26. LITTLE MEADOW AND BIG MEADOW

 

 

LITTLE MEADOW. The 1915 map identified today's Little Meadow as a small pasture. It is shown as still unwooded on the 1935 map and without road development.

By 1940 Little Meadow had been organized into a dead end spur. Like a few other sections, it had yet to be tracted into specific sites, which would come near 1960.

Comparing old and new maps, its sites fit nicely into the land originally cleared for pasture in pre-campground days.

The Little Meadow for many years had five sites radiating off of a short dead end that was capped with a small circular turnaround. This layout was modified after 1987 to create a one way counter clockwise traffic flow with a separate entrance and exit drive.

Vehicle maneuverability into and out of these camp sites was thus improved by conversion from a spur to a loop configuration.

Little Meadow Site Details: A comparison of maps suggests that today, Sites 92, 93 and 95 are the oldest, retaining their original pre-1987 locations. Before 1987 Site 95 was entered from the east rather than the north.

Some reorganization of Sites 94 and 96 as the spur was converted into a loop allowed an expansion from a total of five to six sites overall. The addition was Site 96A.

BIG MEADOW OVERVIEW. Hosting fifty attractive camp sites, Big Meadow is the largest subunit in Dolly Copp and a favorite to many.

The pre-campground map of 1915 reveals that today's Big Meadow was Culhane cropland of similar dimension, the house commanding the high ground and looking out over this large field.

 

Gayle and Josh Craig walking
the Big Meadow in July of 2012.

 

The central circular road configuration is remembered from early on (GB). The single entrance to the field of 1935 would become in 1962 the southern of what are today the two Big Meadow entrance roads.

By 1940 the entrance road and circular configuration had been formalized as a large, one way circle. This loop was designated as one way counter clockwise and remains so today.

A Big Meadow campsite in 1936.

As the Big Meadow in its entirety is the most complex subunit of Dolly Copp, in this narrative the subsections are given descriptive but fictional identifiers for ease of reference.

To start, the combination of the oldest features, the original south side entrance road and the interior circle, will be identified as “Big Meadow Drive.”

The central circle was by 1940 bisected by a small crossing road, to be labeled for descriptive convenience as “Big Meadow Lane.”

The remaining major Big Meadow feature, the newest section to the north named the “Trailer Loop” when constructed about 1962, retains that name herein.

Like other sections of Dolly Copp Big Meadow had a pattern of growth and change. There are a few tidbits of information from old archival memos.

Craig's at Big Meadow in 1939.

One from 1939 states “In the Big Meadow I noticed several cars on the grass, and this condition will continue throughout the summer unless additional manpower is available for supervision or unless the big job of barricading is handled in some way.”

Another 1939 memo states “seventy five feet of stone barrier were placed to prevent cars from going on the grass in the Big Meadow area.” We can speculate that some of these stones are those seen today on the south side of the area, near the three way intersection of Meadow Drive, Meadow Lane and Trailer Loop.

They still do their job, keeping vehicles off the grass, their light earthy tones part of the natural scenery.

BIG MEADOW DRIVE. Camp sites along this oldest and original circle portion were reduced in number due to reorganization near 1960, as detailed below.

Big Meadow Drive Site Details: While in 1940 there was one site at or east of Site 22, the areas of Sites 23, 24 and 27 have each been reorganized from two site to one site locations. But Sites 25 and 26 appear to be original single site locations from 1940.

North and east of Site 24 is an open lawn area, creating a small public space beyond the boundary of privacy for nearby Sites 24, 45 and 46. Here until the mid-sixties was a large outhouse of the pit toilet type (CH).

Along with that serving the Administration Building this was one of two such large outhouse structures in the Campground. A remnant of this structure in the form of a row of foundation stones is visible here today, their flat tops level with the lawn (CH).

As for the remainder of Big Meadow Drive, it hosts Sites 28 to 44. Sites 28, 29 and 30 appear to be in or at original locations, while a now removed 1940 site existed for some years just north of the modern day lavatory. In 1940 there was a camp between Sites 28 and 30. A group parking area was located between Sites 29 and 31 and across the road in front of Site 30.

Early view from Site 30.

Site 32 was originally arranged as two sites with one to the rear. In 1940 Sites 33, 34 and 36 were not yet in use for camping.

Continuing on, map comparisons imply Site 35 is original. The area of Site 37 and its adjacent fringe, reaching out on its sides to both nearby Sites 35 and 38, was organized into four sites initially.

There existed another small parking area between Sites 35 and 37. Site 38 in 1940 was open meadow without camping. Perhaps this opening between sites allowed foot traffic easy access in and out of Big Meadow and on to Flat Rock Pool.

Site 39 appears to be part of the original thirties plan. As already noted the barn for the Culhane Farm once stood immediately adjacent to the main road just north of Site 39 in what is now a small woods.

Site 40 appears to be original, and currently open area near Site 40 and just to the south hosted two sites. Before the 1960 era reorganization there were two additional sites between Sites 39 and 41.

Completing the site analysis to the end of Big Meadow Drive circle, Site 42 was originally organized as two sites, there was a site between Site 42 and today's nearby lavatory, Site 41 dates from 1940 or earlier, Site 43 was organized as two sites in 1940, and Site 44 is in an original location. Parking in 1940 for the immediate area was in front of Site 42.

BIG MEADOW LANE. As George Brackett does not recall this short bisector of the circle from his childhood in the early thirties, it must be a late thirties addition.

In 1940 Big Meadow Lane was one way eastbound. By 1951 it had been reversed to westbound to be more compatible with the adjacent counter clockwise flow circling it on Big Meadow Drive.

Early Big Meadow scene with Imp to east.
Photo courtesy of Bob Rich.

Big Meadow Lane was laid out to respect adjacent natural topography, for it is separated from and generally parallel to a segment of Big Meadow Drive to the north by a shallow stream valley. This arrangement provides privacy to camps on both sides.

Big Meadow Lane Site Details: This quaint little lane hosts Sites 45-50. It is only about 500 feet in length. All six locations were used for camping in 1940, except that Sites 45 and 46 were organized back then into two sites each. Parking for them was in front of Site 45.

TRAILER LOOP. Big Meadow has the distinction of being the section with the largest single post World War II addition in the Campground. This was the construction near 1962 of what was referred to in its planning stages and first years as the “Trailer Loop.”

A USFS Campground map of the early sixties and a later revision included this name so it was something more than just an informal term.

The early sixties brochure states “House trailers will be confined to the Swimming Pool Field, Riverside Drive, the Big Meadow, the Little Meadow and Trailer Loop.” Obviously the identity of the Trailer Loop had not yet been merged into that of the Big Meadow.

According to Brad Ray of the USFS “This was built when I was there. There was an increase in trailers and we felt a need to accommodate them.” He places the construction in the early to mid-sixties.

Bob Brown remembers that this addition to facilitate trailers was very popular with all the campers, those with tents as well as trailers. The reason was that trailers were squeezing into small sites where they could not easily fit, causing concern in all sections. Thus everyone was relieved when sites were provided to properly accommodate their bulk.

This addition created a second, new, northern entrance to the Big Meadow. It extended easterly down the grade, turned south, then swung back east to connect with the much older Big Meadow Drive segment.

Big Meadow before and
after enlargement near 1962.

Thus a big “horseshoe” configuration was formed out of old and new Big Meadow road segments. This thoughtful design enhanced traffic circulation for the entire area.

The gradual descent in elevation from west to east, from the main campground road towards the Peabody, is about 50 feet.

Trailer Loop Site Details: The Trailer Loop addition generally paralleled the curve of the nearby thirties era Big Meadow Drive. Today it contains Campsites 1 to 19.

Interestingly, while the Trailer Loop segment dates only from the early sixties, some of its nineteen sites had their origin in earlier times.

The reason for this is that some sites off of older and parallel Big Meadow Drive to the south were set back far enough such that there were two tiers of sites, inner and outer. Thirties campers would park on Big Meadow Drive then walk in to the interior camp sites.

The Trailer Loop segment provides direct private parking access to what were in early days the harder to reach north side Big Meadow Drive sites. Thus, while the Trailer Loop was built in the sixties, some of its sites really date from the thirties.

One such thirties era camp was near today's Site 5. Another was at Site 12 and a third was in the path of the Trailer Loop between Sites 12 and 13. Sites 17, 20 and 21 on Meadow Drive also appear to be original thirties sites.

Sites on the north side of Trailer Loop had no such early origin. Sites 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 18 and 19 were all newly created in the sixties.

There was enough room on the original Culhane field that these new sites developed almost entirely on that field without cutting into the boundary of woods as defined in 1915. Only the vicinity of Site 8, Site 10 and Site 11 were developed in, or on the edge of, original woods.

FLAT ROCK PATH - NORTH END. Referring to Big Meadow development, a 1939 USFS memo notes that “On the north side of the area is an old entrance to a small field, larger rocks are needed for barricading.”

Unfortunately the 1915 map does not indicate any opening to a field on the north side. However it does clearly show an opening to a field on the east side, between Sites 16 and 18.

Path from Big Meadow easterly
to the Flat Rock swimming area.

Here today is a well worn path, leading to the Peabody River’s Flat Rock Pool swimming area. It is clear from the 1915 map that the origin of this access was not decades of pedestrian movement from Big Meadow to the River, but rather the remnant of the rough farm road mentioned above that linked the area to a separate large field and pasture near the Peabody River.

This remote but significant acreage of farm land east and south of Big Meadow escaped being developed into tent sites, instead reverting back to woodland. Examining this area on a map we can assume the reason may have been remoteness from the main campground road.

Dorothy Brown remembers these “lost fields” as still unwooded in the forties. George Brackett remembers these long gone fields as well, agreeing with the theory that they were never developed for camping due to their remoteness.

Historian Casey Hodgdon said in 1998 that “about 300 feet down the trail from Big Meadow, on the left, I discovered a large pile of stones that were apparently hauled in by the Culhanes, or whoever cleared the fields."

Similarly entering the woods south from Sites 22 and 23 towards Culhane Brook is another large pile in testimony to many hours of back breaking labor.”

Pile of field stones moved to prepare Big Meadow
for farming, located in woods south of Sites 22 and 23.

It should be noted that as there is also a path from Hayes Field Drive to Flat Rock Pool, the combination of the “old farm road that became a path” off of Big Meadow with that other segment provides a forest walk for strollers today.

Leaving Big Meadow for Flat Rock Pool, the path soon requires a (not so easy) crossing of Culhane Brook. In early years there were timbers across the shallow water to assist pedestrians (GB).

Bob Cook and Mike Tipert remember a small wooden bridge here in the early fifties, washed downstream thereafter. Mr. Tipert believes the campers themselves may have built it. Beaver dam activity here has been continuous over the decades.

Rebecca Chew Myshrall at
beaver dam along path to Flat Rock.

George Brackett can remember that a thirties era pathway out of Big Meadow to Flat Rock Pool started off somewhat differently before the Trailer Loop was added in the sixties.

The earlier path to reach the old road to Flat Rock left Meadow Drive and entered the woods just downgrade from Site 29, a logical routing from the smaller Big Meadow that existed before the Trailer Loop expansion. Part is preserved as a lavatory access path today, dating from much earlier than the sixties when other lavatory paths were constructed.