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Get the Led Out Traditional Cache

Hidden : 08/22/2010
3 out of 5
2.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   regular (regular)

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Geocache Description:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change, the road you're on!


PLEASE respect the surrounding area. There is NO REASON to overturn rocks.

Cache is accessible, easily, once found.

Our checker was concerned about this cache, and the area. As a result, the difficulty and the points for this cache were bumped up for the event!

This cache is located within the Leadmine Mountain Conservation Land in Sturbridge Ma, and was placed for the Great Northern Tier Geocaching Tournament 2010 – Pioneer Valley - GC25K44. It is now available for any Geocacher who wishes to visit the cache, and enjoy the area after the event.

In the 1830s, the "only valuable locality in the United States" for graphite "is at Sturbridge, in Worcester county, Massachusetts, where it forms veins in gneiss about a foot in width," as the 1832 Encyclopedia Americana noted. This site is the "Sturbridge Lead Mine," which is a few miles south of Old Sturbridge Village. (The Village entrance is really on the northern end of what for most of the town's history was called Leadmine Road. Only within the past years was the museum's end of it renamed "Stallion Hill Road," presumably for the sake of gentility and local property values.) Worked by local Nipmuc Indians before European settlement, this geologic feature attracted white speculators including John Winthrop, Jr. and a few miners in the 1650s. This handful of men were the first white residents of Sturbridge, a couple of generations before its settlement by farming families in the 1730s. The mine was worked sporadically from the late 17th century through the early 19th century; in 1828 it was bought by wealthy Boston entrepreneur Frederic Tudor. Tudor was known as the "Ice King" because of the fortune he had made cutting ice near Boston and shipping it around the world. Colonel David Wight III (whose land is now the site of Old Sturbridge Village) was his local agent and African-American Guy Scott was the mine foreman. While most of the graphite from Sturbridge seems to have been used for the making of crucibles for casting brass, Research Historian Ed Hood and volunteer researcher Don Weinhardt have found evidence that Sturbridge graphite was being sold in the 1850s to John Thoreau, and after his death in 1859 to his son Henry David Thoreau, who ran one of several pencil manufactories in Concord, Massachusetts. Since Walden Pond was one source for Tudor's ice, this connection is not surprising!

Lead pencils began to be made in Concord in 1812, when "William Monroe commenced the manufacture." While Monroe claimed that his method of manufacture was "his own invention", it is likely that his methods resembled the German techniques, since "the lead for [his] first pencil was ground with the head of a hammer, [and] mixed in a common spoon...." Concord's 1835 historian noted that "in 1814 he made 1212 gross, which he sold for $5,946." By the 1830s, John Thoreau, Sr. and others were also making pencils at various locations in Concord. Thoreau made red as well as black pencils. (Colored pencils of course use pigments other than graphite, bound together with wax and resins.) Secretary of the Treasury Louis McLane's industrial survey of the United States for 1832 found eight Concord men engaged in pencil making. That year they turned 1750 pounds of Massachusetts black lead (presumably from Sturbridge) into 3750 gross of pencils, worth over $4,000. An examination of an 1830 map of Concord shows many businesses and mills, but no "pencil factories." Since those eight men mentioned by McLane had a combined total of only $150 invested in tools and $800 worth of real estate, we can assume that they made their pencils in small, unpowered workshops. (By the 1850s, however, maps do reveal a lead pencil manufactory on the Assabet River below the Damon cotton and woolen mills in western Concord.)

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