|Photo Credits: Marash Boy|
A surprise phone call on a snow flurried Sunday morning sent Marash Boy and Marash Girl driving west on the Massachusetts Turnpike to Sturbridge, Massachusetts, to meet Karoun (of Karoun Yoga) for a walk in the woods, a walk in the woods that held surprises. . . an open abandoned lead mine, stalagmites and stalctites in the making, an uncrossable stream, and miles of walkable snow covered paths.
|Open entrance to lead mine in Sturbridge, Massachusetts|
|Yawning entrance to second lead mine at Tantiusques|
on the walk, as water dripped down from the roof of the open mine.
|The uncrossable stream . . .|
About Tantiusques, Leadmine Road, Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Tantiusques (“tan-te-us-quays”) – a Nipmuc word meaning “to a black deposit between two hills” – was the center of one of New England's first mining operations.
The Nipmuc originally mined here for graphite to make ceremonial paints. In 1644, John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, purchased the mine with hopes of extracting lead and iron. In the early 19th century, Captain Joseph Dixon and his son worked here before founding the J. D. Crucible Company of New Jersey, famous manufacturers of pencils.
Today, careful observers can see the mine cuts, ditches, and tailings piles made by the various mining operations. The mineshaft that tunnels into the face of the low ridge is the most recent of all the excavations, dating to 1902. Most of the mining at Tantiusques was of the open trench variety. The cut along the top of the ridge is the partially filled-in remainder of what was once a several thousand foot-long trench, 20 to 50 feet in depth and roughly 6 feet in width, which followed the vein of graphite."
Marash Girl wonders if the painting of faces by the Nipmuc using graphite based paints, and the leaching of the lead from the mines into the nearby lake, led to the early demise of many of the Nipmuc Native American Indians living near the mines.