In Plainfield, Storm Washes Up a Mystery

Plainfield — Steven Roland emerged from his home early Wednesday morning to examine the damage.

After the second day of flash flooding, Hell Hollow Road in Plainfield was a battleground of gullies and ditches. Flattened grass and torn roots surrounded Roland, but only a small pile of gravel had washed up on the other side of the road. He breathed a sigh of relief. The house he and his wife have shared for 45 years was mostly unscathed — even with Blood Brook running nearby, threatening to flood.

Then he noticed something odd, about 25 to 30 feet away from the brook.

“It looked like flat layer of sand,” he said. That’s interesting, he thought. He went over to investigate.

Sticking out of the soil was a flat and smooth saucer-looking object.

“I realized it was a big stone with a square cutout in the middle,” Roland said.

He called his neighbors Bob Porthouse and Ida Burroughs over. He said it looked like a large millstone.

With Porthouse’s tractor and his own, they hauled the stone out of the ground and placed it farther up the hill on the roadside.

They took pictures, made jokes. But they don’t know how it ended up in Roland’s yard. And in Plainfield, the stone’s origin has become something of a mystery, a lighter topic after a devastating week of damage.

“We don’t know anything about it really,” said Porthouse. “We haven’t even flipped it over.”

Porthouse guessed that the stone weighs more than a ton. As of last week, it was propped up on three logs of firewood in Roland’s yard, resting along Hell Hollow in the shade.

Roland’s discovery was Wednesday. On Thursday, he took his stone questions to the Plainfield Historical Society.

It’s 62 inches in diameter, he said. About 7 1/2 inches thick. Probably a millstone. “But I don’t know where it came from,” he said.

Nancy Norwalk, who works at the Philip Read Memorial Library in Plainfield, reasoned that a millstone would have come from a nearby grist mill.

She researched the town history and conferred with Fred Sweet, who served as Plainfield’s Treasurer for 53 years.

Their conclusion: “There are no grist mills in that area.”

It is possible that there used to be three grist mills to the west of Hell Hollow Road, Norwalk said. One on Mill Village Road, another off Daniels Road, a third on an unmarked segment of Stage Road, which intersects with Hell Hollow Road after a two-mile drive.

“But those are all a little far for a millstone to travel,” she said. “Maybe it’s from Cornish.”

Hell Hollow Road borders the Cornish line, so it’s not too far fetched, she added.

Attempts to reach officials at the Cornish town office on Friday were not successful.

But Roland said he has another theory based on information from Choice White Pines and Good Land , a book on Plainfield history.

“There’s indication (in the book) that this area was once a tannery,” Roland said of his home.

His wife, Sydell Roland, said the stone could have helped gear a water-powered machine. On Friday afternoon, she and Porthouse and Burroughs stood near the stone and fueled the mystery with more guessing. They all agreed: The stone’s arrival has been a nice diversion, especially with the amount of flood damage done to Hell Hollow Road in the last week.

“It’ll be part of our garden landscape,” Sydell Roland joked.

“Yeah, $10 admission just to see it!” Porthouse said with a grin.

Zack Peterson can be reached at 603-727-3211 or