Posted By auntie on August 17, 2016
Two in a row non-hiking report posts! It’s a new record. This is more of a report of a scouting expedition in Norwich, CT. And if you got here via my Facebook page, the answer is… The Upper Falls of the Yantic River in downtown Norwich, CT.
The legend goes that um, well, why don’t I just outsource the story to The Distracted Wanderer, a local travel blog, and the place that first got me interested in visiting this spot?
As the story goes, Miantonomo, Sachem of the Narragansetts, led 900 of his warriors in what was to be a surprise attack on the Mohegans at Shetucket, the Mohegan capital near the City of Kings. The night before the battle, Mohegan scouts in the area observed the advancing enemy and carried the intelligence back to Uncas who formed a plan.
Uncas knew he didn’t have enough warriors to battle Miantonomo but he was a brave chief and would die for his people if need be; if one man could save many then he was willing to make that sacrifice. He told his braves that he would ask Miantonomo to fight one-on-one and if Miantonomo refused, he would drop to the ground as a signal for them to fire arrows into the enemy and then charge them hoping that the surprise would give them the advantage against the higher numbers.
Chief Uncas met the Narragansett chief between the lines of battle in the area that is now known as East Great Plain and appealed to him to prevent blood loss between both tribes by a single combat between the two leaders instead. When Miantonomo contemptuously rejected Uncas’ proposal, the Mohegan chief immediately dropped to the ground and the Narragansetts were met with a hail of arrows before Chief Uncas jumped to his feet and led his brave warriors in a charge.
Caught totally off-guard, the Narragansetts ran from the charging Mohegans with some fleeing along their familiar route while others, unfamiliar with the territory, unknowingly reached the high treacherous cliffs of Yantic Falls. Rather than surrender to the Mohegans, Miantonomo leapt across the gorge and managed to land on the other side, injuring his leg in the process. Others of his tribe attempted to leap the chasm but were unsuccessful and plunged to their death onto the rocks in the abyss below while others simply surrendered and became prisoners of the Mohegans.
When the pursuing Uncas arrived at the top of the gorge and saw his enemy hobbling away on the other side, he took a running start, flew over the rapids, and landed safely on the other side. It was an astounding leap that gave the area above the falls its future name and allowed Uncas to catch up to the injured Miantonomo who was then easily overcome and taken as prisoner.
There’s more at this link: www.thedistractedwanderer.com/2013/02/the-tale-of-indian-leap-at-yantic-falls.html, along with some very beautiful photos. You should totally check it out!
Old Power House
There’s much more here than just the falls, however. This is the beginning of the 2-mile Heritage Trail, which in turn is only part of a network of designated “trails” through the city.
Well this only piqued my interest, so I did some more exploring on the intertoobs, and found this site, Walk Norwich, which includes a Google map of the many designated trails.
Norwich Trails (click image to go to the actual web page)
I’ve put a nice walk together, on paper, by linking the various trails. Now to find time to actually go walk it… In the meantime, here are a couple more photos from my scouting trip.
Not actually part of the designated trail! And it looks as if it’s still in use, so if you decide to go rogue and walk along the tracks, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Another view of the Falls