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Thread: paddling Hartford's Underground River

  1. #1
    Senior Member the starchild's Avatar
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    paddling Hartford's Underground River

    photos:

    http://community.webshots.com/album/431890301DxUXEy
    note: the photo desciptions should read well as a report too!!

    The Hog river once winded through Hartford before being buried by the Army corps of engineers due to major floods in the city back in the 1940's. I have wanted to explore the undergound river since moving to the city as a freshman in highschool in 1989. Huck Finn Adventures offered guided trips until last summer but I never went on one.

    Since two local papers did stories the same week about the river I decided I had waited long enough and made a few calls. A week later after a day of rain the trip was on!

    The put in was quick as the access to the river was over a fence and we didn't want to draw too much attention to ourselves. My friend Crash rode his bike over to meet us, helped unload and then put his bike in the van and drove to the take out; leaving the van for us. Big up to Crash for helping out!

    Within a few minutes of paddling the river lots of great grafitti welcomed us to the underground. We entered the massive giant concrete conduits! We took the right tunnel as I was told there was a car in there! There was! Lots of rocks and small pebble bars made for a scratchy bottom and occaisonal grounding if we didn't pay close attention. It didn't smell too bad either at any point.

    About 10 minutes in we entered the junction room where the north branch joins the south branch on which we were paddling. Looks kinda like a train station in there. The super bright rechargable light came in handy as an aid to our headlamps as the whole trip is in complete darkness. We also took a careful look at "the Pit." A 150 foot deep tunnel was dug into bedrock and allegedly goes out to the connecticut river as an emergency overflow tube. Not a good place to slip and fall!

    Afterwards we continued paddling seeing side tunnels begging for exploration. We soon hit a 10 or 15 minute streach of water that flowed faster, and i zoomed by Meir and Julie as the tandem they shared started bottoming out. Lots of rocks and randomn debris down there. We saw a single rat and no fish!

    It was impossible to talk if far apart due to the echoes, but that made for some fun as we screamed and hooo-deee-hooo'd in the darkness. Almost too soon we saw light as the neared the end. Not counting our stops and explorations the trip underground was about 45 minutes. I wish we had brought an old map to try and figure out what was above us as we winded left and right through the conduit.

    We entered the Connecticut River at Sunset! A great way to end a great little paddle I have dreamed of for 16 years!!!

    Woo-Haa!!!!!
    Last edited by the starchild; 08-24-2005 at 08:39 PM. Reason: misspellledd corps
    the starchild chill will

  2. #2
    Senior Member dr_wu002's Avatar
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    Wicked Cool Trip Report and I loved your pictures!! I wish we had stuff like this in Boston!

    -Dr. Wu
    To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
    -Thomas Paine

  3. #3
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_wu002
    Wicked Cool Trip Report and I loved your pictures!! I wish we had stuff like this in Boston!
    Well, if the Big Dig floods ....



    Really cool trip idea, probably too dark for pictures, huh?

    -dave-

  4. #4
    Senior Member dr_wu002's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky
    Well, if the Big Dig floods ....



    Really cool trip idea, probably too dark for pictures, huh?

    -dave-
    Or the Muddy River. There you go, put it in Trips & Events!!

    You guys interested!?

    -Dr. Wu
    To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
    -Thomas Paine

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Neat. This is the first I've heard of it. Would you go back ? Is it illegal or only discouraged ?

    "The conduit, made of reinforced concrete, was just over a mile long (5,800 feet) and ran from the Connecticut River to the space between the Capitol and Armory buildings. The river was confined in two tubes, each 30 feet wide and 19 feet high; these ran under Commerce, Front, Prospect, and Main Streets and were covered by a roadway. The section under the park was covered by grass, and a small pond was created so the park would not be entirely devoid of water."
    Dead Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start

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  6. #6
    Senior Member the starchild's Avatar
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    Thanks!, glad y'all like the photos; the trip was a blast.
    If the big dig does flood i can be there in 2 hours with my boat and lights!!!

    http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/gbas...oid=oid:121318
    this is an article that appeared in the local alt weekly. Full disclosure: I am the circulation manager there

    also Connecticut Life, the tabloid sized newspaper delivered free to homes, did a 2 page story this month. sorry no link to story

    all the talk in the office with the reporter really got me excited and inspired me to do stop putting it off and make a real effort to get an expedition together. I felt pressured to do it ASAP as i was worried too many people would try it after reading the stories or some idiot would do something stupid and maybe it would become illegal Although many friends assured me that the stories would not inspire a widespread pilgrimage of paddlers to the tunnels i spoke at length with a few people who had done it. I definetly had a few safety concerns of my own from things i have heard over the years and the research cleared everything up.


    Quote Originally Posted by Chip
    Neat. This is the first I've heard of it. Would you go back ? Is it illegal or only discouraged ?

    "The conduit, made of reinforced concrete, was just over a mile long (5,800 feet) and ran from the Connecticut River to the space between the Capitol and Armory buildings. The river was confined in two tubes, each 30 feet wide and 19 feet high; these ran under Commerce, Front, Prospect, and Main Streets and were covered by a roadway. The section under the park was covered by grass, and a small pond was created so the park would not be entirely devoid of water."
    legal? well....it is a real river so there are access rights in this state.
    illegal? well......i don't think it is?!?

    That description is the last part of the route, maybe just after the two branches join. After building the lower portion, more of the riverbed of the two branches of the river were covered up.

    http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/slide/...eb/T00003.html
    i know there are other links with photos and history

    http://www.connyak.org/cgi-bin/BBS.p...ames/read/2657
    posting with great paddling beta

    My mom, 100% siciliana, grew up in the old italian Front Street Neigborhood; which was completely demolished many years ago to build Constitution Plaza. She remembers walking over the Hog River on a bridge (now supporting Columbus Blvd.) to Kinsella grammer school!!!
    Last edited by the starchild; 08-24-2005 at 05:20 PM. Reason: added link
    the starchild chill will

  7. #7
    Senior Member the starchild's Avatar
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    sweeeeet link cantdog, thanks. its giving me lots ideas of ways of getting into some adventures.



    if you like that stuff check out this Aussie dude's site:
    http://urbanexploration.org/2005/sitemapgraphical.htm
    the starchild chill will

  8. #8
    Senior Member Papa Bear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the starchild
    ...
    I wish we had brought an old map to try and figure out what was above us as we winded left and right through the conduit.

    We entered the Connecticut River at Sunset! A great way to end a great little paddle I have dreamed of for 16 years!!!

    Woo-Haa!!!!!
    Here's a 15' 1892 Map: 15' 1892 Hartford quad Scroll to the very bottom of the topo.

    Here's a 7.5 ' 1944 map that shows the river about half covered over: 7.5' 1944 Hartford North quad
    Pb

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  9. #9
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_wu002
    Wicked Cool Trip Report and I loved your pictures!! I wish we had stuff like this in Boston!

    -Dr. Wu
    If you're willing to travel a little, the old AMC New England Canoeing Guide mentioned a long dark culvert under Ayer.

    And Salmon Brook in Nashua goes under a shopping plaza, but I skipped that part.

  10. #10
    Senior Member SAR-EMT40's Avatar
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    I have been wanting to do this trip for years now since I first heard about it from a freind I work with.

    Great sounding trip. I heard that it is strongly discouraged but people still do it. Let me know if you are going to do it again. I will skip work to do this trip.

    Thanks for the trip report.

    Keith
    "The real work of men was hunting meat. The invention of agriculture was a giant step in the wrong direction, leading to serfdom, cities, and empire. From a race of hunters, artists, warriors, and tamers of horses, we degraded ourselves to what we are now: clerks, functionaries, laborers, entertainers, processors of information."- Ed Abbey

  11. #11
    Senior Member alpinista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the starchild
    The Hog river once winded through Hartford before being buried by the Army core of engineers due to major floods in the city back in the 1940's.
    Howdy Starchild,

    I'm a native of Hartford/West Hartford and I have one of those paintings done on glass that shows the old river as it winds its way past the Memorial Arch/Bushnell Park/State Capitol. (You've probably seen the painting; several were done years ago and all show the same scene. Mine uses mother of pearl for the water coming out of the fountain in Bushnell Park and the dome on the Capitol) I'm pretty sure that's the same river that was buried, perhaps there were several.

    Nifty pix and TR!
    Not all who wander are lost...

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  12. #12
    Senior Member HighHorse's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    way cool...
    Things outside you are projections of what's inside you, and what's inside you is a projection of what's outside. So when you step into the labyrinth outside you, at the same time you're stepping into the labyrinth inside. Most definitely a risky business. -Murakami

  13. #13
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    Very Cool

    This is an awesome Trip Report !!!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Double Bow's Avatar
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    Awesome report! I didn't know such things existed here in NE!
    "I like to collect experiences the way other people like to collect coins and stamps." Michael McGuire

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  15. #15
    Senior Member funkyfreddy's Avatar
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    Great trip, wish I had gone with you! Would you be up for more esoteric type journeys by foot or kayak?

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