Friday, May 02, 2014



Watertown once had a “balancing rock” which was located a quarter mile off Woodbury Road, not far from the Woodbury town-line and Sperry’s Apple Farm. The 22-ton boulder was so finely balanced that a small child could push it and it would rock back and forth. 

It was a well know attraction, at least within the Watertown area.

The boulder was left behind when the mile thick layer of glacial ice receded some 21,000 years ago. In fact, the glacier was responsible for creating the boulder. 

First it was broken off from a ledge somewhere well north of Watertown. Then for thousands of years it was slowly rolled along. The grinding action reduced its size and rounded its edges.

When the ice receded, the boulder was lowered to its resting place which happened to be a rock slab. Had it ended up on soft soil, it would have sunken into the ground as the ages passed. It certainly wouldn’t have ended up being a balancing rock. 

A small one-room schoolhouse was built nearby in the 1700s and no doubt the students made the balancing rock part of their play activities. 

The road that once went past the schoolhouse and the boulder was known as the Middle Road, but was abandoned in the 1800s. 

After WWI, the people of Watertown wanted to create a memorial for those who served in “the war to end all wars”. It was decided to use the balancing rock. 

In early 1920, Ralph N. Blackeslee of Waterbury was hired to move the boulder. It was a serious undertaking that required several men more than a week just to build a ramp strong enough to hold the weight of the massive rock.

The boulder was inched along the ramp to an awaiting wagon that required sixteen horses to draw the load. Needless to say, it was a slow, painful process. Progress was measured in a few feet at a time. 

Many times the weight of the wagon broke through the frozen earth and the wagon wheels would sink into the soil. Then, jacks were used to raise the wagon and thick lumber was placed under the wheels and the task continued.

It took three days to move the boulder a quarter mile to Woodbury Road. Another day was required to get the boulder to the triangular green just left of the Town Hall on DeForest Street where it can be found today. 

Once in place, bronze plaques were imbedded in the sides that list the names of all those from Watertown who served in the war. 

As it sits now, the boulder is up-side-down from the way the glacier positioned it. 

A dedication ceremony was held on May 30, 1920 and our soldiers were appropriately honored.


Florence T Crowell's Historic Watertown Connecticut Photo Gallery

(The area where the boulder was originally located was sometimes referred to as Nonnewaug's Hill. - Tim)

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