters receded, the Great Spirit petrified the carcasses of all animals killed by the flood into sandstone rolling them down into this valley as evidence of the Great Flood.

The second was written by Ford C. Frick saying “… in the nestling ales and on the grassy plains which lie at the foot of the Great White Mountain that points the way to heaven lived the Chosen People. Here they dwelt in happiness together. And above them on the summit of the Mighty Peak where stand the Western Gates of Heaven, dwelt the Manitou. And that the Chosen might know of his love the Manitou did stamp uon the Peak the image of his face that all might see and worship him … but one day as the storm clouds played about the Peak, the image of the Manitou was hid .. and down from the North swept a barbaric tribe of giants, taller than the spruce which grew upon the mountain side and so great that in their stamping strides they shook the earth. And with the invading host came gruesome beasts – unknown and awful in their mightiness – monstrous beasts that would devour the earth and tread it down … and as the invading hosts came on the Chosen Ones fell to the earth at the first gentle slope of mountain and prayed to Manitou to aid it. Then came to pass a wondrous miracle, the clouds broke away and sunshine smote the Peak and from the very summit, looking down, appeared the face of Manitou himself. And stern he looked upon the advancing host, and as he looked the giants and beasts turned to stone within their very steps … “

If this site was in Australia or Europe, it would be named castles and fortresses associated with Gods, Deities, Spirits, or Faeries.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

Westerners first discovered the features in 1859 by two surveyors who were here to build Old Colorado City. M.S. Beach, one of the surveyors thought it would be a great location for a beer garden. The other surveyor replied to him stating “A Beer Garden? Why this is fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it Garden of the Gods”. General William Jackson Palmer who was known for his contributions of building Colorado Springs convinced his colleague Charles Elliot Perkins to buy the 240 acres embracing the features. In 1909 his children donated the land to the city of Colorado Springs.

The original family that donated the land to the public required that it would always remain free, and that is what it remains today. Garden of the Gods stands as a great park for hiking, walking, bicycling, rock climbing, picnicking, special events, and weddings … The park has it all … protected as 1,387 scenic acres … and presents itself as a unique tourist / information center, with a theater and gift shop near the entrance. Within are 15 miles of trails ranging in various levels of difficulty from beginner to advance for hiking and exercise.
A historical video greets you at the welcome center and tells the tale that began in the 1870’s when the railroads carved westward, when General William Jackson Palmer founded the city of Colorado Springs and upon discovering this natural beauty, urged his friend Charles Elliott Perkins, the head of Burlington Railroad, to make his home where the park now stands. He lived there until he finished his railway from Chicago to Colorado Springs. His railroad project wasn’t a success and never made its destination in the springs.
His homestead eventually became his summer home in 1879. He purchased 480 acres and never actualized building on it, leaving the land in its natural state and for the public. When he died in 1907, he made arrangements for the land to be a public park, and this was enacted by his children in 1909 forever as the Garden of the Gods “where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” That is exactly what they’ve done …. and its a beautiful place to be.

Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.
Garden of the Gods (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=545); Explorations around Manitou Springs, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 18, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Manitou Springs: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613; Colorado: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=22613.

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Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon

Mosier Twin Tunnels ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25083); Historic Columbia River Highway ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25089); Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by   Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409
Mosier Twin Tunnels ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25083); Historic Columbia River Highway

Historic Columbia River Highway
Columbia River, State of Oregon, USA

The Historic Columbia River Highway runs along the Columbia River on the Oregon side for approximately 75 miles. It is considered one of the most scenic highways in Oregon and was the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. It begins in Troutdale and ends in The Dalles as a important safe passage being built between 1913 and 1922. Points of interest are the Bridge of the Gods and Cascade Locks. Another area of special interest is where the historic highway runs through Mosier and its preserved tunnels highlighting scenic tour days. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Landmark and is designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was replaced for logistics, speed, safety, and accessibility with the construction of the Interstate Highway 84 during the 1930’s and 1950’s, falling to be a placade of history maintained by the state of Oregon as Historic Columbia River Highway No. 100 or Route 30 as well as the “Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.” Is was modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe and the project initiated by Sam Hill (local lawyer and entrepreneur) with the assistance of engineer Samuel C. Lancaster. It was envisioned first as a tourist play route for road trips in the Model T absorbing the beauty of the Columbia River and its waterfalls. It blended in as Highway Route 30 when the U.S. Highway system was established in 1926. It was an essential route taking advantage of the lowest crossing of the Cascade Mountains that was carved by the Columbia River during the Cascades mountain uplift providing a safe and economic alternative to the previous dangerous rafting portages used by the Oregon Trail. Originally at this crossing was the Barlow Road in 1846 around the south side of Mount Hood, followed by the Sandy wagon road in the 1870s, and the railway. It was a very difficult highway to create dealing with numerous curves, grades, distance, rockfalls, avalanches, and drops. All the locations with elements of natural beauty and scenic wonder were set as control points along the route to be included.

Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by   Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409
Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409

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State of Oregon

Oregon, United States of America
www.oregon.gov

Oregon is also known as the “Beaver State”. The earliest known use of the name “Oregon” was spelled as “Ouragon” by Major Robert Rogers in his 1765 petition to the Kingdom of Great Britain referring to the Columbia River which was seen as the mythical River of the West. It was in 1778 that the current spelling became “Oregon”. Oregon’s capital is Salem and its largest city is Portland. It has a population of approximately 3,831,074 (2010 Census). Its highest point is “Mount Hood” at 11,249 feet above sea level and its lowest point is sea level on the Pacific Ocean. Located at the southern end of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on its West, State of Washington to its North, California to its south, and Nevada and Idaho on the East. The main waterways/rivers through the state are the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Oregon had an aboriginal inhabitation for almost 15,000 years, with European settlers arriving as traders, explorers, and settlers by 1843 when it was called “The Oregon Territory”. The first Europeans to come to Oregon were the Spanish in the late 17th Century. The British Captain James Cook explored the coast in 1778 while searching for the Northwest Passage. This was also a Quest of the Lewis and Clark Expedition who built their winter fort at Fort Clatsop on the mouth of the Columbia River. By the 16th century, Oregon was home to various tribes including the Bannock, Chasta, Chinook, Molalla, Nez Perce, Klamath, Kalapuya, Takelma, and the Umpqua. Oregon became the USA’s 33rd state being added to the Union on February 14, 1859. By 1811 the Northwest Company, captained by David Thompson, was the first to navigate the entire length of the Columbia River. Oregon’s Willamette River valley is its most densely populated area and home to 8 of the 10 most populated Oregon cities. Continue reading State of Oregon

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Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes
* http://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm *

One of my favorite parts of Colorado is its great diversity in the ranges of the Rocky Mountains. One of those hotspots of “oddity” is the vast Sahara-like desert of sand dunes in the San Luis Valley. Of course California, New Mexico, and Arizona has tons of sand dunes – but Colorado’s is very unique, especially at the foot of snow-covered mountain peaks and being the tallest dunes in the United States. This geologic feature extends 5 x 7 miles with a grand height of 700 feet above the valley floor (over 7,600 feet above sea level). As early as 440,000 years ago, the dunes were formed from the Rio Grande River’s and associated tributaries flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over a period of several thousand years, and continually growing today, the westerly winds blow the sand over the Rockies and down along the river flood plain, collecting sand, and depositing them on the east edge of the San Luis Valley before the winds rise up and over the Sangre de Cristo mountain range shaping these huge stable dunes. There are also some parts of the dunes where patches of black sand can be found made up of magnetite deposits as crystalline iron black oxide. Medano Creek winds through the dunes as it is fed by melting snow from the mountains. It extends roughly 10 miles, flowing from spring and early summer from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and disappears into the floor of the valley. An unusual feature of the creek is that it never finds a permanent and stable streambed causing small underwater sand dunes that act like dams are continuously formed and destroyed, causing what seems like “surges” with “waves of water” flowing downstream with intervals of a few seconds to a few minutes, and can appear as large as a foot in height with an appearance of an “ocean wave”. The geological area is known as a “High Desert” with summer temperatures not typical of normal high desert lands, varying from high and low temperatures of exceedly cold nights (even below zero). There are also alpine lakes and tundra in the park, with six peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation, ancient spruces, pine forests, aspens, cottonwoods, grasslands, and wetlands. The park is also notated as being the quietest park in the United States. The park, is managed by the National Park Service, and has been a place of enjoyment under their reigns since November 2000 with over 85,000 acres. In 2004 it became known as the “Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve”. It can be reached west from Mosca along country road 6 North, or from the south along CO road 150. The park hosts a great visitor center, a campground, four wheel drive trails, restrooms, and picnic areas. The park is great for hiking, wading, sand castles, sandbox play, sunbathing, sand sledding, rough play, skimboarding, photoshoots, and ATV sports. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 7/12/2008. 2/16/2017. Review by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Leafworks and Technogypsie Research/Review Services.

Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Tobar Eoin g: St. John’s Well, Carrigaline – County Cork, Ireland

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

Tobar Eoin g: St. John’s Well (Formerly St. Renogue’s Well)
Carrigaline, Co. Cork, Ireland
Official article: http://www.naiads.org/well/?p=377, archive article: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14325
Written by Thomas Baurley, Archaeologist – Technogypsie Research (c) 2013; http://www.technogypsie.com

Nestled into the woods between housing estates is a beehive shaped rock cairn covering a historical holy well that today is known as “St. John’s Well” or “Toberabbog”. Since Cork County has a few “St. John’s” Wells, it should be annotated as “St. John’s Well Carrigaline”. It is also called “Tobar Eoin g” or “St. Renogue’s” Well, an earlier dedication before St. John took over the well’s magic. The 1840 Ordinance Survey Map records the map as Saint Rinoge’s or Renogue’s Well. It is located to the northwest of Carrigaline, along a residential road and two-track between Ballinrea Road and Ballea Road (R613) and is surrounded by the Dun Eoin residential estates. Even though the well is watched over by parishioners and the local parish, many kids and trouble-makers vandalize and hang out at the site doing controversial activities.

The well is encased and protected by a bee-hive shaped stone structure that resembles a cairn with a small hole from which the water flows. Atop the cairn is a cross in disrepair with scratch etchings of crosses by pilgrims inscribed on the exterior walls. This mineral spring is for the healing of eyes and debilities. Next to the well is a large tree that is surrounded by a low circular wall upon which is a stone plaque that tells a short history of the site. Around the site are a number of benches and steps made of railroad ties. Opposite the well is a small stone altar upon which the name of the well is carved. According to local legend, the well was discovered by a blind man who upon visiting the well, had his sight restored. He was so ecstatic about this miracle, he built the corbelled stone beehive over the well to protect and honor it.

Christian/Catholic observations today at the well are celebrated here on St. John’s Eve which falls on the 23rd of June every year. This is the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. While earlier and older Pagan rites may have been held here celebrating the Summer solstice in similar practices, this well does not appear to be revered by Pagans much anymore. The Christian celebrations have been in practice since the early 19th century C.E. (common era) and consists of a gathering at the well that number in the hundreds of locals coming together to conduct prayers, hymns, and rites at this particular site. St. John’s Eve is derived of both Pagan and Celtic customs mixed with Catholic devotionals to the saints. Originally began by lighting a bonfire with attendees going to sites where Saint John is venerated. In modern day practice, the devotions at this well is organized by a small group of parishioners and Catholic parish clergy. The priest brings in the rosary and circles the well while someone scratch inscribes the cross on the stones of the beehive cairn with each mark representing a decade of the rosary. While the focus is on the clergy, a number of people individually circle the well as well and mark the crosses while praying. The Eucharist is then displayed and venerated during which the Parish choir and the Carrigaline Pipe Band accompany with music. A formal service is performed after which participants go to the well to drink of the waters, bless themselves, and collect some water to take with them for healing activities at home for themselves and loved ones. Some gather water from the flow out of the well while others will crawl on their hands and knees going into the well to get their water. To many, it is very essential to collect the water and touch it at is exact point of its source where it is the purest. To embrace the magic of the waters, it is custom for the pilgrims to say a decade of the rosary at each of the inscribed crosses found in the walls of the well stones for the miracles to be delivered.

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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St. John’s Well, County Cork, Ireland

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Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Wells: St. Abban’s Well and St. Gobnait’s Well

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Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Wells
* Tobar Ghobnatan * Ballyvourney (a.k.a. Baile Bhuirne), County Cork, Ireland *

1ST WELL: ST. ABBAN’S WELL OR ST. GOBNAIT’S WELL

As you drive up to the Tobar Ghobnatan Statue, Well, Hut, Grave, Church ruins and yard, you will see on your right a wrought iron archway with the letters spelling “HOLY WELL” along its top. Another sign labels it as the “Tobar Ghobnatan Holy Well”. When I walked through this archway, I immediately spied a 3/4 large ring of mushrooms known as a Fairy Ring. I had to walk around it 9 times to see if a gateway to the land of Fae would appear. Magical as the site was, alas, no gateway appeared that I was aware of. A short walk down the path you will find the well at the base of a wishing tree. The tree is covered with rags or clouties as well as many other trinkets placed there or tied to the branches as offerings and prayers. These are often cleaned up and removed by the church occasionally some say online. The well has steps down into it, but can often be difficult to access without crawling on your knees to get at the magical waters. There are two taps nearby where one can retrieve the water. This well is believed to be a lot older than the Christian occupation and creation of this monastic site, probably as a Fairy Well or Pagan Shrine. Today visitors claim it is either St. Abban’s Well and/or St. Gobnait’s Well. From the Cult followings, I would think it has more to do with St. Gobnait than St. Abban even though technically I’ve read it is primarily called St. Abban’s Well. The Other well is up the hill by St. Gobnait’s Hut and Statue. It’s unclear which Saint claimed which Pagan well when they took the land.

In Neo-Pagan practice and visitations of the site, the well is circled either three times clockwise, or in a trio set of three times three. It is conducted clockwise to gain something, pay tribute to the well, or to weave a certain kind of magic. It is done counter-clockwise to unwind something, to banish something, or to undo a spell, curse, or action. It is common then to make an offering to the well or tree. The participant then goes to the well, collects water, offers it back to the earth, then either takes a sip of the magical waters or splashes it on their face. It is common to fill a bottle with the magic waters to take home. A bin of empty clean water bottles is located along one of the rock walls for those who forgot to bring a bottle. This well is very common location for seamen to collect water from to bring to their boats used for safe passage during their expeditions. In Christian/Catholic observation of the rounds, the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary”, and the Glorias are spoken at each of the stations. At this station, they do a decade of the rosary and drink the water from the Well. According to the stations, the rounds, or the turas, this is station 10: St. Abban’s Well. Every year on the 11th of February, the parish priest would bring out a 13th century wooden statue of St. Gobnait upon which pilgrims would measure a ribbon against the statue and wrap it around the figure, then take the ribbon home to use for healing magic.

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Next to the well is a large tree called a Wishing Tree which is part of any number of such trees found on this monastic site. Covering this particular tree are offerings to St. Gobniat (and the ancestral water spirits or Naiads of this well) in the form of rags (clouties/clooties – pieces of cloth tied around its branches), prayers, trinkets, tokens, pictures, charms, and/or a variety of personal effects from under garments, hair ties, belts, shoes, rings, jewelry, toys, prayer cards, or other effects. The belief behind pieces of cloth are that they are to get rid of an illness and once the cloth decays so will the illness. It is a concept of leaving something behind of themselves or their loved ones in need of healing.

Along the stone wall and around the well is an assortment of cups, jars, and/or bottles that someone can use to gather water from the well for drinking and/or blessing. As far as I know, the well water is not tested or certified, so drinking from such is at one’s own risk. Anything can get into these public wells and a variety of items from coins, pins, and garbage are sometime found thrown into them. When I visited there was a large bin of washed out plastic bottles for visitors to fill up with holy well water and take with them.

SECOND WELL: ST. GOBNAIT’S WELL (or ST. ABBAN’S WELL)

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Again, like the well above, no one is clear on who claimed this Fairy Well, but it seems to be primarily associated with Saint Gobnait since it is located in front of her house, hut, or kitchen. Both wells are part of the pilgrimage and rounds regardless. In Christian/Catholic observation of the rounds, the “Our Father”, the “Hail Mary”, and the Glorias are spoken at each of the stations. At this station, they do a decade of the rosary and drink the water from the Well.
To complete the pilgrimage the pilgrim walks down the road to St Gobnaits well (Station 10). The pilgrim recites 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys and 7 Gloria, one decade of the rosary and drinks the water from the well. Like many holy wells in Ireland St Gobnaits well is associate with a rag tree and there is a tradition of leaving votive offerings at this tree. Below is a photo of the tree taken when I last visited here in 2006, as you can see is covered rags and bead and tokens left be pilgrims. I think it looks quiet lovely. Since my last visit most of these offering have been removed but a few are still to be found. This well seems a bit questionable as to the safety of the water, but is still one apparently drunken from. This well in in front of the round circular stone hut north of the statue called the “House of St. Gobnait” or the “St. Ghobnatan’s Kitchen”. Earlier evidence suggests that the site was an early pre-Medieval to Medieval bronze and iron working site which operated out of this hut. Evidence for this comes from iron slag, a crucible, and other metal working artifacts found during the excavation of the site. With evidence that the wells were Pagan shrines pre-dating Christianity combined with the metalworking has led some rumors to run wild that it could be the metal working site of the Tuatha D Danann’s Smith known as Goibnui who share phonetic similarities to the name of Saint Gobnait. There is no evidence found to this ‘hunch’ someone probably weaved online in a blog, but it does add a sense of urban lore to the site that would make it an exciting tidbit of mythos. (Especially since there really exists no solid evidence of any of the Tuatha D Danann legend site locations except folklore) In this hut, pilgrims etch a cross into the stones atop this well as well as the entrance stones in the hut during their turas.

BOTH WELLS:

Both of the wells are named after the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan (a.k.a. Saint Gobnait) of the holy pilgrimage site and monastic settlement known as “Tobar Ghobnatan“. This is the legendary home of St. Gobnait/Ghobnatan. It is located a kilometer south of the village of Ballyvourney where her church Min Mr (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built. There are two holy wells at this site, both of which are believed to pre-date St. Abban and Gobnait’s arrival to the land, most likely Pagan shrines or Fairy wells. Today these wells are called “St. Abban’s Well” (most likely ‘FIRST WELL’) and “St. Gobnait’s Well” (most likely ‘SECOND WELL’).

There are several wells throughout Ireland (and other countries) dedicated to Saint Gobnait. There exists a dry well known as St. Debora, Deriola, or Abigails Well that is north of Ballyagran in a high field on the left of the road to Castletown which is believed to be the original Saint Gobnait’s Well. It is currently dry. Legends run wild of a white stag that can be seen at this well especially during February 11th, the Feast day of Saint Gobnait. There are other wells and shrines such as the church site in County Kerry at Dunquin that has a well near Dungarvan in Waterford.

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Article by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions and Research Services: Technogypsie.com. © 2013: All rights reserved.

Article on the Church, Shrine, Graveyard, and Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14339. Article on the Holy Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=7591. Article on the Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees, Saint Ghobnatan, and Tobar Ghobnatan cross etchings.

How to get here: Drive West from Macroom to Kerry on the N22. As you pass through Ballymakerry (Baile Mhic Ire), you will pass a church on your right-hand side and will take the first left hand turn after the church that has a sign post. Follow the road 400 meters and you will see the first (and main) holy well on the right. You’ll need to go up the hill a bit for parking as it is a very narrow road. Take the next right hand road (near where you can park by a graveyard) up the hill to see the other holy well, statue, hut, church ruins, and main graveyard. There is also a modernized porta-toilet in this parking lot so you don’t have to use the bushes. The GPS coordinates are: 79: W 1967 7688. Longitude: 9 10′ 5″ W, Latitude: 51 56′ 18″ N.

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Tobar Ghobnatan (St. Gobnait’s House, Church, Cemetery, Statue, & Well)

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Tobar Ghobnatan
* Ballyvourney (a.k.a. Baile Bhuirne), County Cork, Ireland *

Named after the Matron Saint of Ballyvourney and sacred Bee-Keeping mistress, Saint Ghobnatan, this site is a holy pilgrimage location and monastic settlement known as “Tobar Ghobnatan”. This is the legendary home of St. Gobnait/Ghobnatan. It is located a kilometer south of the village of Ballyvourney where St. Ghobnatan’s church Min Mr (a.k.a. Bairnech) was built. The site is believed to have been a pre-Christian Pagan site used to smelt bronze and iron. There are also two holy wells at this site, both of which are believed to pre-date St. Abban and Gobnait’s arrival to the land, most likely Pagan shrines or Fairy wells. Today these wells are called “St. Gobnait’s Well” and “St. Abban’s Well”. This Christian site was believed to have been founded first by St. Abban who founded a convent here and giving it to Saint Gobnait. It is however, primarily attributed to St. Gobnait, and both wells seem to carry her name and reputation, even though there is controversy as to which well belongs to which Saint.

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The Statue of St. Gobnait

St. Gobnait’s cult and laity, as well as the Catholic population of the area, often come to the site for recreation, hiking, prayers, petitions, and doing the rounds or turas. However, every February 11th, the date that St. Gobnait was believed to pass away (year unknown), has become her official “Feast Day” which calls for tribute and celebrations for her. Pilgrims to the site do these rounds on the feast day by coming to the statue (station 1) and processing in a clockwise direction around the site scratching crosses on the stones of each station as they do their rounds. Just to the left of the statue the pilgrims begin reciting three sets of prayers seven times each at each station making a very long day to the rite and ritual involved. These are seven “Our Father” prayers, seven “Hail Mary’s” prayers, and seven “Glories of Christ”. The statue was erected in 1950 C.E. The turas however are believed to be done in the general vicinity of the statue for at least since the 17th century. No date is certain when the pilgrimage and practice began.

St. Gobnait’s Kitchen or House
Next to the statue is a round stone circular hut that is believed to have been either the kitchen or house of St. Gobnait. During construction of the statue and excavation of the site, post holes were found suggesting that the site was used for production of various crafts. From the 1800’s until 1950’s the hut and site was in complete ruin. The hut and site was restored after the site was excavated in 1950 by M.J. O’Kelly who rebuilt it to its current state. The excavations suggested that the site was used for metal craft working up to the early medieval period based on large amounts of iron smelting slag, a crucible, and other metal working artifacts found on the site. There are also Bullaun Stones found on the site. These were believed to have been used to grind metal ores in. It is believed the hut was a later addition and that the site’s original first use was for bronze or iron working. The circular hut, which has been restored, has an internal diameter of 6 meters. It was believed to have been used by iron and bronze smelters. It is also around this time that the well in front of the hut was believed to have been dug (called St. Gobnait’s Well). The House or Kitchen was deemed the second station of the turas. Here is the best example of the crude crosses scratched into the stones and markers during the turas on the site. This is done on the portal stones when they enter the hut, and on some of the stones atop the wall. Since this hut has evidence of an earlier site for smelting iron and bronze, folklore ties it to an earlier being or Deity … that of Goibnui, the Smith of the Tuatha D Danann that might be whom St. Gobnait replaced. One of the holy wells stands before the entrance to the hut. This one is definitely listed as St. Gobnait’s Well. The main well, found on the right hand side of the road down the hill before one comes up to the right side of the road as one drives up to the site. This main well is also called St. Gobnait’s Holy Well, of which both were revered as a site of healing waters and magic from their early beginnings to this very date.

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The Graveyard / Church yard
The cemetery is a fabulous find just in of itself. Some of the grave markers are fantastically carved and decorated. Celtic crosses dot the landscape. There is a large sculpture of a woman believed to be a Goddess standing on an egg with a snake curled around her feet that is interpreted by some modern day Pagans as being a sculpture of the White Goddess. There is no documentation to authenticate this however. St. Gobnait’s purported grave is located here. This is marked Stations 3 and 4 on the pilgrimage stations/turas map. This consists of a small artificial prehistoric mound that looks like most other megalithic cists. On its south end is a large stone slab which is the location where many believe her body rests. Atop this stone pilgrims scratch the cross into the stone slab (Station 3). The slab atop the cist (Station 4) is also covered with scratched crosses. There are said to exist three Bullaun Stones here, the third of which may be in the station 3 stone slab.

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The Ballyvourney Church – Stations 5-9 is the medieval church that is located in the graveyard. It is one of the major stops for pilgrims doing their rounds and is a location of more cross scratchings/etchings that are made during the turas/stations/rounds. This church was built atop an earlier church that may have been the original Min Mr (a.k.a. Bairnech) church of St. Gobnait. Pilgrims begin at the northwest corner of the earlier foundation noted as station 5 and cite seven “Our Fathers”, “Hail Marys”, and “Glories” at each station. They go in a clock-wise direction circling the church saying a decade of the rosary visiting station 5 four times and all the other stations once. Station 6 can be found in the east wall window of the chancel where the altar was believed to first had rested. After prayers were made, they circle the church, re-enter, and pray at station 7 – rubbing the Sheela-na-gig carving above it which many believe is an image of St. Gobnait. Near the Sheela-Na-gig is the Flagstone of the Thief. The Flagstone of the Thief found in the graveyard and church ruins is believed to represent the tale when St. Gobnait fastened the thief and the cows he stole to the flagstone on which they were standing when they were caught, and the feet/hooves imprinted themselves upon the stone. There is a tale of this flagstone that states a robber once came to the church yard and tried to erect his own shrine here. Once Saint Gobnait learned of this, she took her bowl and threw it at the shrine, thereby destroying it. Since then, the bowl has been located along the west wall of the church and is a place where pilgrims go to touch it with a personal item used to gain healing.

Both of these particular carvings are believed to date from the 15th century C.E. From here the pilgrims would proceed to station 8 just outside of the south wall where the Chanel meets the wider nave. They would circumambulate the church again stopping at station 9 on the south side of the west wall just above the top of the steps at St. Gobnait’s Bowl. Pilgrims would reach into the bowl and touch the stone. Folklore states this bowl was used by St. Gobnait to defeat a local chief who was building near her monastery by destroying his fort. The final station is at St. Abban’s Holy Well (station 10). Here at the church each year on the 11th of February, the parish priest would bring out a 13th century wooden statue of St. Gobnait upon which pilgrims would measure a ribbon against the statue and wrap it around the figure, then take the ribbon home to use for healing magic.

No one knows for sure when the pilgrimages began at this site. Many believe early Pagan faiths came to this location for other reasons, most likely to pay tribute and make offerings at the fairy wells. Once Christianity took over the site, pilgrimages probably did not occur until after the death of St. Gobnait in the mid to late 16th century C.E. The earliest written accounts of pilgrimages to Ballyvourney date to the early 1600’s C.E. The Pope Clement VIII in 1601 granted a special indulgence of 10 years to those who came here on the feast day, went to Confession and Communion and prayed for peace among the “Christian princes”, for the expulsion of heresy, and for the exaltation of the church. Other works of art such as the poetry of Dibhidh Bruidar, the writings of Don Philip Silleabhin and Seathrn Citinn clearly demonstrate that by the late 16th century the Saint Gobnait cult was strong and thriving. Donal Cam Silleabhin during his escape from Bara came to this monastic site in 1603 C.E. with his men to pray to Saint Gobnait offering her gifts asking for her protection. In 1645 C.E. the Papal Nunico Rinuccini wrote about the Cult as well from descriptions of his visit. In 1687 C.E. Sir Richard Cox wrote about Ballyvourney as being home to the Gobnait cult and location of the holy relic that makes cures and miracles to the pilgrims there, referring to the 13th century figurine of St. Gobnait used by the parish during the feast day. Traditionally the relics of Saint Gobnait were in the care of the O’Hierlihy family. It was cared for by this family until 1843 when it was passed on to the Parish priest. Today, the figurine is in care of the local Parish priest.

It is worthy to note that a ring fort that could have had ties with the Pagan pre-Christian use of the site, was destroyed by a local farmer. Information about this incident can be found at http://corkarchaeologist.wordpress.com/destruction-of-ringforts/. There are other wells dedicated to Saint Gobnait throughout Ireland. A magical well in Dunguin exists by the school house that consists of a shrine and well. Another is in Kilgore called the “Tovar Ghobnait” that is enclosed with two pillar stones and a cross stone. It is an ancient stone with a water mark impression that holds rainwater, and is said that the bowl never goes empty. During the summer months it is also said that the wild roses growing around the site will never root if transplanted elsewhere. It was here that the fairy tale of Morty Sullivan and the Black Steed takes place nearby as the location where he sought to atone for his sins at St. Gobnait’s shrine.

How to get here: Drive West from Macroom to Kerry on the N22. As you pass through Ballymakerry (Baile Mhic Ire), you will pass a church on your right-hand side and will take the first left hand turn after the church that has a sign post. Follow the road 400 meters and you will see the first (and main) holy well on the right. You’ll need to go up the hill a bit for parking as it is a very narrow road. Take the next right hand road (near where you can park by a graveyard) up the hill to see the other holy well, statue, hut, church ruins, and main graveyard. There is also a modernized porta-toilet in this parking lot so you don’t have to use the bushes. The GPS coordinates are: 79: W 1967 7688. Longitude: 9 10′ 5″ W, Latitude: 51 56′ 18″ N.

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Article by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions and Research Services: Technogypsie.com. © 2013: All rights reserved.

Article on the Church, Shrine, Graveyard, and Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=14339. Article on the Holy Well found at http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=7591. Article on the Tobar Ghobnatan Wishing Trees, Saint Ghobnatan, and Tobar Ghobnatan cross etchings.

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Montezuma Castle

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Montezuma Castle National Monument
* Camp Verde, Arizona * http://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm *

Thanks to the Antiquities Act of 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated it by naming and declaring four National Monuments as having such historic and cultural significance, one of these was Montezuma castle – one of the best preserved examples of cliff dwellings in the country. This 45-50 room Sinagua pueblo ruin sheltered into a natural alcove in a cliff face overlooking Beaver Creek for 400 years is a phenomenal work of art. It was excavated in 1933, and although little artifacts remained, the architecture alone made it shine above others. Early visitors were allowed entrance into the castle by climbing a series of ladders up the limestone cliffs, but due to damages from tourism, it was closed off in 1951. The park consists of over 826 protected acres at the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, Colorado Basin, and Colorado Range. The park attracts over 350,000 visitors a year and is open 7 days a week from 8 am until 5 pm, except being closed for Christmas. The National Park Service has a wonderful museum below at the gate covering the history of the Sinagua and how the cliff dwellings were constructed, displays some of the artifacts recovered, tools used for life, and presents a gift shop for tourists.

The dwellings were first built and used by the Sinagua culture, a pre-Columbian peoples who were distinctly related to the Hohokam who once lived along the valley floor. The cliff dwelling is 5 stores in height and took over five centuries to construct. The construct is stone and mortar buildings with 20 rooms that could have housed upwards of 50 people. Carved into a limestone high cliff, the natural alcove shades the room from sun and rain. It took much skill to create this masterpiece, had an incredibly defensive standpoint, and was difficult to climb up into even with the ladders. There is evidence in another cliff wall that a earlier larger dwelling, but nothing remains of it. Original artifacts remaining were minimal as the area had been highly looted through the ages. It was occupied from 1100 C.E. to 1425 C.E. with its flourishing peak around 1300 C.E. Many tribes trace their roots to this pueblo, including several Hopi clans. This makes the Castle a pilgrimage point for the Hopi and other tribes who conduct religious ceremonies at this place. The first Euro-American contact was in the 1860s which gave it the name “Montezuma Castle” a big misnomer as the Aztec Emperor of Mexico never had anything to do with this community. In fact, it was built and abandoned at least 100 years long before he was ever born. The area was briefly abandoned due to volcanic ash that came from the Sunset Crater Volcano, and its likely the sediment from that ash aided with Sinagua agricultural success. During this brief flash of history, they lived on the hills nearby, then in 1125 re-settled in the Verde Vally and re-cycled the irrigation systems set up by their ancestors the Hohokam. They evacuated the area for an unknown as of yet reason around 1425 C.E. Theories for this ranged from droughts, clashes with the Yavapai people who moved into the Valley, and/or warfare.

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“Timeless Beauty: Montezuma castle invites us to pause in wonder at the ingenuity of the people who began building it over 700 years ago. Ancestors of today’s Puebloan peoples built and occupied the Castle. We can only speculate why they chose to build here and how they lived in this magnificent cliff dwelling. Both Montezuma and Castle are misnomers. In the 1800s European Americans were fascinated with Inca, May, and Aztec civilizations and gave southwestern sites exotic names, in this case for Emperor Montezuma II – who lived long after the Castle was constructed. The Yayapai call this place the home of the protectors of the Yavapai. The Hopi refer to it as both Sakataka, place where the step ladders are going up and Wupat’pela for long high walls. Due to looting, by the early 1900s much of what the Castle’s residents left behind was gone. Damage to the building increased as visitors climbed ladders to walk through the rooms. Now this dwelling is only accessed for inspection, maintenance, and research.” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

“Creating a home: To construct their cliff home, residents made use of a naturally eroded alcove and fit 20 rooms into the shape of its contours. Why build a home in a cliff face? There are many possibilities: proximity to water and farmland, to stay above floods, or for protection, the view, or the southern exposure that afforded winter solar heat and summer shade. A ready-made shelter also meant fewer walls and roofs to construct for housing, storage, workspace, customs, and rituals. To organize and partition the alcove space, builders created walls with river cobbles and limestone held together with mud mortar. Mud plaster covered and sealed the walls. For roof beams and floors between multi-storied rooms, they mostly used local sycamore along with some alder and ash, but also carried in fir and pine from a distance. The original roof beams protruding from the wall to the right of the tower and the large beam ending in the wall above the tower provide a sense of scale – the castle is not as high up or as large as it might appear. Each group living in the Castle likely had their own room, with roughly 140 square feet (13 sq. meters) or about 17.5 feet by 8 feet (5.3 m x 2.4 m) on average. Ceilings were at about 5 feet (1.5 meters). Peep holes and doorways provided light in the morning and early afternoon, but rooms were dark in the late afternoon and evening. Women or children likely did the plastering including annual patching of exterior walls that eroded easily – their hand prints are still visible in the plaster today.” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

“Cycles of Care: Around the year 1400 C.E. people began leaving their homes here. Five hundred years later, its walls were still largely intact. The builders chose their home site wisely, taking advantage of the shelter that a natural alcove provided. The majority of what you see today is original, and the Castle is thought to be one of the best preserved sites from the period, likely due to its inaccessibility. Hopi and other Native consultants say dwellings like this were meant to recycle back to earth after the people left. However, in 1906 the Castle became a national monument to be managed for present and future generations. A variety of preservation treatments were applied to help withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors and keep the walls standing. Whenever possible, archaeologists attempt to match today’s treatment more closely with the original materials and building details, applying the minimum necessary to protect the integrity of the structure. ” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

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Montezuma Well

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Montezuma Well
* Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle, Arizona *

One of my favorite wells in America, this Native American sacred site is phenomenal and full of mystery! When driving up to the Well, just north of Montezuma Castle, its a small 1/3 mile hike up a short hill to a naturally occurring spring in a sink hole thriving for hundreds if not thousands of years in the desert. Over the top of the sink hole is a series of empty cliff dwellings, caves, and ruins of stone pueblos from peoples who used to live at the sacred spring. It was formed by an enormous limestone cavern collapsing into the spring forming the sinkhole that you see here. From prehistoric cultures to a 14th century farm, the ruins on this National Park property is enticing on their own with the magical spring as icing on the cake. This natural oasis is like none other as a natural well with a never-ending supply of water for a region where water is very scarce. The waters in this spring well up from deep underground caverns and flow constantly out into the sinkhole and down through the boulders into the nearby river. The sinkhole measures approximately 368 feet across and 55 to 120 feet deep with an elevation of 3,618 feet above sea level. The well’s spring water trickles down through the limestone boulders into Beaver Creek, the sacred outlet being a spring hole under the boulders from the sinkhole and is most likely the the revered sacred outlet of the spring.

Over 15 million gallons (57 million liters) springing forth from these primordial origins. The geology of the area is very unique providing refuge to various species of animals, plants, and creatures that are found no where else in the world. This contributes to the sacredness it possesses to early peopling in the area, especially those living at Montezuma Castle cliff dwellings. The name “Montezuma” is a misnomer, as he most likely never visited nor knew of this place. The Hopi called it “Yuvukva” meaning “sunken spring” or “Tawapa” meaning “sun spring”. The Yavapai called it “Ah-hah gkith-gygy-vah” meaning “broken water”. The Western Apache called it “Tu sitch’iL meaning “Water breaks open”. The spring and sinkhole is embedded into emergence mythologies and is a place of origins to many tribes. The communities that settled here were able to exist here for several centuries. No one is sure of why these people left, but it could have been a build-up of low-level arsenic found in the waters affecting their health over time. The Dwellings date from the 1100’s of the Common Era (C.E) through 1400 C.E. when large networks of pueblo-communities set up their villages in the Verde Valley especially at Sacred Mountain and Montezuma Castle.

The two peoples that lived in this area well recorded were the Hohokam and the Sinagua. The first settlers were believed to be the Hohokan, a Pima word for “all used up”. They lived in pit houses made of sticks, poles, and mud irrigating crops of beans, corn, and squash. The second peoples were the Sinagua. Sinagua means “without water” in Spanish, and may have related to the disappearance of the people when droughts hit the area. The Sinagua created the cliff dwellings and pueblos upwards of 55 rooms in the area. They primarily farmed the area as well as some hunting. They were master craftspeople creating tools, manos, metates, ornaments, and garments. Natives first occupied the area around 2,000 years ago – along the Verde River and Beaver Creek. The peoples went through waves of occupations and disappeared almost as quickly as overnight. Archaeologists pondered the reason for this, from low levels of arsenic in the waters making them ill over time, drought, exhausted soil, diseases, wars with marauding tribes coming into the area, or viral outbreaks. No one knows for sure, but when they left, they left the dwellings in the same condition as they had inhabited them.

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This sink hole has been a mystery to everyone who has encountered it. Science today is still stumped about its complexities – its depth, its source, and its constant flow. It is considered quite miraculous. The Yavapai and Apache peoples believe that once something emerges from its vents at the bottom of the well, it can never return. Oral traditions tell of the spirit of a great water serpent that still lives here called “Ah-hah bavilwaja” or “water monster”. That has been true, even to science. Even when a regional drought is taking effect on the area, a sweet 1.6 million gallons flow through its main vents every day at a fairly regular consistency and nearly constant 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Science thinks they might have an idea where the water originated and is constantly investigating with National Park Service dive teams. 55 feet deep, fluidized fine sand boiling up in swirling cascading mounds creating the mirage of a false bottom as the vents are another 65 feet deeper making measuring its depth difficult. They tried to put research equipment in and just as the legend dictates, could never get them in, they would always be pushed out. Specialists of all kinds have come to study the well through the years. The geology of the well tells its formation was between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago from precipitation atop the Mogollan Rim peculating down through hundreds of yards of rock, basalt flows, Coconino sandstone, Supal Group, Hermit Shales and others until it reached the relatively permeable Red wall Limestone beneath trickling towards the Spring that is Montezuma Well. The waters and soils combined with an underground dike of volcanic basalt forcing it back to the surface after its ten-millennium journey. Geological patterns and ripples of travertine just 1/3 of a mile around the spring are remains of another massive dome created by yet an older spring than the existing one in Montezuma Well. There are no fish within these waters, just thousands of freshwater leeches and is home to creatures found nowhere else on the planet. Since there are high levels of dissolved carbon dioxide – 80 times higher than any other lake, life is impossible for the fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects to settle here. The well is home to only 5 living species with the leeches being the top of the food chain. These are (1) Endemic leeches, (2) amphipods, (3) snails, (4) diatoms, and (5) water scorpions. The amphipods risk going to the surface to feed on microscopic algae trying to escape the leeches during the late afternoon sunlight. Once darkness folds, the leeches rise and feast on them. Migrating ducks, native sonoran mud turtles, and muskrats often come in and swim the waters on occasion as well. Around the edge of the spring is quite a varied assortment of plant and animal live. The plant life include the One seed Juniper, Arizona Sycamore, Arizona Walnut, Acacia, Velvet Mesquite, Velvet Ash, Joint-fir, Ephedra plant, Cliff-rose, Brittle bush, Salt Bush, Creosote Bush, Desert Broom, Spanish Dagger, Indian paintbrush, gray thistle, hedgehog cactus, gray thistle, pale evening prim rose, penstemon, prickle poppy, prickly pear, jimsonweed, milkvetch, yellow columbine, maidenhair spleenwort, and Globemallow. Animal life include deer, raven, american wigeons, coots, cinnamon teal, canadian geese, gadwalls, ruddy ducks, mallards, robin, roadrunner, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, american kestrel, belted kingfisher, gamble’s quail, cardinal, canyon wren, black phoebe, gila woodpecker, great blue heron, lesser goldfinch, mourning doves, red-shafted flicker, gopher snakes, bull snacks, rattlesnakes, collared lizard, horned toad, cottontail rabbit, javelina, skunks, arizona gray fox, porcupine, beaver, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit, and jackrabbits.

While Native Americans inhabited this region for hundreds if not thousands of years, the first white explorer to come to the well was the Spanish explorer Antonio de Espejo during his 1583 expedition. He basically described the Montezuma casle and well site in his journal as an abandoned pueblo with a ditch running from a nearby pond. Early settlers believed the cliff dwellings belonged to the Aztec emperor Montezuma which gave root to the naming misnomer. The castle was actually home to the Sinagua Indians and deserted a century before Montezuma was even born.

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Acoma Pueblo

Acoma Pueblo
* Acoma, New Mexico *

I’m not sure how I forgot about this mysterious and heavenly city, “City in the Clouds” as I had studied it extensively in Archaeology and Anthropology courses in University. It took a good travel mate to attract my attention to it as we were travelling across New Mexico. “Aa’ku”, “Hakukya”, “Haak’oh” and “Acoma” are various Native American language names for the Cloud City located 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This Mesa-top City, is three Puebloan culture villages combined into one – (1) Old Acoma or “Sky City”, (2) Acomita, and (3) McCartys. “Acoma” is a Spanish (as well as the Keresan language group Acoma) word for “the place that always was” or “People of the White Rock”. “Pueblo” is Spanish for “village”. A Federally recognized tribe, the Acoma are a Pueblo Native American group who are believed to be descendants from the Anasazi and/or Mogollon peoples of the Four Corners Region (Home to Mesa Verde, Salmon, Aztec, and Chaco Canyon culture groups) as are most of the Pueblo peoples. There are approximately just under 5,000 registered Acoma people existing today as most of their populations were decimated by the Spanish, Catholicism, and Euro-American settlers. They have occupied this area for over 800 years as of this writing making their village one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the United States. The Acoma believe they have been inhabiting the village for over 2,000 years. Archaeologists believe that the Mogollon/Anasazi peoples who gave birth to the Puebloans of the Four Corners region who evacuated the area due to severe droughts, and Sky City believed to be one of the locations they relocated to. This mesa that they moved to is a 365 foot high natural mesa, isolated with built-in natural fortifications. This helped the Acoma defend against Plains, Navajo, and Apache Indians because they were a peaceful non-warring society. However they suffered once falling in contact with the Spanish and Europeans. Spanish explorers in search of the 7 cities of Gold, came to them peacefull at first, trying to locate the legends of gold they were told about. The expedition’s leader, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado noted in his journals during their 1540 visit that this Pueblo was one of the strongest places they had encountered. At the time of their initial visit, the only method to access the top of the Mesa, was via an almost vertical set of stairs cut into the rock face. It took roughly 18 years for the Acoma to realize the Spanish had ulterior motives and relations between the two peoples began to disintegrate. The Acoma discovered that the Spanish had wanted to colonize their lands, so in turn ambused Juan de Onate’s men, killing 11 of them to defend their acreage. The Spanish came back to enforce penalty on the attack, burning most of their village and slaughtering over 600 of their people. They imprisoned the rest forcing them into slavery. They amputated the right foot of all men 25 years or older so they could not leave the Mesa. After the Massacre, the Acoma recovered and rebuilt their community, even though they had to pay taxes and tithing to Onate and his Catholic Missionaries. Churches were constructed and Western ways were taught to the Acoma. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 took its toll on the Spanish, bringing in refugees from other Pueblos, and pushing many Spanish out. Those Acoma that left the Mesa, formed the Laguna Pueblo not too far away. The Acoma then suffered through Westerner diseases brought over such as smallpox and raids from the Ute, Comanche, and Apache. They had to adopt Catholic faith, although also practicing their indigenous faiths in secret.

From 1629-1641 C.E. A Catholic Priest named Father Juan Ramirez was stationed at the Acoma Pueblo constructing the San Esteven Del Rey Mission Church atop the Mesa. The Acoma was forced to build this colossal palace for God moving over 20,000 tons of stone, mud, and straw to the Mesa, making Adobe for the construction. Giant ponderosa pine timber was also hand-carried up to the Mesa from over 40 miles away as 60 foot high wooden pillars hand carved in red and white designs.

The Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 appropriate much of their stolen lands back to them. Protestant missionaries invaded the area bringing alternative faiths to Catholicism as well as Christian influenced schools. The Burea of Indian Affairs forced many of the Acoma children to attend boarding schools, taking the kids from their parents. Much of the ancient ways were lost in process since many elders passed away before the children returned. What children returned often chose Western ways and was no longer interested in ancient traditions. The Church and Acoma village was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and by 2007 became a National Trust for Historic Preservation Site. There are roughly 300 two-three story adobe buildings atop the Mesa with exterior ladders accessing the upper levels where residents live. The Mesa is now accessed by a road built in the 1950’s for Hollywood Film sets needing to bring in studio equipment for movie productions. There are less than 30 Acoma who live atop the Mesa today. There are roughly 60,000 tourists each year visiting the site. The village is not permitted to have running water, electricity, nor sewage disposal atop the Mesa in order to preserve ancient traditions. There is a reservation that surrounds the Mesa, roughly 600 square miles, where most tribal members live while the others live in modern day local cities hosting casinos, restaurants, gas stations, and shops. Today, it is believed that many of their ancestral beliefs and traditions are still practiced in secret from Westerners while also practicing Catholicism, the faith that was forced upon them since Euro-American and Spanish contact. They believe in creating harmony between their people and nature. The sun is seen as their creator Deity. Their world is balanced by the mountains, their community, the sun above, and the earth below. Their religious ceremonies revolve around the weather. They utilize kachinas in their rituals. They would worship in their kivas. The Acoma speak both English and Acoma, while their elders may also speak Spanish. There are less than 5,000 Acoma left today. The government is managed by the cacique (head of the Pueblo) and the war captain who manage the tribe until they die. These individuals maintain strong religious connections to all the work they do as tradition dictates. There is also the All Indian Pueblo Council that began in 1598 and helps manage Indian affairs. They manage over 500,000 acres of traditional Acoma lands consisting of valleys, hills, arroyos, and mesas. Tribal councils, staff, and the governor is appointed by the cacique. Besides Government subsidies, their major income is Tourism.

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Taos Pueblo

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Taos Pueblo * Pueblo de Taos * ?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo * *
* Taos, New Mexico * www.taospueblo.com * ca. 1000 C.E./1450 C.E. to Present day *

As a southwestern Archaeologist, I have always been inspired and intrigued with the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community that has been designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and as a National Historic Landmark. Aesthetically its a great example of adobe architecture and Puebloan culture. “Taos” was borrowed from the Spanish word “Taos” (t??o) meaning “village”, translating “Taos Pueblo” to “village in the village”. “Pueblo” means “the village” or “in the village” in the anglicized writing of the name, and given the namesake as “Taos Pueblo”, its true name however in the Taos language is “?a?ophym?p?h??oth??olbo” meaning “at Red Willow Canyon Mouth”. These multi-storied adobe structures have been continuously inhabited for over a 1000 years. As a part of the Eight Northern Pueblos, this community is known for being one of the most conservative, secretive, and private of those in existing Puebloan culture. The village is atop a 95,000 acre sized reservation with over 4,500 inhabitants. The Red Willow Creek (Rio Pueblo de Taos) runs through the village as a small stream flowing into the middle of the community, fed by the headwaters sprung for the from spring and snow melt of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The pueblo is noted for its multi-storied residential complex, consisting of adobe architecture with reddish-brown mud-clay construction that is divided into two parts by the Red Willow Creek. Most of the Taos buildings originally had few windows or doors and were accessed by square holes in the roof led down by long climbing wooden ladders. Roofs were supported by large cedar logs with layers of branches, grass, mud, and plaster covering it all. The Pueblo wall completely enclosed the village back in the day and much taller for protection (today they are short or missing elements). The north side of the Pueblo is the most photographed and painted buildings in North America as they are representative of the largest multi-storied Pueblo structures still in existence. The walls are several feet thick for defensive strategy, and until 1900 C.E. only accessed from ladders in the roof. Homes usually have two rooms, one for living/sleeping and the other for cooking/storage. Each house is self-contained with no passageways between the houses. In early days, they were minimal with furnishings but today have beds, chairs, tables, counters, etc. There has never been electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing permitted in the Taos Pueblo. Kivas are scattered around the Pueblo utilized for council meetings and spiritual rites.

There is controversial debate on exactly when it was built, but estimated construction is between 1000 C.E. and 1450 C.E. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960 and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. The original Pueblo Indians (including the Taos Native Americans) settled along the Rio Grande River after migrating from the Four Corners Region as their ancestry come from the Anasazi people who built the ruins in that area (Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, etc.) forced to move on by a devastating drought in the 13th century of the Common Era. The waters of the Rio Grande River were more dependable. This Pueblo became a trade center for most of the native Populations of the area including the Plains tribes, often hosting a trade fair every fall after the agricultural harvest. Their spirituality was very Pagan, animistic, and shamanistic in belief structure which was almost demolished by Catholicism and Christianity after contact. The first Spanish to arrive was in 1540 C.E. from the Francisco Vsquez de Coronado expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. By 1620 C.E., San Geronimo de Taos Catholic church was constructed, albeit numerous resistance attempts from the local Taos Native Americans. Resistance against the Catholic faith was hardcore at this time. However, as tensions grew between the Euro-American and Spanish settlers invading the area as well as between the Plains Indians and amongst their own peoples, the 1600’s C.E. of this region was in major upheaval and change. Churches were burnt, settlers were killed, priests murdered, and the grand Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (CE) took foot. The Taos people killed all three priests and destroyed the San Geronimo church. It was rebuilt for a third time by the end of the 18th century and relations between the Spanish and Puebloan culture found a level of peace finding strength coming together to defeat another invader, the Comanche and Ute Indian Tribes from the North and East. Resistance towards Catholicism was still strong.

As New Mexico came under control of the United States away from Mexico, officially becoming a territory in 1847 C.E. the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed with a grand peace requested and cherished. This did not last long as another revolt broke out in this Pueblo, when the Taos Pueblo leader “Tomasito” teamed together with the Mexican leader “Pablo Montoya” instigated a rebellion of Native Americans and Mexicans who refused to become part of the United States. They killed the then Governor Charles Bent while marching onto Santa Fe, followed by refuge in the Geronimo Mission Church. The Church was attacked by American troops, onslaught murder of the rebels and taking the others hostage, once again demolishing the church. It was rebuilt a fourth time in 1850 C.E. near the west gate of the Pueblo wall. The ruins can be seen today in the grave yard.

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In the early 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt took 48,000 acres of land from the Pueblo designating it as the Carson National Forest. This was returned back to the Pueblo in 1970 by President Nixon, and in 1996 an additional 764 acres were given back to the Pueblo covering their sacred Blue Lake – a magical body of water integrated into early Taos Puebloan belief structure.

Today the Taos Puebloan Peoples practice two spiritual practices – the original indigenous spiritual tradition and Roman Catholicism. It is said that the majority of the Taos Indians still practice their old ways even though 90% of their members have been baptized as Roman Catholics. From my experiences however, it is very apparent that much of the old ways have been destroyed by Catholicism. When I asked many Native American vendors in the Pueblo about certain meanings of various stones, symbols, or items (many of which are common knowledge items of lore today) – the response issued that they didn’t know, said there was nothing special about it, or that there was no lore associated with them. This demonstrated to me that either they were keeping secret even that which is common mainstream knowledge, or the general populace in the Pueblo has lost their cultural mythos and lore, which was very saddening to me. In talking to some Puebloan contacts, many say the ancient traditions are still practiced, albeit in secret away from white folk, or that they are now Christian or Catholic in practice. The concept of “community” however has not changed amongst Puebloan culture. Their phrase “we are in one nest” has been the supportive cohesive glue keeping the community together. The other aspect is “family” with high tribute and respect for their ancestors, elders, and parents. Often pictures, photos, or items belonging to ancestors or parents would be found in the homes or shops – a part of ancestral worship in like. Descent is respected from both the father and mother’s side (patrilineal and matrilineal) and although each family lives in a separate dwelling, they come together for family issues, and everyone is available to help care for the children. The elderly teach the young values and traditions of the culture with hopes of securing and preserving Taos Puebloan culture for generations to come.

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Paul Koudounaris’ lecture on Heavenly Bodies : Spectacular Jeweled Skeletons

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Paul Koudounaris: Heavenly Bodies
* Lecture, Slide Show, and Book Signing * The Strange Factory * Albuquerque, New Mexico * Friday, November 22, 2013 *

A race from Taos to Albuquerque to visit a friend’s lecture on his amazing discoveries about decorative skeletons was a whirlwind by itself, but would up to be an incredible night of magic, gold, jewels, and folklore. We wandered into the Strange Factory a little late as a snow storm slowed our travels on site, but were warmed with awe as we saw some of the works that Paul Koudounaris exhibited in his presentation. A astute author and photographer from Los Angeles, California; Paul K was presenting at the oddities shop called “the Strange Factory” in the University district of Albuquerque. Paul K’s charnel house and ossuary research has broken research milestones in folklore, oddities, and macabre art. This evenings lecture covered those of human skeletons found in Catholic churches adorned with gold and gemstones. He is a leading expert on bone-decorated shrines and religious structures.
Paul Koudounaris, PhD in Art History (UCLA 2004) is an author and photographer from Los Angeles that specializes in Baroque-era Northern European Art. His charnel house and ossuary research and photos have made him a well-known figure in the field of macabre art, and he is a leading expert in the history of bone-decorated shrines, human remains, religious art, and religious structures.He obtained a PhD in Art History from UCLA in 2004, with a specialty in Baroque-era Northern European Art. He began his research in 2006 studying the use of human remains in religious ritual and as a decorative element in sacred spaces, especially within the context of the Catholic Church. He began researching the existence of these pieces, photographing them, writing about them, and publishing the results in the Prague Post, Fortean Times, and other such publications. He compiled a premiere work on bone-decorated religious structures taking field trips to over 70 sites along four continents, many of which had never been seen or photographed. He released this book as “Heavenly Bodies” in 2013 through Thames and Hudson. This story told the tale of a group of skeletons removed from the Roman catacombs during the 17th century decorated with jewels by various nuns. These bones were at first mistakenly identified as Christian martyrs and shipped to Germanic churches, decorated, and placed in the altars. Through time, most of these were removed, disposed of or thrown into storage during the Enlightenment. He tracked down the corpses’ locations, documented them, and photographed them for for book. This book followed his successful masterpiece “The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses” in 2011. The presentation was well spoken and masterfully done to a full house in attendance.

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Roswell, New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico

The “All-American City” or so it is branded by themselves, Roswell was a hometown to me from the 3rd grade until senior year of High School. Oh the fond memories of this dust-bowl of a town who’s prime entertainment for the high school youth was “dragging’ main street” every weekend to see who was “out and about” and hanging out in the Sonic drive-in. Of course many shenanigans went on making out at the Lover’s lane hill overlooking the city, or making love in the rocks at Bottomless Lakes State Park when our parents thought we were at the library or prom. Of course those mischievous few of us spent many days (and evenings) partying or exploring the Missile silos on the outskirts of town. Bonfires in the control room was a special kind of ambiance. Of course, we all heard the legends and rumors of the “UFO crash”, alien abductions, alien autopsies, and secret military bases – but that’s all they were … legends. Now these green or gray skinned aliens don the cities light-posts and is a theme park attraction to every gift shop, fast food joint, hotel, and wal-mart. The downtown theater we once partied to “Rocky Horror” has mutated to its own science fiction picture show as one of the world’s magnets for UFO experts, enthusiasts, and crazies as the International UFO Museum.

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Roswell represents and is in the county seat of Chaves County fluctuating annually in population growth as business boom, close, die, diminish or become reborn. It now boasts a population of 48,000 inhabitants in 2012 celebrating its standing as being New Mexico’s fifth largest city. Outside of UFO’s and aliens, Roswell’ites make their living with irrigation farming, dairy farms, ranching, petroleum, manufacture, and distribution. It was never really a tourist trap, UNTIL … the aliens arrived. It was however home of Bottomless Lakes State Park, Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and the New Mexico Military Institute (1891). The 1947 UFO crash made it the most popular, other than that it was a central point for some very famous people including Robert H. Goddard who invented the Rocket. No wonder those “hush-hush” secret military bases set up shop in this small hick town of tumbleweeds. Other famous inhabitants were Patrick Garrett the Sheriff, John Chisum the Pioneer, Demi Moore the Actress, John Denver the folk singer, Nancy Lopez the LPGA golf pro, Austin St. John the first Red Power Ranger, UFO Phil the singer, and Tom Brookshier the Pro Football player.

The UFO crash has much lore, legend, and news stories surrounding it – taking place just outside of town to upwards of 75 miles away near Corona. Whatever crashed there, was hauled into the local Roswell Army Air Field, the “then” secret military base for much dark mysteries … or so they say. On July 8, 1947 the Roswell Daily Record reported the “capture” of a “flying saucer” by the U.S. Government, hauling the ship and its inhabitants to the Walker Air Force Base. the U.S. Government to this day maintains it was debris from an “experimental” high-altitude helium weather and surveillance balloon. A high level military official from the base apparently came on to record to state it was actually a spaceship crash with alien bodies captured. It has been believed to be one of the U.S. Government’s most infamous cover-ups.

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Roswell was first inhabited by Native Americans who were pushed out by Euro-American Aliens – a group of pioneers from Missouri who started up the first Euro-American settlement 15 miles southwest of present day Roswell in 1865. They ran out of water however, so had to abandon this “Missouri Plaza”. Hispanics moved in from Lincoln, New Mexico as did John Chisum with his famous Jingle Bob Ranch 5 miles from Roswell’s current downtown. In 1869 two business-men from Omaha, Nebraska named Van C. Smith and Aaron Wilburn set up shop in what is now downtown Roswell building two adobe buildings – the general store, post office, and make-shift hotel. This gave birth to the “True” Roswell. Van’s father was Roswell Smith, whom he named the town after. By 1877, Captain Joseph Calloway Lea and his family bought out Smith and Wilburn, becoming the largest land-holders of the area. The town survived the Lincoln County War from 1877-1879 and by 1890 local merchant Nathan Jaffa struck clear gold when he sprung water tapping a major aquifer while digging a well in his back yard giving major growth and development opportunities for the area. The Railroad came through town by 1893. When World War II struck the country, the military set up a prisoner of war camp near Orchard Park holding Germans forcing labor on them to build Roswell’s infrastructure, especially paving the banks of the North Spring River. A iron cross can be found on the north bank built by the Germans in the Roswell Spring River Zoo. By the 1930’s, Robert H. Goddard popularized Roswell with his early rocketry work bringing in the military heavier from 1941 to 1967. Ruined by alien autopsy conspiracies and economic down-turn, the Walker Air Force base was finally DE-commissioned as were the 22 missile silos surrounding the city.

Located on the high plains, Roswell experiences the four seasons with cold winters, mild warm springs, very hot summers. Monsoons are common during the summer months with torrential downpours, thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and tornadoes.

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Tortolita canyon trail #54 and Nogal Trail 48

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Nogal Trail #48 to Tortolita Canyon Trail #54
* Sierra Blanca, Ruidoso, New Mexico, USA *

On November 2013 we went for a hike along Nogal Canyon Trail #48 to the peak overlooking the Valley of Fire on the Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 to spread the ashes of our family. If you’d like to read the Chronicles of that adventure, go here: . Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 is 9 miles long and begins off of Forest Road 400 through Private Land ending at the Crest Trail (T25). Its a popular trail for horseback riding and hiking. It’s a light hike. Midway along this trail it meets the 1 1/2 mile long Nogal Trail that rises gradually 600 feet in elevation. The trails’ highest point is 9,000 feet above sea level and is a very pleasant hike, moderately-used, with a gentle gradual incline at the base of Nogal Peak. The Nogal trail ends at Tortolita Trail and starts at the downfall shamble of a abandoned gold mine (which was flooded when we visited). Tortolita Trail follows the steep west faced slope of Nogal Peak towards the head of Nogal canyon, climbing above Dry Gulch and extending to the old trailhead in Nogal Canyon. It is not well used or maintained, thereby sometimes hard to follow. At this intersection, appears to be an archaeological site labelled PH 1 (or could represent Post Hole 1 atop the peak) just off center of the intersection of these two trails. It appears to be that of an old mine as rock piles abound and a deep cut in the peak looks mined.

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Starwood XXXIII – 2013: Tree Leaves Oracle / Pirate Relief / Faeid Fellowship Booth

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Starwood 2013:
The Tree Leaves’ Oracle, Pirate Relief, Faeid Fellowship, & The Naiads Well Booth

* July 9th-14th, 2013 * Starwood Festival XXXIII * Wisteria Nature Sanctuary * Pomeroy * Ohio * http://www.rosencomet.com/starwood/ *

For its seventh year as the manifestation of The Tree Leaves’ Oracle (of the 33 Starwoods), joined for its first year with its brethren of Pirate Relief and the Naiads’ Well, and the 5th year with the Faeid Fellowship – Tree Leaves presents its collection of treasures, art, clothing, incense, oils, bath and body works, leaf works, faeries, pirates, zombies, and fantasy collection at the annual Starwood Festival. First time they’ve attended on the new location of Starwood on the grounds of the Wisteria Pagan and Nature Sanctuary in Pomeroy Ohio. It was a fun-filled 6 days of vending through sunburns and drenching rains welcoming in new friends, extended family, clientele, and window shoppers for the duration of the event. A catastrophic storm demolished one of its 10×20 tents, a electrician helped try to solve the solar panel burnout, and a leaking RV roof only added to the adventure. Sales were decent, definitely covering festival costs, but nothing to write home about especially given the weather-induced damages. However, the festival was so incredibly fun that wasn’t a consideration as the crew plans to return next year. Albeit a different experience from it being held at Brushwood, Wisteria has a different experience and magic to be part of. Thanks for a wonderful Starwood!

The Tree Leaves Oracle, Pirate Relief, Faeid Fellowship, & The Naiads Well Booth at Starwood 2013
Wisteria Campground
* Pomeroy, Ohio * http://www.wisteria.org/ * * info@wisteria.org * 740-742-4302 *

Monday, July 9th, 2013
Good times as we were setup during Wisteria’s Wormhole event, so didn’t have to stress with the craziness around us of incoming traffic, choosing camp locations, building and erecting camps … we welcomed in newcomer’s, revelled with those who already had been there, and provided supplies and gifts to those who sought them. New friends and extended family was made. Weather bounced between overcast and rain with a sprinkling of sun. Good times.

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Wisteria Campground (Pomeroy, Ohio)

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Wisteria Campground
* Pomeroy, Ohio * http://www.wisteria.org/ * * info@wisteria.org * 740-742-4302 *

I remember the first time I ventured into the fabled lands of Wisteria. That was for Pagan Spirit Gathering held by Circle Sanctuary back in 2002. Alas, Pagan Spirit Gathering is no longer held here. But just as Starwood was akin to Brushwood, Starwood is now held (and for quite some time) at Wisteria. Wisteria is a great place for nature lovers, naturalists, Pagans, earth spiritualists, and alternative campers. It is also a fabulous site for festivals and events as acclaimed by the infamous festivals held on its grounds. It is a great place for large gatherings or small get-togethers, weddings, music festivals, and spiritual events. They are equipt to handle small groups of just a handful upwards of several thousand participants. Wisteria is set with a grand stage, bonfire circle, hiking trails, a faerie shrine, sacred sites, stone circle, an ancestor mound, a turtle mound, sweat lodge, workshop sites, the permanent setting of Caffeina’s Cosmic Cafe Restaurant and Coffee House, The Green Man Tavern, a swimming pond, a merchant loop, a playground, shower house, and wifi. Groups can rent space in the campground or hold private camping events. Wisteria is managed by itself as well as services of the site to make it an easier place to hold events by organizers. Wisterians are open-minded, professional, and very experienced with events large or small. They will custom tailor their event services to the festival organizer’s needs.

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The Maid of the Mist Tour (Niagara Falls)

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Maid of the Mist Tour
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

If you want to get a good look at the Bridal Veil Falls or the Horseshoe Falls from the American side. It begins as a ferry boat that issues you a rain poncho and takes you out from the calm side of the Niagara River near the Rainbow Bridge. The Tour takes you by the American and Bridal Veil Falls, and then into the spray heavy curve of Horseshoe/Canadian Falls. The tour can be accessed either from the American or the Canadian side. The tour is operated by the Maid of the Mist Steamship Company. The first boat was launched in 1846 to ferry people from Canada to America and vice versa. It lost business when the Suspension Bridge was built and became a tour system. Numerous boats and versions were constructed and used through the years. The very first Maid of the Mist I ran from 1846 until 1854 as a double-stacked steamboat ferry. Business failed in the late 1800’s and was not restored until 1895. The boats have saved a few people who plunged over Horseshoe Falls through the years. The Canadian operations will close in October of 2013. Most likely will be operated by another company on the Canadian side in the near future. Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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Horseshoe Falls

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Horseshoe Falls
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

Located on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, the “Canadian Falls” or “Horseshoe Falls” is the most famous and most attracted spots at the Niagara Falls wonder. Over 90% of the Niagara River flows over these falls and is used for massive hydro-power generation. The Remaining 10% of the river flows over the American Falls. These falls are located between Terrapin Point on Goat Island and Table Rock in Ontario. The Falls have been fought over between America and Canada throughout history.

The Myth of the Maid of the Mist is a Native American legend from the Ongiaras Tribe about a young woman, named Lelawal, the Maid of the Mist. She lost her husband at a very young age and was lost in sorrow. She canoed along the Niagara River to the Falls, singing a death song paddling into the current. She was caught up in the rough waves and hurled into the falls, but as she fell, Heno, the God of Thunder who lived in these falls caught her carrying her down to his home beneath the veil of waters falling. Heno and his sons took care of her until she healed. One of his sons fell in love with her, married, and bore a son who learned to be a God of Thunder. The Maid however missed seeing her family and tribe. Heno reported to her that A great snake came down the mighty river and poisoned the waters of her people. They grew sick and were dying, being devoured by the snake until the mass disappearance of the tribe occurred. She begged Heno to be able to go back to the realm of her people to warn them of the dangers, so he lifted her through the falls back to her people. She advised them to move away from the river onto higher lands until the danger passed. Heno came back and brought her back to her husband. Once the great snake discovered that the people deserted the village, it went into a rage hissing and going upstream to search for them. Heno rose up through the mist of the falls and threw a giant thunderbolt at the snake killing it in one blast. The giant body floated downstream and lodged just above the cataract creating a large semi-circle that deflected huge amounts of water into the falls just above the God’s home. Heno swept through the falls trying to stop the massive influx of water caused by the position of the corpse. His home was destroyed. He called for the Maid and his sons returning up into the sky making a new home in the heavenly realms watching down over the humans, Heno thundering in the clouds as he once did in the falls. The thunder of the falls is Heno’s voice. [ http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/09/the_maid_of_the_mist.html ] Other legends claim Lelawala was betrothed by her father to a king she despised and secretly wanted to be with He-No, the God of Thunder, who lived beneath Horseshoe Falls. In the middle of heartache she chose to sacrifice herself to him, paddling her canoe into the Niagara River and swept off into the Falls. He-no caught her, merged with her spirit, and lived forever in his sanctuary behind the falls, whereas she became the “Maiden of the Mist”.

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Bridal Veil Falls

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American Bridal Veil Falls
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

Formerly known as “Luna Falls” or “Iris Falls”, it is the smallest of the three Niagara Falls and is located on the American side. It has a 78′ vertical fall onto talus boulders then another 103′ down to the Maid of the Mist Pool for a total 181′ drop. The crest is 56′ and is facing northwest with a 508′ elevation and is separated from the America Falls by Luna Island, and from Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island. The Cave of the Winds behind these falls are no longer, but via the tour can be taken down for a view of the falls from the bottom on a series of walkways and decks lodged into the rock crevices.

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The Myth of the Maid of the Mist is a Native American legend from the Ongiaras Tribe about a young woman, named Lelawal, the Maid of the Mist. She lost her husband at a very young age and was lost in sorrow. She canoed along the Niagara River to the Falls, singing a death song paddling into the current. She was caught up in the rough waves and hurled into the falls, but as she fell, Heno, the God of Thunder who lived in these falls caught her carrying her down to his home beneath the veil of waters falling. Heno and his sons took care of her until she healed. One of his sons fell in love with her, married, and bore a son who learned to be a God of Thunder. The Maid however missed seeing her family and tribe. Heno reported to her that A great snake came down the mighty river and poisoned the waters of her people. They grew sick and were dying, being devoured by the snake until the mass disappearance of the tribe occured. She begged Heno to be able to go back to the realm of her poeple to warn them of the dangers, so he lifted her through the falls back to her people. She advised them to move away from the river onto higher lands until the danger passed. Heno came back and brought her back to her husband. Once the great snake discovered that the people deserted the village, it went into a rage hissing and going upstream to search for them. Heno rose up through the mist of the falls and threw a giant thunderbolt at the snake killing it in one blast. The giant body floated downstream and lodged just avove the cataract creating a large semi-circle that deflected huge amounts of water into the falls just above the God’s home. Heno swept through the falls trying to stop the massive influx of water caused by the position of the corpse. His home was destroyed. He called for the Maid and his sons returning up into the sky making a new home in the heavenly realms watching down over the humans, Heno thundering in the clouds as he once did in the falls. The thunder of the falls is Heno’s voice. [ http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/09/the_maid_of_the_mist.html ] Other legends claim Lelawala was betrothed by her father to a king she despised and secretly wanted to be with He-No, the God of Thunder, who lived beneath Horseshoe Falls. In the middle of heartache she chose to sacrifice herself to him, paddling her canoe into the Niagara River and swept off into the Falls. He-no caught her, merged with her spirit, and lived forever in his sanctuary behind the falls, whereas she became the “Maiden of the Mist”.

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Cave of the Winds (Niagara Falls, NY)

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Cave of the Winds
* Goat Island * Niagara Falls State Park, New York *

Not to be confused with Cave of the Winds in Colorado, the Cave of the Winds Niagara was a natural cave that ran behind Bridal Veil Falls in the Niagara Falls State Park on the U.S.A. side of the Niagara River. It ran roughly 130 feet deep and was discovered in 1834. It was originally called “Aolus’ Cave” named as such in tribute to the Greek God of the Winds. Tours began in 1841 taking people down within for a view of the falls from beneath. Unfortunately in 1920 a rock fall made the actual cave no longer safe to go within. Tours began again in 1924 bringing visitors to the foot of the falls, but does not go behind it. There are points along the decks and walk ways where tropical storm-like conditions can be felt with winds upwards of 70 mph raging under the falls. The cave eventually eroded away by rockfalls finally in 1954 and the name of the attraction as a “cave” is more a “underlook” and “overlook” depending on your viewing platform. The platforms are removed every winter to avoid damage by ice fall, and are not bolted into the rocks, but rather wedged into the crevices.

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Brushwood Folklore Center (Sherman, New York)

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

Brushwood Folklore Center
* http://www.brushwood.com/ * * 8881 Bailey Hill Rd. * Sherman New York * 14781 * 716-761-6750 * camp@brushwood.com *

One of my favorite campsites and festival grounds is Brushwood Folklore Center, nestled in upstate New York. A rustic wooded retreat on over 180 wooded acres outside of Sherman, New York in rural Chautauqua County. A clothing optional campground and resort focused on creativity, community, and spirituality. A great place to relax, become one with nature or with others, or to be part of the fabulous festivals held year round including bonfires, drumming, dancing, swimming, and soaking in the hot tub. The grounds are full of lots of temples, sanctuaries, altars, and sacred spaces where various groups host numerous rites and rituals every year. Family and community run since 1970, Brushwood is a family and community oriented campground.

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

The campgrounds have seasonal campground sites, co-ed showers, flush toilets, a swimming pool, and two hot tubs. There are three covered pavilions near main camping, lots of outdoor space for workshops, lectures, ceremonies, and performances. An heated indoor lodge for year-round use and heated indoor sleeping areas for over a dozen visitors. Camping fees are only $10 /night (2013 rates) with day passes at $6/day until 6 pm. The heated indoor lodging (dorm-style trailer) is $15/night – all per person. On occasion, potluck dinners are held to promote opportunities for community to meet and share meals together. Home to numerous annual festivals, some of the famous festivals like Starwood in the past, now Summerstar, Sirius Rising, Wellspring, and many other events each year. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

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Columbia Canal (Columbia, SC)

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Columbia Canal
* Columbia Riverfront Park * Columbia * South Carolina * National Register of Historic Places, No. 79002392 *

Interlaced within the heart of Columbia, South Carolina is a series of canals built in the early 1800’s by indentured Irishmen formed to provide direct water routes between the uplands and the lowlands along the fall line. Utilizing the Congaree River and Broad Rivers, it centers in the Columbia Riverfront Park where the canal is used to generate hydro-electrical power for South Carolina Electric and Gas company. Officially built in 1820 as a means for navigation and transportation along the rapids of the Broad River and Saluda river where they merge together to create the Congaree River. The canal was built in a natural ravine that existed between the city and the rivers, beginning between Lumber street (Calhoun street) and Richland street. It followed the Congaree for approximately 3 miles ending across from Granby Landing just north of the railroad bridges. Completed in 1824 it was 12 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep north of Senate street, and 18 feet wide and 4 feet deep south of there with a 8 foot wide towpath on either side. It had 4 lifting locks and a guard lock for the 34 ft descent of the river with a diversion dam across the Broad River to allow access from the Saluda Canal. Three waste tiers were built to prevent the canal from flooding, and this all linked into a separate canal called the Bull Sluice just north on the Broad River which had its own lock. By 1840 the state decided to drop its subsidy of the canal, and with the introduction of the 1842 railroads, its use declined. During the Civil war its hydro-electrical power was used to make gunpowder as well as for a grist mill run by the state penitentiary as well as a saw mill. By 1888 it was re-designed into a industrial power supply – revisions starting at Gervais street and extending 3 1/2 miles north along the Congaree and Broad Rivers, 150 feet wide and 10 feet deep with a new diversion dam, entry lock, and waste weir. In full use by 1891. Columbia Mill depended on it for textile production and was then utilized by the Columbia Hydro Plant built at its southern end producing power for the city, street railway system, and local industry.

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Loughcrew Passage Tomb

Sliabh na Caill (Mountain of the Hag), also known as Lough crew, is a infamous passage tomb is one of the four main passage tombs in Ireland next to Br na Binne, Carrowkeel and Carrowmore dating to roughly 3,300 BCE. The site consists of cruciform chambers covered by a mound structure. Within, and on the outside of kerbstones are a unique style of megalithic petroglyphs including circles, spirals, lozenge shapes, leaf shapes, radiating lines. Site has three parts – two of which are on hill tops, Carnbane East and Carnbane West, and the less preserved Patrickstown. Mythology states that it was created by a giant hag who while striding across the land, dropped her cargo of large stones from her apron as she was traveling to her home at Slieve Gullion. Local green gritstone is soft enough to carve making up the orthostats and structural stones of the monuments. In 1980, the archaeologist Martin Brennan discovered that Cairn T in Carnbane East was constructed to receive the rising sun on the Spring and Autumnal Equinoxes, shining down the passage and illuminating the rock art on the back stone. There are also alignments between Cairn L at Lough Crew, Knowth, and Dowth.

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Berkeley Springs State Park, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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Berkeley Springs State Park
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Located in the heart of downtown and main street Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is a magnificent state park based on the town’s historic mineral spa. Since pre-contact, the waters were visited for their magical, medicinal, and restorative powers. Known to cure and heal digestive disorders, stress, skin disorders, and depression. After contact and colonization of the Americas they were popular because George Washington spent five weeks bathing in them. It is the only state-run spa in the United States and operates under the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Originally the site of a 1750’s health resort, they were taken over Lord Fairfax in 1776, giving birth to the Roman bathhouses. The spring is a cool one, at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees, originating from the Oriskany Ridgeley sandstone of Warm Springs Ridge flowing with significant amounts of sulphates, nitrates, and carbonates, especially magnesium carbonates upwards of 2,000 US gallons (2,800 to 7,600 L) per minute. Common for bathers to come and visit often as well as visitors filling up their water containers.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

Named after the Celtic British place name of “Eidyn”, “Edinburgh” is one of the major centres of the Enlightenment in history, The New “Athens of the North” serves Scotland as its second largest city and Capital. It is located in the south-east of Scotland along the east coast of the Central Belt. Both of its New and Old town districts are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1995) due to its unique Medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town character with over 4,500 buildings listed. With a population of over 495,000 inhabitants it is also the governmental seat of the Scottish Parliament for all of Scotland. Most popular for its annual Edinburgh Festival, it is also home to numerous official and independent festivals that run through the month of August. The best known of these is the Fringe Festival, the largest performing arts festival in the world, as well as the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Growing in popularity are also the annual Hogmanay street party and the Beltane Fire Festival – all of which attract well over a million attendees a year and is the second most visited sightseeing hotspot in the United Kingdom. [ ~ Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=4325 ]

The first known inhabitants to the area date from early stone settlements from the Bronze age that can be found along the Craiglockhart Hill, Pentland Hills, and Holyroad. Culture and populations increased during the Iron Age, which expressed La Tene Celtic and Hallstatt cultures from central Europe. When the Romans arrived in the area, it was around 100 C.E. and the first peoples they encountered were the Votadini who were a Celtic Brythonic Tribe. By 600 C.E. the Votadini had a infamous hillfort called “Din Eidyn” where Arthur’s seat is currently located. It has since vanished. As time crawled on, the area was inhabited by the Bernicia, then the Northumbria, the English, and southeastern Scots. The stronghold was captured by King Oswald of Northumbria by 638 C.E. until 950 C.E. Indulf, Constantine the II’s son took over at that point. The town evolved from this changeover, and with King Malcolm II in 1018 C.E. the fort became the early foundations of the city it is now rather than a fort. In 1124 C.E. King David I granted the area to the Church of the Holy Rood of Edinburgh and was referred to as “Edenesburch”. By the 12th century, Edinburgh spread out from atop the castle rock and volcanic craig building down below. Then came the 16th century Scottish reformation and wars of the Covenant for 100 years. 1603 King James VI of Scotland succeeded the English throne uniting the kingdoms into the “Union of the Crowns” making Scotland a sovereign kingdom of England. This led to lots of disputes between Presbyterians and Episcopolians leading to the Bishop’s Wars in 1639, and then saw Oliver Cromwell’s damages during the Third English Civil War. The city became walled to protect it from English invasions after James IV was defeated at the Battle of the Flodden. By 1707 the Acts of Union between England and Scotland came into being, merging the countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain combining the parliaments at the same time. This led to riots as well as the infamous 1745 Jacobite rising that captured Edinburgh just before they marched into England. Defeat was seen with the Battle of the Culloden near Inverness with reprisals directed at the Catholic Highlanders. Scotland recovered and was industrialized by the 19th century. 1998 C.E. the Scotland Act was established to create a devolved Scottish parliament and Scottish Executive based in Edinburgh to govern Scotland on its own.

Within the Central Lowlands of Scotland, Edinburgh is surrounded by hills created by volcanic activity and glaciation. This leads to much mythology and geological features such as Castle Rock, Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Nor Loch, and the Salisbury Crags. As the capital to Scotland, it is divided into various areas encompassing parks, a local main street, a high street, and residential areas. The boglands from the Nor Loch were converted in 1816 to the central city parks creating the historic city center between Princes street and New Town. Old Town preserves the ancient city center, the medieval plan, and reformation era buildings including the underground. New Town was the solution in the 18th century from overcrowding.

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Congaree River, Columbia, South Carolina

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Congaree River
Columbia, South Carolina

Through the heart of Columbia, South Carolina runs a short but wide river called the “Congaree”. Flowing for approximately 47 miles, it was an important river in South Carolina and civil war history. It serves as the final outlet channel for the entire Lower Saluda and Broad river water sheds, before they merge with the Wateree River north of Lake Marion where they turn into the the majestic Santee River. This river is formed in Columbia where the Saluda and Broad rivers meet near the Piedmont fall line, and is usedd as county boundary lines for Richland, Lexington, and Calhoun counties. It is a very navigable river along a great length of it where its high water level allows barge traffic coming upstream from Charleston through the Santee and Cooper Lakes. It flows through the Congaree National Park where boat recreationists, canoes, and kayakers enjoy navigating its river streams and swamps. The River shed is popular for boating, biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, botany, and bird watching.

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Whitby Abbey

The Gothic Abbey
The Gothic Abbey, Whitby, England

The Whitby Abbey
* Abbey Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire – YO22 4JT *

I have always been drawn to the iconography of the Gothic Abbey atop the hills of Whitby, England. It is that vaguely interwoven backdrop of the gothic culture that is drawn to this city that once was home to Bram Stoker and the concept of “Dracula”. This fabulous monastic ruins was founded in 657 of the Common Era by King Oswy of Northumbria as a “double monastery” Anglo-Saxon style masterpiece housing both men and women. Equip with a decent visitor center and museum, one can walk the majestic ruins of this Yorkshire image. The 1220 Early English Gothic style ruins belong to the church of the Benedictine abbey re-founded on its site by the Normans. Embracing the sky with high richly carved pinnacle d east and north end transepts brandishing the marks of war, nature, and history as it is slowly reclaimed by the Earth. Definitely a spectacular monument not to be missed. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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It was this Abbey, belonging to the Benedictine order, that was left in ruin after the dis-establishment after the Dissolution of the Monasteries under the auspices of King Henry VIII. Now preserved, monitored, and cared for by the English Heritage with its museum housed inside the Cholmley House. One of North Yorkshire’s most memorable monuments, it has been used for numerous photo shoots, films, documentaries, and settings. Whitby was originally called “Streoneshalh” (named after Fort Bay or “Tower Bay”, of the Roman settlement that stood here first) and was home to the first Anglo-Saxon monastery here in 657 C.E. by Oswy (Oswiu), the King of Northumbria at the time. Lady Hilda, the abbess of Hartlepool Abbey, and grand-nieces of the first Christian King of Northumbria, Edwin, was appointed founding abbess of this “Streona’s Settlement”. This was a “double monastery”, managed and occupied by Celtic nuns and monks. It was also the home of the great poet Caedmon. By 867-870, the Danes led successive raids of the monastery, leaving it in ruins for almost 200 years. When Reinfrid, one of WIlliam the Conqueror’s soldiers travelled to this site as a monk, it was called “Prestebi” meaning “white settlement” in Old Norse. He founded a new monastery atop the ruins of St. Peters with two carucates of land, joined by the founder’s brother Serlo de Percy, they began Benedictine rule. In 1540, Henry VIII declared the Dissolution of Monasteries, thereby falling into destruction and ruin. Locals mined stones from its structures, leaving it but a crumbling ruin on the landscape. It however was still used as a landmark by sailors coming into port, and was heavy inspiration for Bram Stoker when writing “Dracula”. In 1914, it was shelled by German battle cruisers by a mis-fire giving it un-repairable considerable damage.

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Fontana Lake (Smokey Mountains, North Carolina)

Fontana Lake
* Smokey Mountains National Park, Fontana Dam, North Carolina *

Named after the Italian word for “fountain”, Fontana Lake is named after the flooded town of Fontana, which was the Smokey Mountains infamous lumber and copper-mining hub back in the day at the mouth of Eagle Creek. Now a reservoir contained by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River. The lake creates the southern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, separating it from the Nantahala National Forest. The depth, length, and width of the lake varies with the seasons and flood controls by the dam, but at its greatest containment measures approximately 17 miles long with a maximum elevation of approximately 1,710 feet above sea level. The lake is measured as being over 10,230 acres. The lake houses many inlets, coves, and islands formed from former mountain peaks from when it was land, especially by the eastern edge. Many hiking trails weave their ways around the lake, and the lake itself gives access to some of the more remote areas of the National Park. The apalachian trail crosses the top of the dam. Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S., is a hydro-electric dam along the Little Tennessee River that manages the lake and its levels. This was built in the 1940’s.

Cheoah Lake/River/Dam, Fontana Dam, NC

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Duffy’s Pond (near Congaree National Park), Columbia, South Carolina

Duffy’s Pond
along Old Bluff Road, enroute to Congaree National Park, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

I don’t know much about this pond historically and would welcome any local knowledge to be shared on this page.

The following are photos I took roadside:

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Congaree National Park (Columbia, South Carolina)

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Congaree National Park
100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC 29061 * Phone: (803) 783-4241 * (outside of Columbia, South Carolina) * http://www.nps.gov/cong/ *

One of the natural attractions to Columbia, South Carolina is the infamous Congaree National Park which preserves the largest tract of old growth bottom land hardwood forest that remains left in the United States. The Park is nicknamed the “Home of Champions” for its age-old hardwood trees. The park offers views of an astonishing bio-diversity along the waters from the Congaree river and the Wateree rivers throughout their flood plains. The park consists of just over 26,500 acres of national park designated as such since 2003 for some of the tallest trees leftin the Eastern United States. The Congaree river flows through the park which is dotted with wooden walkways for hikers, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts to come enjoy the woodlands and not get mucked up in the swamps and to protect the environment which is 57 percent designated wilderness area. The Park declares itself a National Designated Wilderness Area, an International Biosphere Reserve, National Natural Landmark, and a Globally Important Bird area. The park offers primitive campsites (for free), hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking, and bird watching activities. The park is inhabited by numerous wildlife ranging from a variety of fish such as bowfin, largemouth bass, panfish, and catfish onwards to alligators, snakes, feral dogs, coyotes, armadillos, turkeys, bobcat, deer, feral pigs, turtles, opossum, raccoon, and a plethera of different bird species. The Park is notable for its Bald Cypress, the tallest/largest Loblolly Pines alive today, and hardwood tree spectrum. Some of its more famous hiking trails are the Weston Lake Loop Trail (4.6 miles), Oakridge Trail (7.5 miles), King Snake Trail (11.1 miles), and the Bluff Trail (.7 miles). The Park is home to the Harry Hampton Visitor’s Center, elevated 2.4 miles of boarded walkways, and a 20 mile long marked canoe trail.

Home of a variety of plants and animals. Some researched/photographed by us as follows:

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