Upton hidden gem: Heritage Park
Town-owned property includes mysterious “Upton Chamber”
By Theresa Knapp
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, you can easily drive past the galvanized metal gate at 18 Elm Street that leads to Heritage Park, a seven-acre parcel of now conservation land the town purchased in 2006.
According to the welcome kiosk as you enter the site, the park opened in 2012 and is part of the Pratt Hill-Upton Chamber District which is a “discontinuous historic district that is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places…for its role in the religious and cultural traditions of three tribes: the Narragansett Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
The property is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and offers “hiking, nature study, biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding and other non-motorized, passive outdoor and recreational and educational activities and other pursuits that do not damage the land or impair other people’s enjoyment.”
Highlights of the property include a scenic walkway over a bubbling brook, views of Mill Pond, wooded and open trails, and of course the long-mysterious “Upton Cave” or “Upton Chamber,” the entrance to which was restored in 2011.
According to the town website (bit.ly/UptonHeritagePark), “The Upton Cave has been described as one of the largest and most perfectly built of more than 300 stone chambers found throughout the Northeast. A six-foot-high, fourteen-foot-long tunnel leads into a hillside, to a beehive-shaped domed chamber of quarried stone measuring about twelve feet across and eleven feet high. The cave is topped with several large oval stones believed to weigh several tons each.”
To be inside the cave is awe-inspiring and may pique your curiosity as to the origin of the structure www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com calls the “largest and probably best known stone chamber in Massachusetts,” and www.stonestructures.org dates back to 1350 to 1625 A.D. (that site also says the chamber was first featured in William Goodwin’s 1946 book "The Ruins of Great Ireland in New England.”
For more information on the site, visit bit.ly/UptonHeritagePark. To utilize the land for private functions (including weddings), visit bit.ly/HeritageParkRequest