Archive for the ‘Chicopee River – Water Street’ Category

This is a section of the Chicopee River I had to seek out after hearing my dad talk about Indian Leap… Indian Leap? What was that about?  I believe when I was a kid he told me that there were Indians that died there.  He told me there was a side street call Indian Leap that previously led to a bridge over the river.  So one Sunday I took a ride with Don and Megan to check it out. Sure enough there was a very high bridge abutment and a cliff equally as high on the other side.  We just had to get down on the river!  So, checking out the map we found a very nice boat launch on Water Street.  The  launch and parking area (no trailers) is just above a good size dam, high and long.

Alice gets the shot!

This section of river, like many other sections of the Chicopee is “Class A Beautiful”.  Lush green on both sides as you paddle up river.  There are always Cormorants on the river. Here is my neighbor Alice snapping a shot.  You feel like you’re on a lake in the section above the dam and as you get closer to the other end you’re thinking it’s a dead end, but then you come upon the cliff, Indian Leap!   You know there are still kids jumping off the cliffs although I’ve not seen anyone.  As we are now down on the water we are looking along the cliff into the water there’s one interesting danger, it’s an old car that took a tumble over the edge.  Looks like an old rusty roadster.  Hopefully no one will jump onto  it!

Looking for the history Indian Leap I found this…

The History of Ludlow Massachusetts – With Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Reminiscences, Genealogies, Farm Histories, and an Account of the Centennial Celebration, June 17, 1874


After the destruction of Springfield by fire, October 4, 1675, the warriors retreated eastward six miles, as we are informed by the annalists. The place of their encampment is said to have been on the peninsula, in the south part of the town, known as the Indian Leap, where twenty-four smoldering camp fires and some abandoned plunder were all the vestiges remaining the next morning.


Of course, the story of all stories concerning the Indians, within the limits of the present town, is the familiar one respecting the leap of Roaring Thunder and his men, in the time of King Philip’s war. Although the account is wholly legendary, there is therewith so fine a flavor of the aboriginal, that it has ever been popular among those fond of folklore. It is reported that the band of warriors was camping on the sequestered peninsula, lulled into quiet by the sound of the roaring fall of water, precipitously tumbling scores of feet over the rocks, within a half mile of the stream bed. Some aver, that upon this point there were spread the wigwams of the Indians, and quite a company of them made the place their home; that at the time these tragic events occurred, the red men had captured one of the women from Masacksick (Longmeadow), and were pursued by the intrepid settlers, and finally discovered in their rude home on the banks of the river. In the midst of their quiet and solitude, came the alarm that the white men were closely following up their trail into the thicket. There was no retreat. They had taught the paleface the meaning of “no quarter,” and could expect naught but retaliation. Only one way of escape presented itself, and that was into the jaws of death. To the brink of the fearful precipice, then, before the backwaters of the corporation pond had reduced the distance a hundred feet, did the painted braves dash on, and over into the wild waters and upon the ragged rocks they leaped, directly into the arms of hungry death. Roaring Thunder is said to have watched while each of his company leaped into the frightful chasm, and then, taking his child high in his arms, casting one glance back upon the wigwam homes, he followed the rest into the rushing waters. The pursuers looked, wonderingly, over the jutting sandstone walls; but one living redskin met their eyes, and he was disappearing among the inaccessible forest trees, which skirted the other shore.

There have been received two accounts of the Indian Leap affair; one from Hon. G. M. Fisk of Palmer…  The little island near the Leap was said to be the place where the Indians sat around their council fires and judged their captives. There used to be a cave in the rocks where, it was said, the chief had his headquarters, and I believe to this day there is a sort of hole in the ledge where the Indians pounded their corn.

The story was that a party of Indians had assembled on the island to judge a captive, when they were surprised by the whites, fled to the shore, leaving in their haste their weapons behind them, and betook themselves to the little peninsula forming the Indian Leap. Here they were trapped, as there was no alternative but surrender or plunge down the precipice. They hesitated a moment, when the old chief took his little son in his arms, gave the war- whoop and plunged down the precipice. The rest followed, and all were killed except a squaw, who caught on an overhanging limb, but a shot from the pursuing party put an end to her.

So, dad was right, there is some history behind Indian Leap!  Now keep those Indians in mind as you continue up the winding river.  Maybe they are watching from behind the trees!!!   As you get closer to the Ludlow Dam the river gets shallow.  If you can make it close to the dam in low water you’ll be rewarded with wonderful Glacial Potholes! And you thought you had to go to Shelburn Falls to see them?  They are not as big but they are very nice.   With so much expose stone here it appears to be a favorite hang out for birds of pray.  We’ve seen Eagles and Red Tail Hawks on most of our visits.  There are a few side channels and to explore and the island that’s mentioned in the Indian story above.  When they were in command of the river we should keep in mind that it was a much different.  How much the dams have changed the river!  I’ve read that the Chicopee River drops 260 feet from it’s headwaters to it’s final destination, The Connecticut River.  I know of about eight of them in my travels over the past eight wonderful years.

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