"Harwinton's Lead Mine"

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 a mine.

None-the-less, the 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 the legend.

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 township."

William Domonell 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