Before the glaciers bid us adieu they shaped our town. As the huge sheets of ice moved to and fro they broke up a lot of the bedrock beneath them into smaller pieces and dragged those pieces with them hither and yon, thus forming the countless rocks that are found in our area, many now seen as our treasured stone walls.
Those glaciers also left the soil behind in various layers of thickness and account for the fertile environment we have for plants here. Very importantly, they dug out valleys and formed hills, and as some of the ice began to melt it seeped deep into the bedrock, washed out valleys, dammed up in places, finally broke free, and further shaped the drainage of our land with rivers and smaller streams.
As the plot thickens over the coming pages, it will become clear that Easton’s riparian complexion was key to its ability to support the settlers that came as well as the Native Americans who preceded them.
Lakes, ponds, and streams attract many animals looking for the food that can be found in those bodies of water in the way of plants and fish. And of course, all animals need water to survive. The streams themselves became important sources of hydraulic/mechanical power before the appearance of steam engines and internal combustion engines and electric engines. And as we shall see in the final chapter, those rivers and brooks and underground aquifers are key to Easton’s ability to support its current residents as well.
With the disappearance of the glaciers over our land, tundra plants had taken hold by about 15,000 years ago where previously there had been no vegetation. It wasn’t very far south of here that the ice sheets stopped so the plant life and the other living creatures that come along with it didn’t have too far to travel to populate Easton.
Not too long after the first plants took hold, more substantial plants moved in. Archeobotanical research says that by 14,000 years ago we had forests in Connecticut consisting of spruce and fir and similar boreal conifers, which were then supplanted largely by white pine.
By 10,000 B.C., those forests had been replaced by hardwood forests of oak, maple, and cedar and then reached the stage known as “climax forest,” basically, a forest in which the variety of plants stabilizes until a major external event, such as a fire or blight changes it. With these forests came an environment with a good food supply for man and animal. That food supply was in the form of plants and fruits and berries and in the form of the many other animals that also fed on these things.
Between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago the first humans showed up in the area that we now call Easton, Connecticut. How did that happen? Well they didn’t take Metro-North.
Next week: The first human inhabitants.