“It’s a great place just to wander,” says Merle Schotanus, Grantham town moderator and a former Forest Society trustee who spearheaded fundraising efforts to save the land.
Schotanus has wandered through here on foot and by snowmobile (a warming hut maintained by the Blue Mountain Snowdusters snowmobile club sits at the midway point of the approximately 1.5-mile trail). He has seen deer here, and grouse, listened to barred owls and admired dog-tooth violets and trillium.
From a Forest Society kiosk and parking area off Route10 on the south end of Grantham village, a bisect cuts across the heart of these 428 acres. The forested trail – segments of an old logging road that connect to an old Class VI road – rises to a head of land and plateaus before heading down the eastern slope to Route 114. A more extensive trail system is in the works.
Siblings Mike Reney and Lena Cote turned down an offer from a developer in favor of selling this land to the Forest Society at a fraction of its appraised value. The tract’s name honors their parents.
The old Class VI road leads up Barton Hill to farmsteads long-since crumbled; squares on an old postal map record that the families of G.B. Barton and N. Clough once lived here. Now just cellar holes remain.
Twin stone walls ascend the hill, marking the bounds of the old roadway.
Schotanus wandered this land once with a native to Grantham, a man who knew what it was to construct these miles of walls. He laughs, remembering the old man’s words:
“Men didn’t build those stone walls. Rum and oxen built those stone walls.”