The Road in Macedonia Park
by Dave Dunleavy
Some call it the Road to Nowhere. Built over a two-year period, the “high road” that parallels Macedonia Brook Road is an impressive two-mile thoroughfare that was built along the eastern base of Cobble Mountain.
What makes the road so outstanding is that its solid workmanship was performed by young men who had little skill in road construction other than the ability to perform hard labor day in and day out. But 75 years after its completion, the craftsmanship has mostly survived the ravages of Mother Nature and a forest that has grown up around it.
The road was one of thousands of projects that were built throughout the United States as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was the brainchild of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was meant to give work and meaning to hundreds of thousands of Americans and those families still struggling from the effects of the Great Depression.
The CCC not only built roads. Programs included erosion control, tree planting, bridge construction, stream improvement, foot trails, airport landing fields, insect control and even predator eradication. The majority of the work took place in remote areas to improve rural lands.
Today, the CCC road in Macedonia is used mainly for hiking and cross-country skiing. When it was built from 1935-1937 the purpose was to take traffic off of narrow and occasionally steep Macedonia Brook Road. That road cut through Macedonia Brook State Park, as it does today, but there were periods, especially in the spring when it was impassible due to muddy conditions. And brook washouts weren’t uncommon.
The new road would allow safer passage to motorists on their way north to Sharon and New York State. Ironically, there are no records to indicate that the road was ever open to traffic. No grand opening announcement and no evidence that cars ever used the route.
“The government liked grand openings and ribbon-cutting ceremonies,” said Bill Bachrach, a Kent Historical Society member. “I still haven’t found anything yet to show that the road was ever opened.”
The present route was built in sections. Land had to be cleared but most importantly solid stone walls had to be erected to keep the road from washing across Macedonia Brook Road. Young laborers between the ages of 18 to 25, built those fortifying walls. In some places the walls reach 14 feet in height with large boulders set at the base.
Despite the rugged terrain only two sections of the wall have breached and those were fixed three years ago thanks to a $75,000 federal stimulus grant originally secured by former Gov. Jodi Rell.
Stone was collected from natural “slides” at the base of Cobble Mountain by approximately 40 workers who labored daily. One such worker, Charlie Bigelow, came back to Kent in April of 2012 to visit the roadway and to give a public talk on the CCC in Kent.
“We had a small bulldozer, air compressor and dump trucks,” said Bigelow, 92 who now lives in Enfield. “I helped load the trucks with rocks we gathered in the woods. To this day I still have back problems that I attribute to that hard work.
“On the job we had to use a lot of dynamite. One guy, Joe Gories from New Britain, was in charge. He got paid a little extra for his work. Just before they lit the charge I had to go to a safe area. Then they’d yell “fire in the hole.”