Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Oldest child and only daughter today successfully navigated the perils of two of the world's largest airports and arrived safe and sound in NY. She is on her way to Southbury, CT to while away a few days with her friends. We spent five years in Southbury and although the winters were long and dreary, we enjoyed our time there.

Hidden back in the Southbury hills about a half mile from Main Street is the Platt Farm. Situated on Flood Bridge Road, you can find it via South Britain Road, or by turning off Main Street. I always preferred the latter because you get to see what contraptions Chainsaws Unlimited might have for sale out front. On Flood Bridge Road you cross the Pomperaug River and after the summer cottages (now year round homes) you bear left down a one lane gravel road. The Pomperaug is known to flood, hence the road name. After about 400 yards, you emerge from the forest of maples and the approach to the Platt Farm, while not stunning in a Niagara sense, is really surprisingly pretty.

The Platt Farm, Southbury, CT

Two minutes ago you were in a busy town, now a perfect little New England farm scene unfolds from the hills before you. Rolling meadows, green hills, big trees, white rail fences, red barns, a Colonial style house... Check, check, check. Platt Farm has it all.

It is situated on maybe 120 acres. A good chunk of the property is now managed by the Southbury Land Trust and is open to the public. Hardly anyone goes there - I used to park at the first field gate and walk up to the top of the hill - it is steep and unless super fit, you will have to catch a breather here and there. And what a view there is of the rolling wooded hills and off to the west the Housatonic River and Newtown. I always said to Mrs B. that if we ever win the lottery, we would buy this idyllic little farm. In 1781, Rochambeau's troops while on their way to join forces with Washington, camped in the vicinity. I am no American Revolution history buff, so I will quit this subject while ahead... but note that Chief Pomperaug roamed free and hunted here long before any French, English, Irish or indeed Russian.

Speaking of which, about 1.5 miles west of the Platt Farm is the Russian Village. In the mid-1920's, the son of Leo Tolstoy moved here (from NYC?), apparently to set up an artists community. It probably numbered only a few dozen people at its peak for it covers just a few heavily wooded acres on the hillside. No sign of a village per se, but one of the roads is Kiev Drive. The most intriguing remainder of the village is the tiny Russian Orthodox Church - see pic below. The door was open one day as I went by and of course I had to take a gander inside. As they say "not enough room to swing a cat" within. One room, perhaps 12' x 12'.

The petite Orthodox Church at the Russian Village, Southbury, CT

About another half mile west along River Road is the Housatonic River. Here on a small beach in 1986 was found the remains of Helle Crafts, murdered by her husband who fed her body through a rented wood chipper. Did you think the Coens came up with that scene in Fargo by themselves? Helle's husband Richard was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in jail. The police used the rental receipt found in Richard's house and Helle's dental work to convict him.

Interesting history along about a two mile stretch of Connecticut by-ways.

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