Ashford was a prosperous farming community in the early nineteenth century, with 2661 residents in the 1830 census. It entered a steep decline in the mid-1800s, however, and was down to less than 700 residents around World War I. The region might have been very nearly abandoned in the early twentieth century, if it hadn't been for an influx of Eastern European immigrants looking for cheap farm land. The town has made a comeback since the mid-twentieth century, but as late as the 1970s, there were houses without electricity or indoor plumbing in the area, and some old-timers made a living with activities like burning piles of logs encased in earth to make charcoal, and cutting Witch Hazel branches for medicinal preparations.
|Road through Boston Hollow|
|Not-quite the Old Man of the Mountain, in Boston Hollow.|
|Hemlock forest on the steep sides of the Hollow.|
|Peligera cf. canina, Dog Lichen|
|Umbilicaria mammulata, Smooth Rock Tripe|
There is a lot to explore around Boston Hollow, with close to 8,000 acres of forest preserved for research by Yale, a number of nearby state parks, and large additional parcels of forested land owned by a local timber company. But, and maybe it's just because I'm originally a New York City native, it's hard to shake the feeling that the place is just a little too far from the madding crowd, and decidedly not the sort of woods where you would want to be caught after dark on Halloween.