Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Heublein Tower Revisited

This past Thanksgiving Day I hiked up Talcott Mountain in Bloomfield, Connecticut and revisited Heublein Tower which is located at the top of the mountain and affords a panoramic view of the Farmington River Valley. In the Summer of 1974 I had a Summer job as a park patrolman at this state park. Part of the job was to inform the visitors of the history of this castle like building which was the residence of Gilbert and Louis Heublein. You may recall that Heublein was the purveyor of some famous brands such as Smirnoff Vodka, Black Velvet Whiskey, A1 Steak sauce, and that finger lickin' good fried chicken made with the secret recipe of herbs and spices by that Colonel from Kentucky. Visitors could climb this tower to an observation deck for the spectacular view. My co-workers and I would sometimes climb up even higher in the tower as there is a pull down stairway above the observation deck level so that we could go near the very top of this 165 foot tower. It is said by some that on a clear day from the top of the tower you could see Boston! Of course these same people may also say that the moon surface is made of Parmesan cheese flakes and in both instances these people are wrong; but you can see quite a distance and for sure you can see Hartford. Many people used to hang glide off the nearby cliffs and often we could see hawks soaring with the wind currents found near the cliffs.
Another part of my job that Summer was to patrol the trails through the woods either on foot or on the Honda 90 supercharged motorcycle that was provided to maintain law and order in the park. All and all not the worst place to be for a job and probably not the worst job in the world.

Thirty-five years after my Summer at the tower I noticed a few changes. The hiking trail is a lot wider than it used to be and large portions of the trail up the mountain from the base now have a small crushed stone surface whereas 35 years ago the trail was more "natural" with a bunch of rocks, boulders, and small streams of water running across the hiking trail. Yes, the trail is more "civilized" and perhaps more "wimpified" than the frontier days of the 1970's which I guess is kind of like life in general as over the years too many people probably fell and skinned their knees and thought it would be fun to sue the State for their clumsiness. There are now modern toilets at the base and summit of the trail but the view hasn't changed as far as I could see. Back in the 70's the State police and the FBI had communication antenna's up at the tower but I doubt that they still have these antennas today with the advent of cell phones.

All in all the tower and trail haven't changed too much over the years and Talcott Mountain State Park is still a fun place to take a hike.