661 Constitution Boulevard North
2.2 -mile outer loop, 1.2 mile eastern loop, easy to moderate
Location: The trailhead is located on Constitution Blvd across the street from the Shelton Intermediate School. A kiosk and small parking area marks the location. You can also access the trail on Shelton Avenue at the powerlines.
Description: A fairly easy hike. Turkey Trot Trail is blazed white, unlike its companion trail, the Rec Path, which is blazed yellow. The two trails are combined during the first part of the trail, going along the top of an old dam that used to hold back a fairly large reservoir known as Shelton Reservoir #1. This reservoir was reduced to a small marshy pond after the dam burst several decades ago and has been since renamed Silent Waters. After passing the reservoir the Rec Path will turn left and cross Shelton Avenue. To stay on Turkey Trot Trail, follow the white blazes.
Trail Background: Turkey Trot Trail was developed for the High School Cross Country Team, with their help. Special recognition goes to Bob Wilkins and Bill Dyer for building a massive foot bridge on a Saturday morning in pouring rain. The "Turkey Trot Trail" name comes from an episode where a large number of turkeys ran down the trail in front of trail volunteers. There really ARE a lot of turkey in there.
The trail was designed so that runners starting at Constitution Blvd run the entire outer loop first, which is 2.1 miles, then run the inner loop around the pond, for a total mileage of 3.1.
The trail goes around a partly drained reservoir called Silent Waters, although there is really one point where you get a clear view during the summer. The water is shallow and marshy, but full of wildlife. This reservoir was once much larger. In 2003 it was drained and a new weir was added at the outlet which raised the water about a foot.
There are lots of turkey and deer along the trail. In Silent Waters are ducks, herons, turtles and muskrats. And in the stream that crosses the powerlines (where a small bridge was built), there are northern dusky salamanders under the rocks. Photo at left: A nest in brush growing way out in the pond.
In the mid-1800s, a series of dams and reservoirs were built to provide the Borough of Shelton, part of the town of Huntington at the time, with drinking water. A most impressive stone and earthen dam created a reservoir about the size of the inner loop. On Sunday, February 22, 1903, in the middle of the night, the center portion of the dam burst! A torrent of water, ice, and debris judged to be 50 feet wide and 12 feet high swept over the lower reservoir near Meadow Street and into downtown Shelton. While all buildings in the floodwater path and 110 feet of the trolley tracks on Howe Avenue were damaged or wash away, amazingly no human lives were lost. Many of the factories along Canal Street were flooded and the canal that powered the factories was useless until drained and cleared of debris. The homes north of the washed out section of Howe Avenue were cut off from the town and without utilities for weeks.
Silent Waters dam breach.bmp (720054 bytes)The Water Company was aware that muskrats were burrowing under the center section of the dam, which was 12 feet high and 8 feet thick. An investigation concluded that the muskrat tunnels weakened the dam, allowing the water pressure to blow through the bottom and eventually destroying the center section. By 1903, the Shelton Lakes reservoirs were a backup to Trapp Falls reservoir for providing water to Huntington. So the dam center was never repaired and the reservoir, a favorite of local fishermen and bird watchers, remains at its current level. The rest of the dam is in remarkably good condition and an excellent example 19th century masonry.