Friday, November 10, 2023

The Ruins of Grafton | Enchanted Island

The Ruins of Grafton: Enchanted Islan By John Bulmer, John Bulmer Photography

In the course of writing my piece on the Ruins of Grafton, I actively reached out to individuals who could assist me in tracing the former owners of some of the abandoned properties I stumbled upon during my Park explorations. A significant breakthrough happened when I received a Facebook comment from an individual with a personal connection to the area. This person had grown up in a residence along Long Pond Road, only to receive a letter in 1968 informing her family of the need to relocate, making way for the establishment of a new state park. The house, once an imposing figure in her childhood memories, now seemed remarkably smaller upon revisiting. "When I was a kid, the house looked huge; now, when I go there, I see how small everything really was!"

Her vivid recounting detailed a quaint, white, three-bedroom ranch with teal shutters, featuring a semi-circle driveway adorned with an oak at its center. The back of the house led to a path leading to the lake, complete with a dock for swimming. The most intriguing aspect was an etching in the foundation, bearing the words "Enchanted Island." Determined to uncover this detail, I set out on a mission.

Graciously, she provided directions to the site of her former childhood home. Within a few hours, I found myself standing within the interior of what used to be the kitchen. If you followed my initial coverage of the Park's ruins, you may recall a prominent fieldstone fireplace in the forest. This site mirrored my first abandoned homestead, albeit weathered by time. The fireplace lay fallen, its base forward and the chimney backward, yet the distinctive construction and craftsmanship remained undeniable, this one appeared to be a twin of my first discovery. Navigating an overgrown path to the lake, I discovered a grand stone gate and a hand-built stone bridge spanning a creek.

Upon returning to the house, my focus shifted to locating the etching in the foundation. After messaging back and forth, my contact asked me to call her. She directed me to the general area of the words in the concrete, sharing stories of her time as a full-time resident, enduring winters, and the revelation of eminent domain. She painted a vivid picture of a once-thriving community of summer camps and residences within the park. Although she departed in 1968, many household items from these sites endured the harshness of 54 winters. Some sites fell victim to state intervention, while others were left to be reclaimed by the encroaching forest.

To date, I have documented four abandoned homesteads, and four fieldstone fireplaces, some of which are not associated with any known home sites, extensive stone walls, numerous footings, and the remnants of utilities guiding the way to these sites. Evidence of this community is scattered throughout the Park—enchanted islands gradually succumbing to moss, seasons of leaves, and the unyielding march of the forest.

Sincere thank you to D for providing me with careful directions, and most importantly, your memories.

© 2023 John Bulmer Media, John Bulmer Photography.