Friday, July 17, 2015

The Echo Lake Stone Lodge- More Features Examined

The Echo Lake Stone Lodge- More Features Examined 

The Echo Lake Stone Lodge, or Chamber, is a very unique and special stone structure located by modern-day Echo Lake by the Hopkinton and Milford MA. town lines (with the town line of Holliston also being down the street.)  Although Echo Lake itself was created in more modern times by the construction of a dam, the water-ways here that were dammed-up are actually the head-waters of three very large and important river systems- the Charles River, the Blackstone River and the Sudbury River.  It is at such a place, at the headwaters/ confluence of water ways, or where "water flows in two or more directions" that would have held very important ceremonial significance to Native people in the past- be it meeting places between different clans and tribal nations of people congregating together seasonally, etc.
The entire area around Echo Lake, which I call the "Greater Echo Lake Area" is a hot-spot for stone-works of a Native origin.  The stone shrine with the winter solstice sunrise alignment (and probably a summer solstice sunset alignment from another angle which I have not documented) which I found on one of my hikes is also found within this broader general area.  Many stoneworks featured in this blog such as cairns, propped boulders, rock alignments, etc. can be found in this general area.  And the reason for the heavy volume of stone-works, no doubt, is related to the confluence/ headwaters of the river systems in the area as lived through and experienced by Native people long ago.  
I should also say for the record, that in the late 19th to early/mid twentieth century there were quarries in this area that were quite active.  Milford Pink Granite (and other granite) was quarried here as a resource/ building material.  Here is info on 'Milford Pink' from wikipedia-  However, I discovered in the Hopkinton Town Library that in the mid-19th century before quarrying started for Milford Pink, small amounts of gold was found in several places around modern-day downtown Hopkinton (next door to Milford).  I found no information that confirms this, but I suspect there is a direct link between people having found that small, miniscule amount of gold in Hopkinton and the start of the Milford Quarries.  For instance, after no more gold was found, they probably discovered another raw material they could use as a resource in the Milford Pink Granite.
Now, one disturbing fact that I will relate to the quarrying and quarry roads is that, without even trying to look for them I have spotted Native artifacts "jump out at me" off the side of the path where they were blasting the rocks away to put in roads, and also in the outer parameters of where they were blasting, exposing lower levels of Earth, no doubt, that have just laid exposed ever since those quarrying days.  This made my heart sink, as I fully realized that this area must have been heavily populated by Native people in pre-colonial times.  I will not get any more specific than this, but I say this to illustrate that I have seen what would be thought of by an academic as "conventional" artifacts as well as the ceremonial stoneworks which is the focus of this blog.  In fact, Native people obviously used the area as a quarry as well in earlier times, but most traces of this has probably vanished with all the blasting and destruction of rock ledges that went on in the area.

I have written many posts about the Echo Lake Chamber before.  Here is an example with links to other posts about the Echo Lake Chamber/Stone Lodge-

The neat thing about this Chamber is that it is not a typical stone chamber, it is a modified split boulder that has been "dressed-up".  So when you enter into the Lodge/Chamber (symbolic of going into the Earth) you are entering into the stone itself.  I noticed some new features about the site (as well as features I had failed to communicate on this blog as they escaped my mind- I don't take notes/ do sketches, etc. when I look at sites) which I would like to share and address in this post.  First, is an angle of the entry-way I did not previously record.  This angle of the entry-way has a ledge-stone, or stone "step" that steps up to the entrance of the structure.  Also, from this angle the Chamber looks just like an oridinary boulder, and it is not until it is approached that one begins to notice the features:


Close-up of the ledge stone/ step up to the entrance:

Full view of the stone lodge:

Close-up of the roof slabs:

From this angle one can tell that the boulder itself has been worked and shaped out, most notably by the top:

From inside the structure we see that the stone has been worked out at the top, below where the roof slabs have been placed:

Stone fill between the unjulating sections of worked-out boulder below the roof slabs:

It doesn't look like any modern machinery is responsible for "cutting" the stone like this into the unjulating "hill" shapes.  A pre-colonial stone-cutting technique must have been practised and employed to shape the boulder like this:

A view from inside the structure looking out.  Again look how the boulder is worked-out on the right-hand side:

 "Tunnel vision":

Okay.  Now here is a feature that will throw a researcher for a loop, a confounding feature.  The location and everything else about this site looks good until you notice something like the below picture, which is a quarry mark.  There is a mark like this found on the floor level inside the chamber.  However, the below picture comes from pre-colonial stoneworks from Peru, from the Incan Empire.  I use this example to illustrate that this method of stone cutting was used in pre-colonial times in the America's.  It is identical to the mark found on the floor level of the Echo Lake Stone Lodge.  And what is more, is that Richard Thornton, of mixed Creek descent, is a leading force into investigating pre-colonial stoneworks sites in the American (US) South-East.  You can view some of his articles here (with other links)-  Richard Thornton and other researchers have found stones with "quarry" marks like this in the American SouthEast at pre-colonial Native American sites.  What's more is that Peruvian artifacts were found in mounds along the Ohio River.  So, if this technique was possibly employed in the SouthEast in pre-colonial times, it shouldn't be too surprising if we find some examples of this in the NorthEast.  Before seeing this feature and concluding that this Stone Chamber is of modern origin, this should be examined by a forensic geologist to make a proper determination of when this mark was made in the stone.  Whether modern or ancient this stone structure is in a very important location and area.  It could be that several of the quarry-men in Milford in the late 19th/ early 20th century who worked at these quarries were Native descendants.  There is no telling what was destroyed (and possibly salvaged and re-built) in those days as this was a very important area to Native people.  In fact this whole area was Native land up until 1715, well into colonial times, when it was aggresively purchased out of Native hands by benefactors of the Harvard University "Divinity School" (Thomas Hollis of Hollis-ton, Edward Hopkins of Hopkin-ton, etc.)  On page 44 of the book "Manitou- the Sacred Landscape of New England's Native Civilization" Mavor and Dix quote Sarah M.C. Sullivan, a Nipmuc Native who in 1948 wrote, "Our people were great stone builders.  Sometimes those caves came in handy.  You could get in them away from cold and snow.  They also helped to hide alot of Indians during King Philip's War in 1676.  The Indians also helped the slaves by hiding them in caves when they escaped from the slave owners... Upton was once included in Hassanamesitt."  This is found on the chapter where Mavor and Dix research the Upton Chamber, which is another town that borders Hopkinton and Milford MA. but on the other end of these towns.  The tract of land around the Echo Lake area was also part of the greater area being talked about up until 1715.  Again, whether this structure is extremely ancient (which all the other evidence points towards) or a late 19th/ early 20th construction by Native people still practicing and preserving a stone-building tradition, this site is very important.  Again, the below pic is from a pre-colonial Inca stone (markings which have also been surfacing in the SouthEast at Native sites, according to source Richard Thornton) which is identical to the mark on the floor level of the Echo Lake Stone Lodge. It is either more modern and Native or very old and Native.  All the other evidence points to the latter. The Milford history books say a majority of them were Irish, who were treated as less than citizens in those days, a similar status to Native people.  It shouldn't be surprising if a small group of Native people were working alongside the other workers):    

Attached to the outside back wall of the Chamber structure is this shaft that I previously had not noticed: 

Close-up of the shaft:

The roof slabs.  Again, these slabs, the boulder itself, the other features looks ancient, it is just that one mark throwing the research of this site for a loop, although I have provided some possible answers to that riddle:

The ceremonial stone ring located at the foot of the Echo Lake structure.  I have noted this identical stone ring feature at other sites before here-  This is actually very important that this exact stone ring shape exists at other sites incorporated with other stoneworks in the same general area:

This is a cairn rock pile that is very close to the Stone Lodge:

The three surrounding petroforms/altars to the stone lodge on the bedrock hills.  First is the fish effigy altar:

I will present this link here to a episode of Native legends uploaded to Youtube which aired on Canadian public television in the 1980's-  The re-enactors in this film are community members of one of the MicMac tribes in the Quebec region which is also a related Algonquin group to SouthEastern Native peoples in the same region of the NorthEast.  In the film the re-enactors portray the Algonquin deity Glooscap, a cultural hero, and his "evil" twin brother Malsimus.  In this short Native legend film note the use of stone altar cairns as pertained to the deity Glooscap, such as at the 3:43 mark.

Below is the second stone altar to be found around the Echo Lake Stone Lodge, a stone ring next to an altar slab:

Altar slab on boulder, closest to the Stone Lodge:

Close-up of stone slab:

Stone cairn aligned with the winter sunset located at the cairn field along the hillside by Echo Lake, a cairn field that is very close to the Stone Lodge.  Link to this cairn field is here-

Also, my link comparing the Echo Lake Structure with other Chambers in the area is here-  I found the Echo Lake Chamber to be very identical in feel to the Webster Chamber, in terms of the over-all design- the front of the structure has the same "feel", the roof slabs are identical as well as the main passageway/hall.

Below are some maps of the Echo Lake area, Milford/Hopkinton/Holliston:



  1. Note that the sweat lodge is partially stonework. Thanks for this, Matt. Sent the youtube link to my son, of Abenaki descent (it's not an Ojibwe story as the title reads but an Abenaki story), to show to my granddaughter!

  2. I always wanted to get in there. Nice job. The roofed split boulder is impressive.

  3. Thank you both for commenting. Tim- the sweat lodge in the video link is built very much like a stone chamber- I had failed to notice that in the video before, i guess I wasn't paying close enough attention. That video is full of stone-works in use!