Rock House Reservation – West Brookfield, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Rock House Reservation

West Brookfield, Massachusetts

A rock outcropping left by a glacier that made itself useful throughout the centuries. 


In its retreat during the last Ice Age, the Wisconsin Glacier left its impressive mark on the New England landscape in the form of unique rock outcroppings deposited in seemingly unlikely places. 

Rock House Reservation is home to two of these geological intrigues, Balance Rock, and the Rock House Shelter, which is the more interesting of the two. This 30-foot formation creates a natural shelter, believed to be used as a camp or possibly a meeting place by Native Americans once the ice shelf had retreated. When the colonists came, a farm was built around the rock house, and for 125 years it remained a central part of the well-tended 281-acres that surrounded it.

In the 19th century, it was once again put to good use by the trolley, acting as a popular stop on the “Copper Line” between West Brookfield and Ware. In 1930, Arthur Carter (the descendant of the original colonists who owned it at that time) built himself a little retreat on the property, adding a cabin and building a dam so that he could enjoy a pond, which is, even today, named Carter Pond after its creator. The pond is now a central attraction that has enhanced the beauty of the property even more.

The land was gifted to the Trustees of Reservations in 1993, and since then, the cabin has been redesigned to hold the Trailside Museum, and the property is open to the public to enjoy, offering horseback riding, cross-country skiing, hiking, and even hunting on certain designated parts of the property. People are welcome to show up all year round, from sunrise to sunset, and enjoy the landscape, the pond, and the rock that’s practically a house, compliments of the Ice Age.

Know Before You Go

From the Mass Turnpike (Exit 8), take Rt. 32 North toward Ware where it joins Rt. 9. Stay on combined Rt. 32/9. When the routes separate, follow Rt. 9 East for 1.1 mi. to entrance and parking (12 cars) on left.

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