River flows into electronic age

By Steve Smith - Staff Reporter
Vernon - posted Tue., Feb. 1, 2011
Katie Ciesinski, grandaughter of Jon Roe, walks along Talcottville Gorge, soon to be renamed the Talcott Ravine. Photos courtesy of Jon Roe. - Contributed Photo

VERNON - Despite only being about 5 miles in length, the Tankerhoosen River now has a larger online presence, thanks to one Vernon resident.

Jon Roe, who has lived on Valley Falls Road for the last 33 years, said, like him, many local residents are familiar with some of the features of the Tankerhoosen and its valley, but there are also some that are commonly overlooked.

That was the main impetus behind Roe’s creation of the Tankerhoosen website – www.tankerhoosen.info - and newsletter, which he calls an all-encompassing resource for anything to do with the river.

“I want to cover not just the trails, hiking, and nature aspects,” Roe said, “but I’ve always been fascinated by things like geography, geology, and history. When you start digging into it, it’s like ‘wow, there’s so much out there.’ I was also very impressed with all the studies that have been done by people such as the Hockanum Valley River Association.”

The Hockanum, which the Tankerhoosen flows into, has had many thorough studies done of its entire watershed, and there is a lot of information available, Roe said. Some of that information – which pertains more specifically to the tributary – Roe hopes to find and use for his site.

Roe said the Vernon Historical Society and the Friends of Valley Falls are a couple of other organizations that he hopes to form a friendly partnership with, as his site grows.

“The resources are there,” he said. “I’d like to either link to them, and call attention to them, or extract from them and put them on the website, and refer back to the source. I hope to make the resources more available, so people don’t have to go digging.”

There are many other sites online that Roe also wants to link with, such as the one about the old Vernon Depot, www.vernondepot.com.

“They researched, and found all these old photos, and put them up on their website,” he said. “One of them dug further into the old mills on the lower part of the Tankerhoosen. They’ve got a lot of great resources, but nobody knows it’s there.”

Roe said the newsletter, which is set to be e-mailed every other month, is necessary, because it will help draw eyes to the site. There is also a corresponding Facebook page, which will publish updates as they become available.

“Websites are great, for many reasons,” he said. “You can put a website up, but nobody comes to it unless you constantly draw people’s attention to it.”

Another purpose for the site is to make people aware of environmental concerns.

“Certainly, protecting the resource is important,” Roe said. “It’s an amazing river, and four of the five miles are basically protected. [But] protecting it is really an ongoing problem. Upstream, there is a lot of industrialization, with all of the industrial parks near exit 67 and up into Tolland. It’s responsible development we’re after.”

Roe said the protected areas came to be, largely, because the former mill-owning families had their residences along the river, and much of those properties are of historical significance, such as the Belding Wildlife Preserve.

Anyone wishing to contribute or assist with the website or newsletter can find Roe’s contact information there. “I’d be glad to trade information,” he said. “I hope to tap into a lot of things and people, and the smaller organizations that, in one way or another, help support the Tankerhoosen Valley, which is really half of Vernon.”

Roe said he also hopes his efforts will help bring more people to deliver talks on the area, and organized walks of the valley, and in general, more enjoyment of the Tankerhoosen.

“I’m probably doing this because I like to do this type of thing,” Roe said. “I enjoy gathering information. I enjoy exploring and learning new things. It’s an excuse for me to get out and walk up and down some of these areas I’ve never been to before.”

The overriding hope, Roe said, is that people find the Tankerhoosen Valley a place to enjoy, and perhaps, a destination.

“People like living here and working here,” he said, “but it isn’t really promoted as an entity. I think in the long run, it could be very helpful to Vernon.”

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