Photography by J. Mita Studios

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Trip To Historic Talcottville, CT. - Mt. Hope Cemetery and Pokemon Go

A trip to Historic Talcottville, CT.  – Mt. Hope Cemetery and Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is all the rage since its release in July, 2016. As a Pokemon hunter, I am always looking for great spots to find many Pokestops in a concentrated area. Of course our Connecticut college campuses have much activity and Uconn alone must have about 100 Pokestops in a few miles.

It is not always convenient to be walking side by side with college students, since I am pushing 60 and am a little self conscious of my fascination with this game. However, the next best place to go that is nearby is an historic mill site called Talcottville. It is located near the intersections of Rt. 30 and Rt. 83 in Vernon, CT. The entire street is perhaps ¾ mile long, and is quite easy to walk in a short time.

The many landscapes of the area, from old mills to churches to a large pond all seem conducive to finding a variety of Pokemon, as well as collecting 10 K eggs to hatch. There is an iron bridge near the top of the road that has a few Pokestops around it, and I am usually able to procure my 10K eggs from that area. So far I have hatched 2, a Lapras and an Electrobuzz, both 10K eggs from that area. I procured one more today as I tried gathering as many poke balls and great balls as I could for a planned trip to Niantic, CT tomorrow. My hope is since that town shares the same name as the company that created Pokemon Go, perhaps there will be unusual and rare Pokemon there. But back to Talcottville.

The amount of Pokestops on the street number about 12. When you walk down to the bottom, then back, most of the Pokestops you have spun will be ready for another spin. However, as I viewed my map screen, I saw someplace between a few roads that had another 8 stops. It appeared to be wedged between private homes, with no access to the public. What was this mystery spot and why would Niantic have placed it in the game when there seemed to be no public access?

I walked up Elm Hill Rd off of Main St, past the church up to the rails to trails dirt road. I walked up it, seeing the blue pokestops off to my right, but seeing only houses between myself and my quest. I went back to the road, and found the marker for Mt. Hope Cemetery. So there was a cemetery back there, only this was a private drive with signs that said No Trespassing and No Soliciting. There was a banner of orange plastic flags flapping at the obvious entry into the cemetery, blocking any possible way in.

The marker itself is a Pokestop, and I was able to find a charmander hanging out around the sign, so I captured this new Pokemon to gain 500 more experience points. I was not satisfied, however. I really wanted to find the cemetery.

I left in a poor mood, wondering if I should knock on the door of the houses on either side of the private drive to see if they might let me pass. I was about to call the Vernon Historical Society to ask why they had a marker for this cemetery, without a way to pass into it. Perhaps I could grab my digital SLR, tell the folks along this road that I was photographing old cemeteries and had just discovered this one and would they please let me walk the road to get to it. I puzzled over my dilemma, looking at surrounding woods just to see if I might sneak into the cemetery. All areas seemed locked by private property, and there was no large wooded expanse to hide myself in as I tried to stumble through to find my elusive target. To what length would I go to gain access to this spot?

I remembered another time I had been urban exploring down in Norwich. I walked on the street photographing the visible buildings of Norwich State Hospital,, but wanted to get into the grounds for a closer look. The state had signs and fences and its own security crew that drove through the grounds 24/7. I found a wooded trail off the main road, didn't see any signs, and followed it right down to the river. To my left was a hill that went straight up, with no fence or signs. I climbed it, camera dangling around my neck, and came to a nurses cabin. I photographed through the windows eyeing the first few buildings to my left, so close, but so open to security cars.

I continued my reconnaissance of the cabin, when indeed a security car came down the road, spotting me. I dashed off in the direction I had come, but with squealing tires, the car pulled up beside me ready to handcuff me for trespassing. From the back I looked like a teen, but when I turned toward the oldish man driving the car, he realized I was past 50. He scolded me and let me go, telling me never to come back and he would report me if he caught me there again.

I often trespass where I shouldn’t, disregarding posted signs or fences. I have been doing this all my life. It is wrong, of course, but I am not harming anything, I simply want to photograph the area or write about it, or in the case of Talcottville, look for Pokemon and collect balls from Pokestops. Still, my record is clean, I have never been arrested, and I am a little old to start. This was not helping me with my elusive cemetery.

I went off to do my chores in Manchester, the whole time my lack of access to this rich area of Pokestops eating at me. I had to find a way in. Maybe there was another way, perhaps a little used trail closer to Rt. 83, or maybe another road in. Most cemeteries do have two ways in and out, even the oldest ones.

I went back to Talcottville, slowly following Main St back up to the top. Just past 106 Main St which was an old white clapboard house built around 1870, I saw a narrow road between 106 and 102. Was it a private driveway? I could not see how far it went, or if there was a house nestled beyond the tree lined road. I decided to chance it.

As I drove over a hill on the road and rounded a bend, there before me was the other way in to the cemetery. It was a private road, but open from sunrise to sunset as most cemeteries are. The banner of orange flags blocking the road that went into the cemetery was not a problem. I parked off to the side and walked in, at last finding my quest.

If you look at this map, the oval in the center is the cemetery. The road from Elm Hill Rd. Is a private drive without access, but the second road just about 8 houses up from the turn onto Main St is the way in to this rich area of Pokestops.

The cemetery is very secluded. If there is a spooky cemetery, this is it. The hillocks with grave markers on them are overgrown with tall grasses. You can’t help but catch a smell that is usually saved for wakes and funerals at funeral homes. It is the smell I always connect to death, a sweetish smell that reminds me of how skin must smell in the first few days of passing. Perhaps it is the smell of embalming fluid, or maybe the flowers, but the smell is unmistakeable. I could not understand why I could smell death. There were no new graves that had been dug, and there was no mausoleum. I scanned the cemetery and could only attribute it to an old fashioned hydrangea tree growing on the far side of the area.

I could imagine ghosts and disembodied spirits rising from these graves at night in the moonlight. I shuddered as I spun my first Pokestop at the entrance of the cemetery.

I walked toward the hydrangea eyeing the very old gravestones, then started toward the other side, spinning two more Pokestops.

The smell changed to an earth scent, as if I was crossing over a deep unmarked grave filled with old decayed bones that had been coated with moss. I started looking over my shoulder, at the woods, hearing a singing somewhere off of the road leading up to it. It was a drifty, eerie kind of song in a language I could not understand.  The neck hairs began to lift below my long hair, and I wanted to get all the Pokestops as fast as I could. I twirled two more stops, then crossed through some shaggy looking cedar type trees.

The smell changed to distinctive peppermint, another smell that I relate to solemn occasions in churches. As a child, when I had to attend my first funeral, my uncle gave me peppermint to settle my stomach. The scent was in his clothes as well. The peppermint smell lasted as I spun my last few Pokestops, then I rapidly went back to the car. The singing had stopped, I had gotten another 10K egg from this area, and I was mixed with my accomplishment of finding the cemetery and the cloud of death that hung over it. I have never smelled these smells at any other old cemetery I have visited, and I explore many.

If you decide to approach this area as you play Pokemon Go, do not go alone and do not go at night. You may find Haunters and Ghastly’s drifting above the graves, and perhaps even a few ghostly spirits from the past as they do a walk about in the moonlight.

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