Category Archives: me

Snook Silver Mine

I have been doing day hikes in Stokes State Forest all my life. Just recently I picked up the “A Guide to Stokes State Forest” at the park office and was intrigued by a section about the Snook Silver Mine. Apparently there is a trail from Kittle Field which leads to an old abandonded Silver Mine that John Snook created in 1875.

Even more interesting was a project that he started to dam a bubbling spring brook to create a lakeshore summer resort. The undertaking was never finished, but the remnants of the project can still be seen today.

snook trail map
Taken from “A Guide to Stokes State Forest”:

Snook Silver Mine

On the lower slopes of a small hill located about 1/2 mile east of Kittle Field, John Snook discovered a large crack in a rock outcrop. Upon further investigation, he found traces of silver ore and in 1875 started a small mining operation.

Alternating a hand drill and hammer explosive charges placed in strategic locations, Snook fashioned a rectangular shaft approximately 4′ wide, 32′ deep and 10′ long. In dealing with blasting powder, he drilled the holes into the rock, measured the powder charge, and tamped the fuses, he sent his younger children into the shaft to the ignite the blast.

When he wasn’t working the mine, Snook filled the hole with water to keep trespassers from extracting the ore. A small pitcher pump powered by hand was used to drain the shaft when operations resumed. A wooden beam structure covered the hole and a pulley system carried the dirt, stone and ore out of the bottom. Oxen were used to cart the ore away from the mine for processing.

Recently, some of the mining tools were found wrapped in an oiled cloth beneath the roots of an old tree. Today the shaft is filled in with mud and water.

Snook’s silver mine was reported to be profitable to the extend of receiving $75.00 per tone of ore. Several other mines have been found in the area containing traces of lead, gold, and copper; however, the fines where usually too insignificant to develop.

snook silver mine
Dry Lake

In 1928 Hiram Snook discovered a large bubbling spring in a lowland area approximately 1-1/2 miles northwest of Kittle Field. He conceived an idea of building a summer vacation resort complex where rich city dwellers could lease lakeshore homes.

The construction of the lake was a great undertaking. Using a gasoline powered steam shovel, he dredged the muck soil from the site. A ditch fourteen feed deep and 450 feet long was dug so that the dam would have extra support in its foundation from the surrounding soil and rock. The dam was framed with rough cut lumber and concrete and poured one section at a time from a small portable mixer. A portable rock crusher ground rock aggregates taken from family owned stone fences and the sand used in the concreted was taken from a nearby stream bank.

The length of the completed portion of the damn runs 212′, with its highest point above the ground being 14′. The width of the damn varies from 7-12 inches. At the western edge, one can observe the original mold used in the operation. The foundation ditch continues to stretch westward for approximately 230′.

The development of hard times during the Great Depression forced Snook out of the business, unable to finish his vacation resort. The dam can still be seen as he left it over forty years ago. Today it stands as a tribute to the vision and fortitude possessed by the area’s former inhabitants.

snook dam

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden 6.0 – 2011
This year I started out by making my own grow light. I was going to buy one online, but couldn’t justify spending 75-125 dollars on a hobby which was suppose to promote frugality. I spent about 50 dollars in parts and was able to make an adjustable growlight using PVC and a shoplight. If you’re interesting in making your own, the hardest part is figuring out which bulbs to buy. I opted for the 6500k R12 fluorescent bulbs. We’ll see how it works.

grow light

I have a lot of seeds starting to sprout only a week after planting [3/15]. I’m growing sunflowers, snow peas, rosemary, pumpkin, sunflower strawberry blonde, strawberry, heirloom tomatoes, butterhead lettuce, french beans, ancho chile, jalapeno, cucumber, parsley, impatiens, saffron, tomato brandywine, beets, dill, cilantro, spinach

Vegetable Garden 5.0 – 2010
This year I actually did remember to start the garden from seed. I purchased the Burpee seed starting kit and a bunch of seeds from The seeds did germinate, but unfortunately they did not grow enough and when I tried planting them in the garden, they quickly died. This means another trip back to Gilberties and a hundreds bucks later…

One upgrade to the garden is the addition of a soaker hose. However, the soaker hose I bought at Home Depot was “flat” and was impossible to stake correctly in the beds. Most of the time the water would come shooting out the top of the hose. I’m going to replace it next year.

Vegetable Garden 4.0 – 2009

Once again I did not have a chance to start the garden from seeds, but I fully attend to do this next year by ordering from I just need to work backwards from the last frost date of mid-april.

For Garden 4.0, I remembered an episode of TOH where they visited an herb farm in Westport, CT. I did some quick search to remember the name and found the herb garden: Gilberties Herb Gardens. What an amazing place! If you’re live in CT, you have to check it out.

Unfortunately, the compost pile I started last Fall wasn’t ready yet so we added 8 bags of organic peat moss/manure to amend the beds. In the meantime, I have two compost piles next to the firewood pile. The kids are doing a great job and not throwing away things such as banana peels, egg shells, etc and composting the stuff we would normally throw away. They really enjoy it and understand that some trash can be reused to make something wonderful. Hopefully by next year we’ll have plenty of black gold.

One of the other things we did during the non gardening season was collecting sea and crab shells to line the borders of the garden. The crab shells we rinse off with clean water and break them up into the beds for nutrients.

We have three beds for the garden and here is what we planted

Bed 1: Greek Oregano, Mint, Chocolate Mint, Catnip, Sugar Baby Watermelon, Red Rubin Basil, Basil, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Golden Lemon Thyme
Bed 2: Brussel sprouts, carrots, bush pickle, Heirlom Oxehart Tomato, Old world Italtian Tomato Pantano
Bed 3 Strawberries, Butter leaf lettuce, Arugula, Red leaf lettuce, Anaheim hot pepper
Along Fence: Snow peas, Sunflowers

Since tomatoes were not in season yet, we’ll add those to Bed 2 in the next few weeks.
Garden with kids

Garden rainbow

Vegetable Garden 3.0 – 2008

The plan was to start some plants from seed, but unfortunately I didn’t get an early enough start. In mid May Alex and Julia came up and we spent the day working on the garden. We added compost from what I started last year and also supplemented the beds with about ten bags of top soil. Since it was still pretty cold out, we only could find cold hardy seedlings. We got: strawberries, red leaf lettuce, green lettuce, peas and broccoli. We also planted herbs of: cilantro, parsley and lemon balm .

We also spent a lot of time covering the bed with chicken wire. While the system works pretty well, it took a long time to cut the wire and to create a system to easily remove the wire.

The first night the garden was planted we had a visit from a raccoon. Even though he was rather big, he was able to squeeze under the three inch gap in the fence. Since their carnivores, he didn’t bother the garden. Having seen the raccoon easily penetrate the garden defenses, I decided to set the trap for the ground hog to see what happened. The next morning I had a groundhog in the trap. I took him about three miles away to a park with a stream and released him. I felt bad because I read that they don’t always survive when you remove them from your home but I had enough of the dog like droppings on the lawn and the holes around my deck [where they lived underneath]. Needless to say, having them eat my garden was also a factor.

A few weeks later we finished the other two beds of the garden and planted: cucumber, three different varieties of tomato, yellow wax peppers, red peppers, eggplant, pumpkin. And also added herbs of: Greek oregano and basil. The pumpkins we’re actually “weeds” though. The pumpkins I added to the compost pile last year actually started to sprout between the other vegetables in the beds. We transplanted about 6 of them to the rear bed and then discarded the rest.

I decide not to cover the middle bed with chicken wire and just set the trap. The next day another groundhog. Off he went to another nearby park.

I spent part of the Memorial day weekend digging a one foot trench around the garden and adding twenty-four inches of chicken wire to prevent any critters from crawling in under the gate. This seems to worked out quite well because there hasn’t been any problems other than a few squirrels digging holes in the beds looking for nuts. Hopefully the deer won’t make it into the backyard as they will easily be able to jump the four foot fence.

In the first few weeks of planting the lettuce, we already had enough to pick. Along with some flowers from around the yard, we had our first Spring harvest.

Claire posing with our Spring flowers and salad

Garden with three beds and groundhog fencing

Vegetable Garden 2.0 – 2007

We found the sunniest part of our yard that didn’t involve putting a garden right in the middle of the whiffle ball field and decided right outside our sun room was the best location. There was a huge shrub [6′ tall x 15′ long by 6′ wide] that had to be removed. We removed the shrub, axed away the 12 inch trunks and the cleared the grass away. After the shrub was gone, I proceeded to determine how I was going to fence the garden in to make it ground hog proof. I wanted to match our existing picket fence, but the sizing dimensions would have to be 6 foot sections rather than what I can purchase of 8 foot sections. Having become an expert in repairing picket fences I decided it would cheaper and look more professional if I made my own fence sections. I fabricated four 6′ foot fence sections while also cross bracing one of the sections to be used as a gate. By the time the fence was complete, it was almost the end of the summer and past the growing season. I decided to use a Burpee seed growing system to start some plants. It worked really well and I simply just left it on the back deck. Unfortunately, the groundhogs found it and ate all the seedlings. Discouraged, I finished making the raise beds out of cedar and planted some Rosemary which actually survived the winter.

I also purchased a trap to relocate the groundhogs although I didn’t use it.

Using some of the ninety plus bags of leaves I raked, I created a compost pile in the backyard. I also added the pumpkins that we used to decorate the front steps of the house to the compost pile as well.

Vegetable Garden 1.0 – 2006

The first version of the vegetable garden was setup behind the garage in the back corner of our property. Since this space was hardly utilized, it seemed like a perfect place to create the garden. I created a U shaped raise bed out of cedar and planted sunflowers, tomatos, carrots, pumpkins and corn. I seeded directly into the beds and mostly everything sprouted. However, there were 2 major problems:

1) When I made the beds in the late winter, the location received a lot of sunlight. However, I didn’t take take into account one simple thing.. leaves! As you can see, once Spring hit, the leaves of the tree blocked out most of the sun.

2) Groundhogs love vegetable plants. They gnawed off most of the stems leaving only a few very very small carrots left behind. This was precursor to the problems I would have with my earth burrowing friends.