Since the 1730's
there has been much speculation on the existence of
a lead deposit along the banks of a small brook within
the town. Any young man growing up here, has undoubtedly
had the urge to try to discover the long lost lead mine,
which some speculate, may only exist in legend.
As a child who grew up on South Road, I spent
many hours on the sides of Lead Mine Brook drowning
worms in search of the elusive brook trout. I remember
the stream being dominated by those pesky horned-dace
who would grab a worm the second it hit the water. These
dace all seemed to have a strange growths (little raised
spots) around their heads that, well would cause one
to wonder, if this was a mutation caused by an abundance
of lead in the river?
I walked both sides
of the river many times between the old swimming hole
and the center bridge and never saw anything resembling
legend of a lost lead mine will forever exist in our
history and young boys of tomorrow will undoubtedly
search for the huge rock, supposedly made of nearly
solid lead, which legend says lays along the river somewhere.
Mr. William G. Domonell
wrote an article in 1993 that is available on the Internet,
and seems to be the most comprehensive manuscript regarding
He found that both
early Indian lore and that of our first settlers speculate
on the deposits of both black lead (graphite or plumbago)
and a huge block of lead (galena) that existed along
the banks of the brook. The Indian version of the story
would have us believe that "there were vast deposits
of lead deposits of such richness that huge blocks of
it had been forted through the surface of the ground."
In Chipman's History
of Harwinton, he relates how early traditions tell of
" a vast aggregation of lead in a natural condition
so pure as to be malleable without previous fusion."
He stated that "it's location was in the highlands
situated in the eastern and southern portions of the
wrote that "the Rev. E.B. Hilliard in 1881 said
that it's location was a little north of the Harwinton
town line, on the east side half a mile back of the
highway running past the house of Alfred Cleveland,
in the woods." Hilliard spoke of blasting marks
on rocks that had to signify the occurrence of mining
in that area. His area would be on Plymouth Road between
the State Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.)
headquarters and Rocky Road East. The late Raymond Bentley,
during an interview with William Domonell, stated that
he had also seen the marks on the rocks.
There is a map,
which seems to be vintage 1879 (see the navigation bars
on this Web site) that clearly shows a shaded area titled
"Lead Mine". A search of that area by many
townspeople has revealed nothing.
So where is the
mine? Did it ever exist? The questions will probably
continue to be unanswered for many more years, but that
is what legends are made of, unanswered questions.
To view William
G. Domonell's interesting documentation on "The
Harwinton Lead Mines" click on the icon below