My Walk of Easton’s Railroad Line, Continued. From Old Easton Center Depot to Former Taunton-Raynham Greyhound Park.
I set out from Fernandes Lumber and Home Center about midday, the temperature was 50 degrees. Crossing Depot Street, I followed the path into the woods. Soon I came to a split where the path separated into two, one continuing to Purchase Street- which I took- and the other off to the east. The path was clear, easy to walk, and I observed footprints, dog prints and ATV tracks. I came across one leftover piece of track. It must have been forgotten when the tracks south of the Depot Street Station were removed, sometime before 1968. I crossed Purchase Street and continued toward Prospect. This stretch was uneventful. Shortly after crossing Prospect, I found myself between Pine Oaks Golf Course and Easton Country Club. To both sides were well-groomed greens and a handful of golfers. While I was passing through the course the ground was like a small roller coaster, up and down, perhaps connected to drainage? I crossed a wooden bridge at one point.
Wooden bridge. Easton Country Club is to my left as I walk south.
View of Pine Oaks green to my right.
Once I was clear of the golf courses, I was aware of water off to the east and the west. To the east lay the cranberry bogs and Little Cedar Swamp. To the west Black Brook. When I reached Foundry Street there was the distinct smell of skunk in the air. I stopped here for the day. I wanted company on the remainder of my journey.
A week later I set out with a friend and two dogs to complete my walk. It was sunny but cooler, about 44 degrees. The path was clear but wet wherever there was a depression in the ground which was regularly. It was not too difficult to walk around the wet areas and the dogs were happy to walk right through. After passing behind the Southeastern Regional School we were isolated. Not too far along we came upon some good-sized deer prints. Further on, a large deer crossed the path ahead of us. Too quickly for a photo.
View of Regional School to my left as I walk south.
As we headed further into the Hockomock Swamp, a few facts. The Hockomock Swamp, covering 16,950-acres and spanning six towns, including Easton, is considered the largest freshwater swamp in the state. ‘Hockomock’ is an Algonquin term meaning ‘the place where spirits dwell’. Indigenous people hunted here and used it as a sacred burial site. The Wampanoag feared and worshiped the god ‘Hobomock’ who was made up of the souls of the dead and liked to gather in places like the Hockomock. It serves as the headwaters of the Town River which flows into the Taunton River. The swamp is home to at least thirteen rare and endangered species and is of archeological importance. While greatly valued by the indigenous peoples, the first European settlers were proponents of draining the swamp for agricultural purposes. Chaffin himself agreed with this.
There are many and various tales of supernatural events occurring in the Hockomock. I’d hoped my walk would be drama free. There was one unusual occurrence. Shortly after the deer crossed ahead of us, a bird with a large wingspan appeared in the air ahead of us down the path, perhaps 20 yards away. From where we stood the wingspan appeared as wide as the path. We were both sure it was just a bird but also pretty sure it wasn’t a hawk. Perhaps a falcon? I don’t think it was the legendary ‘giant creature over six feet tall that resembled a bird’. It was quickly gone. Bit of a mystery.
Bridge and evidence of a double track. This was toward the end of our walk. We parked one of our cars behind the old Taunton-Raynham Greyhound Track and stopped walking there
We came upon a clearing where the power lines ran through and there was more evidence of ATV activity. In some areas the undergrowth was dense, in others less so. We passed three bridges that spanned the waters of Black Brook, the main branch of which was to our east. A good way into our journey there was evidence of a double railway track. The path split and a line of young trees ran down the middle. Overall, the walk was very nice but anticlimactic.
The Hockomock wasn’t as intimidating as I’d envisioned. At night, in the rain, or off the path, I’m sure it would be. Although we still can’t definitively explain that big bird!
In granite cold, I
Fragments of old tracks
Anne Wooster Drury
Anne Wooster Drury