Everyone likes a mystery. The unexplained disappearance, abandoned dwellings, a glimpse of something uncanny, the hint of strange events. . .
I first heard about Dogtown Commons--an abandoned village in Gloucester, Massachusetts--years ago, while living on a remote, mostly uninhabited peninsula with no electricity or telephones and plenty of time to read and explore. The description of the place, with words like "abandoned", "wasteland", "boulder-strewn"; its history, describing its past inhabitants as "smugglers", "witches", "fortune-tellers", was guaranteed to work on the imagination, especially the imagination of someone inhabiting a place also removed from the bustle of modern life.
I did some research, learned more about the place and its inhabitants and--finally--visited the spot itself. My most recent trip, taken with my companion, Eric, (I'm over 18, I cringe at the word "boyfriend") on a rainy weekend in June, 2000, was very productive. Eric brought along his digital camera and we recorded not only the landscape, the abandoned dwelling sites and the "Babson Boulders", but our experience trying to navigate the maze of paths that wind in and out of the rocks and trees.
We pass our research, experiences and practical advice on to those of you who are curious (and close enough) to explore the place yourselves.
Apparently he boulders were carved by 35 Finnish quarry workers who were hired by Roger Babson during the great depression. What's amazing to me is that nobody seems to care what the hell happens to them. It was quite a discovery to find the word TRUTH carved in a rock on our first journey to Dogtown. I find it refreshing to see someone who saw through life's bullshit and left a permanent reminder of what is important in life.
What's sad is that everything is starting to get grown over. If you look at the boulder pictures from the 30's, Dogtown looked like you could walk a cow through there! At this point we could only find 16 of the 22 boulders with mottos. I bet Roger never thought that people would have to walk through a friggin' FOREST to see his creation.
Eric "Dacron" Bickernicks