I had been tipped off about the existence of the swamp monument weeks earlier, but decided to visit Walmart for some fluorescent gear first when I found that it was a hunting area and it was required. I was told that the monument at its end was also known as Indian Monument and was erected to memorialize some Indian war from the colonial era, but I could find no information online about it.
Then in late March I decided to first visit Cocumscussoc State Park, but it was difficult to find an entrance. Some maps showed it recessed behind residential property far from any streets except for a single, narrow connection to the main road. Other maps gave it two narrow connections. Other maps showed it enveloping one of the side streets. It was as if the park existed in some sort of quantum superposition of states measured differently depending on what map one used. The northmost connection I was unable to find. The eastmost connection I narrowed down to a small area where every single point along the road was clearly part of someone’s yard except for a single driveway heading into the woods. This was absolutely the only place the park could have been.
I thought I would stop at the tourist information building immediately adjacent to the driveway for some maps and suggestions of where else to visit before I walked up the driveway, but the lady inside insisted it was not the entrance after all. She seemed very keen to talk me out of ever visiting the place, claiming it had no trails, was too dense with foliage to navigate, and was infested with ticks. After looking through the pamphlets, I decided to visit the swamp monument after all.
Heading south on Route Two, I briefly stopped at the Barber Pond Fishing Area. This is a tiny spot on the side of the road with two benches and a picnic table next to a beautiful blue pond. It was nice, but it was too cold and windy to stay long.
Next I stopped at the end of Swamp Monument road and took the trail into the woods. The main trail is a raised, grassy road about a mile long. From there I could only see trees forever, lending a feeling of calming isolation. The only sound was the breeze and my own feet. Most trees lacked leaves still, but there was some Holly here and there.
Only in the final third of the trail does the surrounding area become swampy. Then I saw the monument. It stands maybe 20-25 feet high and is a single stone. On the side it mentions some war from the seventeenth century. It is surrounded by four boulders on which are carved the names Masachvsetts, Connecticvt, Plymovth, and Rhode Island. There is also a flat stone in front giving some additional information, but it is nearly illegible. The place seems very nearly forgotten. I say nearly, because I did happen to run into one lady with a dog while I was there.
From the monument clearing a trail runs west until it skims the northern edge of the Great Swamp Wildlife Reservation. I knew this because as isolated as it seemed out there, I still had a cellular signal and I was curious how close I was getting. I thought that maybe the trail might be a back way into the reservation, which might be helpful to know if I ever got trapped there or something (I really just like to know stuff for no reason). Unfortunately, the trail became impassibly mucky after maybe fifty feet and I turned back.
Nearer to the entrance I saw another trail heading east. This one also skimmed along the northern edge of the GSWR. It was a bit overgrown, but passable, and I made it a couple hundred feet before reaching a very large puddle I was not in the mood to tangle with. There were more leaves here and it was shadier. There were even patches of snow still left where sunlight did not reach. After marking my territory in the name of the empire, I returned to the car.
Since it had been a shorter day than I had planned on, I attempted again to visit a bookstore that had been closed the last time I was there. It was closed again. This is not the only place that seems to have staffing problems and an irregular schedule. There is also a pizza place closer to home I had been curious about that is always closed when I go. Also, Ryan Park does not show up on any map and I only found it because I happened to drive by one of its entrances one day. Now I can’t find a way into Cocumscussoc Park even though it is on the map. I’m beginning to think that Rhode Island doesn’t want me here. At least I found the swamp monument!
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.