Thursday, July 19, 2018

Connecticut's Gillette Castle State Park is a great family RV Short Stop

Outside Gillette Castle (Source: Visit Connecticut)
One attraction to put on your must see list of RV Short Stops when your touring New England is Connecticut's Gillette Castle State Park. The park overlooks the Connecticut River in the south central part of the Constitution State, about 45 miles east of New Haven. 

Positioned atop "the most southerly hill in a chain known as the Seven Sisters," William Hooker Gillette (1853-1937) built the 184-acre estate. "The focal point of his effort is a 24-room mansion reminiscent of a medieval castle," according to a profile in Wikipedia.
William Gillette (Wikipedia)

More on the park later, but first, a little more about Gillette. He was a noted actor, director and playwright in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and "is best remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage and in a 1916 silent film thought to be lost until it was rediscovered in 2014."  It is said that his portrayal of Holmes helped create the modern image of the detective with the trademark deerstalker cap and curved pipe.

"Gillette designed the castle and most of its contents personally, periodically checking every phase of their construction. Built of local fieldstone supported by a steel framework, it took 20 men five years (1914-1919), to complete the main structure," according to information provided by Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Gillette Castle interior (Connecticut DEEP)

Gillette Castle and the adjoining property with its fine woodlands, trails, and vistas was purchased by the State of Connecticut in 1943 and are "now administered for the enjoyment of present and future generations."

"It looks like a medieval fortress, but a step inside the stone castle reveals the built-in couches, table trackway, and woodcarvings that all point to the creative genius that was William Gillette."

Gillette Castle State Park in Autumn (
The park has stunning views of the Connecticut River and beautiful walking trails that often follow Gillette's three-mile long narrow gauge railroad. Some of the paths were constructed with near-vertical steps, stone-arch bridges, and wooded trestles spanning up to 40-feet. Other outdoor attractions include a vegetable cellar, a railroad station, and a charming goldfish pond.

Autumn can be amazing. Facilities at the park include: Picnic Shelter, Visitor Center, Food Concessions (During the off season, the food concessions is only available on weekends and Holidays.)

If you go:

Gillette Castle State Park
67 River Rd., East Haddam, CT
(860) 526-2336

The grounds are open free year round.

The Castle is open daily Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Castle Entrance fees:
Age 13 and Over: $6;  6-12: $2; 5 and under: Free
Tickets are sold until 4:30 p.m.

Staff is available to assist with questions about the Castle's interior and its history.

-- Julianne G. Crane 
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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Oregon's Collier Memorial Park Logging Museum records rugged lifestyle

Oregon's  Collier Memorial State Park is said to have the state's finest Logging Museum.

The Park also features a relocated pioneer village; great state campground with warm showers; and a new four-corral, primitive horse camp and trailhead.

Located on U.S. Route 97, north of Klamath Falls, RVers can choose to stop for the Day Use area only or camp overnight. (For more insight into staying at the campground click on RV Wheel Life's posting on Collier Memorial State Park Campground.  The campground is open May 1 through Oct. 1.) 

Either way, visitors can see a first-class Logging Museum that contains "rare and antique logging equipment dating to the 1880s. Railroad buffs will enjoy learning about the role the railroad played in logging."

It is easy to imagine the rugged loggers and "the immense task of moving raw timber with innovation and brute force."

According to the logging museum, it "houses some of the most interesting, rare and representative logging artifacts in the world. The museum provides a window through time, demonstrating the evolution of (the state's) Eastside logging practices and technology that played a major role in the development of this region and its culture."

There is also a pioneer village that gives insight into how families once lived in this challenging environment. (We RVers know what it's like to make a home in small spaces; however, raising children in these tiny communities would be a test of anyone's resolve.)

The park and free museum are located just north of Chiloquin, Oregon, near the conjunction of Spring Creek and the Williamson River in a beautiful setting of towering Ponderosa pine trees. 

 For more information:

Collier Memorial State Park Logging Museum
46000 Hwy 97 N.
Chiloquin, OR 97624
(541)783-2471, (800) 551-6949

Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June-August and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. September-May.
Collier Memorial State Park Day Use area is open all year.

-- Julianne G. Crane 
To read more articles about the RV lifestyle go to

Photos: Monster-sized pieces of equipment used in the early days of logging. (Julianne G. Crane). Museum sign (Oregon State Parks).  Jimmy Smith reading about a homesteader's cabin; and inside the cabin. (Julianne G. Crane)Click on images to enlarge.