Running Hounds

Hunting racoon at night with hounds is something that most people firmly associate with the southern United States, perhaps as far north as Tennessee.  But usually New England does not come to mind.

However, northwest Connecticut had a strong tradition of running hounds on racoon trails well into the twentieth century.  One of the favored areas for the coon hunters was the East Branch of the Farmington River. At the top of the valley, in Hartland, the Newgate Coon Club flourished with dozens of members and a clubhouse.  The Newgate Coon Club primarily ran its hounds on the upper streams and steep hills of the East Branch in Hartland, Granby, Barkhamsted, and Granville (Mass).  Today its land is part of the Barkhamsted Reservoir watershed owned by the Metropolitan District Commission.

Farther down the valley, it was Ratlum Mountain that attracted the hunters. In particular, the Warner family, especially Harry and Lena, and the neighboring Bradley family were ardent coon hunters.  Their hounds ranged over the Ratlum mountain area, including the land that is now Ski Sundown; the hunters followed on foot scrambling over ledge and through laurel, their path lit by lantern and moonlight.

Today the baying of a hound is unlikely to be heard on the mountain, but the racoons remain.

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