Sunday, October 29, 2017

Cow Tunnel

Rob Jackson, a classmate who lived in the Danvers Highlands during most of his childhood, recalls running through a "cow tunnel" with his friends. Recently he showed me on a map the approximate location of that old tunnel.

He says the tunnel was under Route 1,  connecting from the Endicott farm (east of Route 1) to property just below the Danvers State Hospital, in a low, nearly wetland (pasture), that seemed to be on or near the lowest portions of the original Watson Farm, west of Route 1.

Some years ago, from memory, he had drawn a sketch of the tunnel.  I saw his sketch for the first time on October 19, 2017. He says it is not drawn to scale.

Rob also had used an image from Google Earth (below) to draw in the location of the cow tunnel under Rt.1. He wrote in an email, "The big yellow dot marks the location of the tunnel's east end. ... The short narrow road in the photo that shows to be about 30 to 50 feet north of the yellow dot is actually the far end of the original Ingersoll Street that ended at Rt.1." 

Rob drew yellow line for cow tunnel position; looking north.

Update: Rob recently requested information from the Town of Danvers. He reports that Rick Rodgers, Town Engineer, and Miriam Contois, Technical Administrative Assistant, and others of the engineering staff for the Engineering & Electrical Division, Town of Danvers, were most helpful. They showed him "A Plan & Profile of State Highway in the Town of Danvers" – dated 1948.  He examined various prints depicting the overall changes made (or to be made) to Route 1 that include the stretch of roadway in the vicinity of the junction of Ingersoll St.

The 1948 plans show a "Cattle Pass " under Rt. 1 exactly where Rob had marked "cow tunnel" on the Google Earth image.
1948 plan with Cattle Pass; looking south.
In 2009 Rob had explored the area, trying to find evidence of the old structure. He found the east end of the tunnel (now blocked) and took these next photos.

After meeting with Rob, I wrote a summary of what we know about this cow tunnel. I've submitted the piece to the Danvers Herald, and hope it may draw comments from other people who have information about cow tunnels in Danvers. We'd like to learn about the history of this cow tunnel, when it was designed and how it was originally used.  

Mr. Richard Trask, Danvers Archives, recalled reading something about cows and Route 1 in Endicott family papers written early in the 20th century, when that farm was very active. He checked and found a May 1922 letter from attorney Ira Ellis to William C. Endicott mentioning "conditions on the turnpike running through your mother's estate" and questioning "whether or not the District Engineer had remedied the condition at the head of Ingersoll Street so that cows could be driven across the Turnpike...  If in reply to this letter you shall advise me that the cows cannot at present be driven to the pasture I will take up this matter with ... and will endeavor to impress upon him the urgency of the situation and the injury that is being caused through the delay in remedying it."

1 comment:

Steve Burnham said...

Hi Sandy - there was another cow tunnel in Danvers running under Rte 128 connecting Conant Street to Folly Hill. When we were kids we'd ride our motorcycles and dirt bikes from Cherry Hill to Folly Hill by means of that cow tunnel. The Conant street entrance is very close to the entrance road to the Cherry Hill Industrial park (the entrance closest to Danvers) and the Folly Hill entrance is near the road leading up to the water storage tank at the top of the hill. Now that it's fall and the undergrowth is dying off, I'll see if I can get some photos of the entrances and send them to you. I've been told the entrances are blocked off, but I'd still like to see them. Hope this helps - I'll be in touch once I get some pics...