Geography Of Sharon

GEOGRAPHIC TOPOGRAPHIC
AND GEOLOGIC REVIEW
BY ED KIRBY

The town of Sharon, 59.6 square miles in total area, lies to the northwest corner of Connecticut. The town is bordered on the north by Salisbury, to the east by Cornwall along the Housatonic River, on the south by Kent and the west by North East and Amenia, New York. The highest point is on Ellsworth Hill, 1551 feet above mean sea level. The lowest point is on the Housatonic River at the Kent border at 390 feet resulting in a total relief of 1161 feet.

Topographically and geologically Sharon may be classed into four subdivisions:

  • Western Uplands: northwest corner of town; Indian Mountain region ending west of Mudge Pond; rock formations are primarily schist.
  • Western Lowlands: extending south-southwest from the Salisbury border through Sharon and Sharon Valley to Amenia Union; the lowlands are underlain by carbonate bedrock of Stockbridge marble.
  • Central Uplands: the western upland border extends along the western base of Red Mountain, south-southwest to the hills bordering Sharon Village and Amenia Union to the east; the bedrock of the uplands include the basement gneiss of the region along with overlying Quartzite; this topographic subdivision includes the lower level region in White Hollow that is underlain by carbonate rock.
  • Housatonic River Valley: along the eastern border of town; unlike the bed of the river from Pittsfield to Falls Village, then from Cornwall Bridge south to beyond New Milford, this section is not underlain by carbonate rock; instead the basement rock underlies and crops out on both sides of the river.

As in the case of other New England towns, the geology of Sharon was a determinant in how the early settlers lived. Trees were more than ample for building and heating. Plentiful tree bark and water permitted the tanning of hides. Despite the boulder-strewn soils, settlers managed to grow the necessary foods. Running water from Sharon’s numerous streams provided the power for grist mills and saw mills. Following the discovery of iron ore in 1731, forges were put into production using limonite and goethite from Salisbury, the mine near Indian Lake and magnetite from the town’s east slope. The need for lime, first produced by farmers in small kilns, was later produced commercially in Sharon Valley’s first large kiln in 1814, Weed’s 1840 kiln in Calkinstown and the recently restored c1873 Sharon Valley kiln. Lime from these and other sources was used to neutralize acidic upland soils, make paint, plaster and many products. Gravel from kames and glaciolacustrene terraces was plentiful for the construction of roads and the making of concrete. With the advent of the 1825 blast furnace in town, the tree population began to dwindle because of the use of wood for charcoal. By the 1890s when larger, more productive dairy farms were in operation, more of the land was cleared for crops and grazing.

Today a portion of Sharon’s heritage lies in the archaeological treasures constructed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Not the least of these treasures are the many stone walls made by farmers clearing their fields annually of glacial droppings pushed to the surface by frost for over two hundred years. In the present period where rocks are selling for handsome profits, landowners must be encouraged not to disturb these important remnants of a strong agricultural period. Although there are no town ordinances concerning the preservation of rock holding and power dams on our streams, the regulations of the Sharon Inland Wetland and Watercourse Commission provide a control of any activities within two hundred feet of a watercourse. Where archaeologically important stone foundations are present, owners again have responsibilities.

In regions where any of our local bedrock formations crop out, care should be taken concerning construction of roads, buildings and drilling of wells.

Copyright 2015 Sharon Land Trust