Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Into the Wolf’s Den: A Brief History


We live in a deep valley ringed with hills like a souffle that has fallen in the center. Carved into the deepest recesses of the valley, the Credit River runs discreetly by, largely unseen behind a screen of the scrubby bushes and deciduous trees. Even the telltale sound of rushing water is all but obliterated by the constant drone of traffic speeding through the valley. Though neither particularly deep nor remarkably wide, the Credit River’s swift current, especially when swollen by spring showers can be a significant force to be reckoned with.


The area once had the gothic name “the Wolf’s Den” because of the shadowy wolves that were supposed to have haunted the heavily forested valley. When European settlers first arrived the wolves posed a threat to livestock and it was considered unwise for humans stray to far from home after dark without a gun or an axe. The government dealt with the problem by offering a bounty on each wolf killed and encouraged settlers trap and shoot them.


Early descriptions of the area recount that the valley’s tall stands of white pine towered some one hundred feet in the air and stood so thickly together that they were almost impossible to fell. The first settlers harnessed the river’s power to clear land and saw timber for their homes. A small village, complete with a post office, timber, grist and woolen mills grew up on the banks of the river. Many years later the village was renamed “Huttonville” after the area’s most prominent founding family the Huttons.


A woolen mill was built on the banks of the Credit River by J.O. Hutton. It was sold to John McMurchy in 1887. The Mill operated until 1953, when a competition from larger mills and a general slump in the textile industry made it no longer viable.

Today, the woolen mill sits forlornly empty, its windows covered with rough planks and its doors locked.


Photo Credits: Thanks to the book "From the Wolf's Den to Huttonville and the Pioneers Who Made It Possible" published in 1996 by the Huttonville Book Committee. Publisher: Ampersand Printing.





2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed all of your posts but this one especially given that it traces back into time the history of your property. I do wish that someone would restore the Huttonville woolen mill without altering too much of its architectural features. It seems that all rivers had some kind of woolen mill close by - I think of Kingston's mill. Wouldn't it be nice to have a garden around it to show off its stone work?

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  2. Thank you for this. My Great Great Uncle & Aunt had a "cottage" at the end of River Road. I have photos from the 30s-40s of them building it up. I spent my summers there from early '50's. We used to walk the path from river rd through the mill to the old post office to get our penny candy. My favorite spot was the weeping willow. I put River Road in the first webisode of my genealogy series as I loved it so much! http://www.youtube.com/user/RyaneInc?feature=mhee

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