Exploring The Last Green Valley – Walktober highlights include W. Thompson Lake, eccentric local

Walktober highlights include W. Thompson Lake, eccentric local

What do Nathan Hale Homestead, French River, JN Webster Scout Camp, Uncas Leap, Leffingwell Museum, Shetucket River, Roseland Cottage, Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm, West Thompson Lake, Nipmuck Trail Pixie Falls and Mount Misery all have in common?

They are all locations for Walktober walks, paddles and experiences this weekend. They are part of 42 experiences happening today and Sunday right here in The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.

I want to make special mention of the program on Sunday at West Thompson Lake. The 1.5-mile walk is from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., starts at the trail head at 449 Reardon Road, Thompson, and is being led by a US Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger.

You are invited to “Visit an old historic farmstead and take a walk back in time to the early 1700s. Learn about the Ramsdell family, interesting personalities who lived there until the mid-1900s.”

The Last Green Valley has partnered with the park rangers at West Thompson Lake on many occasions and we are proud of our association with the dedicated staff at each of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ project locations within our 35-town National Heritage Corridor.

West Thompson holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. One of my favorite paddles on the Quinebaug River is the scenic river stretch from Fabyan to West Thompson Lake.

The land surrounding West Thompson Lake provides exceptional hiking opportunities and the facilities maintained by the park tangers include a disk golf course, campground and pavilion buildings available for rental.

West Thompson was also the home of Alice Ramsdell, one of the more interesting people who lived in our region and the subject of Sunday’s Walktober walk.

Ramsdell is also listed in The Last Green Valley publication, “Notables and Notorious: Historically Interesting People from The Last Green Valley.” Here is an excerpt from that publication:

“An active and eccentric citizen of Thompson, Alice Ramsdell lived on a farm near the banks of the Quinebaug River. The property was settled by her great-grandfather, Hezekiah Ramsdell, and she had strong feelings about her heritage. Alice was an enthusiastic and loyal member of the Thompson Historical Society and she frequently attended programs about history in other towns where she was always a supportive voice for regional heritage preservation.

“Alice was a practical farmer, bringing the chickens and lambs into her house during cold weather. She milked by hand. Her father had acquired a railroad engine, boxcar, and caboose which passed to her on his death. He would never sell his collection and neither would she.

“In the 1960s, after the tragic flood of 1955, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed several flood control sites. One was on the Quinebaug River in West Thompson. A small village was removed and the Ramsdell Homestead was the last slated for demolition.

“Alice met the Army Corps and their eviction notice with a shotgun. She refused to leave her home and, after some negotiation, the Army Corps agreed she could remain until her death if she paid a small land lease. Thus by her tenacity and love for her home, Alice Ramsdell became the first person in the history of flood control in New England to take on the U.S. Army Corps and win.”

Ramsdell is one of several interesting people that made The Last Green Valley home. I hope you will consider checking out her story and that of her family at West Thompson Lake.

I hope to see you at one of our many Walktober offerings this month. This year there are more than 270 Walktober opportunities to get outdoors, learn and be amazed at the cultural and natural resources we have in our region.

If you don’t have a Walktober guide, you can download it by going to The Last Green Valley website thelastgreenvalley.org and clicking on the Explore tab and then the Walktober tab. You’ll want to check out The Last Green Valley Facebook page as well for updates.

We live in a beautiful region full of history and scenic natural beauty. I hope you’ll join us during Walktober and learn more about this special place we call home.

Bill Reid is chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 30 years. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org.

The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the preceding article. The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.