High Tor

Help us preserve the stone structures and maintain the vibe High TOR NYS Wildlife Management Area in Middlesex (and the town of Naples) NY; at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake. Please contact the NYS DEC during their current public comment period and tell them to put added protections on the many stone mounds and standing stones there.

High Tor

High Tor NYS Wildlife Management Area is an ancient sacred site that needs to be preserved. Specifically its hundreds of stone mounds and thousands of standing stones--that are thousands of years old--need to have additional protections. The NYS DEC has opened up a public comment period about High Tor\'s future for the next ten years. Email them and tell them to put added protections on the stone mounds; preferably get them placed on the National Register of Historic Places. We also ask that you tell that activities should be limited in line with its history of being an ancient sacred site\--no logging, or other such activities that harm the flora or the fauna at High Tor.

What is so amazing about High Tor are its hundreds of stone mounds and thousands of related single stones. While many of these stone structures are dilapidated and seriously damaged some have weathered age well and are in incredible form. But as much as I wax poetic about High Tor\'s stone structures there is a certain \"je ne sais qoui\" about it (the geographical space), or its Spirit of Place/Genuis Loci,what others refer to as its vibe. It can be palpable, as well as well as moving and can profoundly influence your being and psyche\--if you are lucky.

We also feel that the state should give serious consideration to putting in a trail system that meanders close to some of the areas where the stone walls are concentrated so that people can better view them. Stonewall Jackson Park in West Virginia shows what is possible. They created a series of trails through their woods focused on the many stone mounds that are there, with names such as the Cairns Trail (see New Cairns Trail Links Past with Present at Stonewall Resort. We believe that this would draw people to visit High Tor and possibly bring in visitors outside of the region and help boost the local economy.

Email the NYS DEC

The Original Middlesex Site

There is much historic and archaeological history associated with Middlesex Township. The term "Middlesex Focus" used to describe Adena(an early Native American Culture) like activities and artifacts far from their homeland was developed based upon a find a few miles from High Tor, and was named after the town of Middlesex. Given the close proximity to High Tor one assumes that the stone structures were most likely built by the same people.

The Adena culture, also known as one of the mound builders was a Native American culture that lived during the Early Woodland period (1,000 BC to 0 AD.) They were centered around Chillicothe, Ohio with the core extending about 150 miles in each direction, but their influence extended well beyond 150 miles from Chillicothe, Ohio.

There are sites throughout Eastern America and southern Canada exhibiting Adena like mortuary practices that have been found. They are called Middlesex Focus, Middlesex Phase, or Middlesex Complex. This is thanks to William Augustus Ritchie (1903- 1995), a beloved former NYS Archaeologist.

Ritchie developed the concept of a Middlesex Focus based upon Adena Artifacts found on the eastern shore of Canandaigua Lake in the town of Middlesex, NY. Naming it after the town. In 1904 at a gravel pit on North Vine Valley Rd a deceased Native American was found sitting half way up, and one hand held a pipe. The Rochester Museum got the artifacts. Years later when Arthur C. Parker. became head of the Rochester Museum was an analysis done of the artifacts. Parker was a Seneca, who descended from the prophet Handsome Lake and whose father was Ely Parker the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for President Ulysses S. Grant. Interestingly he lived in Naples across the hill from High Tor.

It took a few more years until 1937 before Ritchie developed his Middlesex Focus. It is widely respected and used today to describe Adena like practices and artifacts far from their Ohio home.

High Tor straddles the towns of Middlesex and Naples NY. The site where the Adena like artifacts is only a few miles from High Tor. One has to believe that the same people habituated High Tor. So High Tor in many ways is the original Middlesex Phase site that archaeologists use to describe Adena like practices far from their heartland in Chillicothe, Ohio

About High Tor

The primary purposes of High Tor Wildlife Management Area (WMA) are for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA consists of approximately 6,800 acres. It has numerous ecological habitats with many steep wooded hills, gullies, eroded cliffs, and wetlands. The largest part of High Tor WMA is approximately 3,700 acres just east of the Village of Naples and is primarily scenic, steep wooded terrain. It is intersected by administrative truck trails usable as foot access to the more remote sections of the area. Immediately north of this area are about 2,200 acres of lowland marsh, forested wetland, and grassland which lies between State Routes 21 and 245, bordering Canandaigua Lake and extending up West River valley. This area is drained by the famous Naples Creek. East of the southern end of Canandaigua Lake is a third part of the area known as South Hill. This portion is composed primarily of 900 acres of overgrown fields with steep wooded hillsides.

Sacred Stones and Stone Structure

Several have been reporting about the stone mounds for some time, Clarks Gully Blog, Hi Tor Stone Monuments. Amateur archaeologist David Robinson in an article on Bare Hill for the Crooked Lake Review tells of the many Adena skeletons found in Vine Valley. In the same article he mentions the many stone mounds at South Hill that is part of High Tor, saying,

\“On South Hill, at a site mentioned by Parker, there are 17 stone mounds…extending downhill in a line, six degrees east of south. Not far away is a platform built of laid up stones in the form of a square and circle connected by a rectangle…
There are at least two other stone \"mounds\" on South Hill. Both are small solid circles built of laid-up stones, perhaps 10 or 12 feet in diameter. One is four feet high, the other only a foot high…
The 17 stone piles on South Hill were viewed by an archeologist from the New York State Department of Archeology in Albany, who stated that the piles of stones had not been made as a part of a field clearance project, but the stones had been stacked up to form small platforms.

It should be pointed out that the Seneca Nation believes it was born at South Hill. So High Tor has long history of being a sacred and important place.

So years ago New York State determined that aa bunch of stone mounds were not attributable to the field clearing operations of farmers. Who built them? Robinson hypothesis that either the Adena or Hopewell did.

But the stone mounds and standing stones are not confined to the top of South Hill. But they are found throughout High Tor and adjacent lands; as well as nearby Italy Hill State Forest. We are concerned that these mounds will be harmed, or even destroyed. In the same article Robinson notes how the town of Middlesex destroyed a fort that once stood on the top of Bare Hill,

The Old Fort cannot be seen today. Not only was the material that made up the fort dug up with a steam shovel in the early 1920s to provide road fill, but the Town of Middlesex highway crew dug down three feet deep around the spring at the site of the fort for still more road fill. All that is left of the site of the fort is a three-foot-deep hole in the ground about 45 feet wide and 75 feet long. It is assumed that the ground around the spring was softer than that farther away, and it was worth the effort to obtain road fill there.

Sadly we have seen additional carnage to the sacred stones and stone structures in the Canandaigua Highlands Unit. Canandaigua's Daily Messenger in talks about the concerns over logging activity in Italy State Forest,

Concerns range from runoff polluting the lake to the use of pesticides, and the disturbance of what some believe are historic and culturally significant rock formations.
A number of years ago, Schewe began researching and documenting these stone piles. He has pinpointed some 300 in the region. There is no proof, but he believes plenty of evidence suggests these structurally impressive rock formations, which fit patterns in size and shape, were manmade during a prehistoric period.
“I believe that the people who built these stone piles pre-dated the Seneca,” said Schewe, who measured and took photos of several stone cairns with like-minded folks. They included Annette Toaspern, with the Jerusalem History Club in Yates County, and Donna Noteware, regional trail coordinator for the Bristol Hills Finger Lakes Trail.

The state listened and agreed to have loggers avoid cutting trees in close proximity to stone mounds.

Sadly this arrangement has not prevented sacred stones from being damaged. Below is a picture of some sacred stones madis Senner took a year after the Daily Messenger article and the DEC said that they would protect the stone mounds at Italy Hill.

The large flat stones are Platform Stones and are very similar to the ones found on South Hill in the area that Robinson talks about. The upright stone is referred to as a Manitou Stone and are considered sacred stones found across much of the northeast.

State Nature and Historical Preserve:

There are some protections in place. There is no camping or fires allowed in High Tor.

There are two areas on High Tor WMA that are dedicated to the State Nature and Historical Preserve (SNHP). The SNHP consists of select state lands to be preserved and administered for the use and enjoyment of the people because of their natural beauty, wilderness character, or geological, ecological or historical significance. SNHP on High Tor WMA includes:
*Clark Gully, approximately 150 acres, is located on the South Hill section, and was included in the SNHP because of its scenic gorge and \“hanging falls.\”
*Parrish Gully (more commonly known as Conklin Gully), approximately 290 acres, is located on the Hatch Hill section, and was included in the SNHP due to its unique rock outcroppings and its interest to geologists.

It's All About the Vibe

Imagine if you could go back in time 2,000, or even 3,000 years, or more, to when the mound builders inhabited much of the Eastern United States. Imagine if you could visit one of their sacred sites and feel the charged atmosphere of their spiritual practices as you sat next to one of their mounds. Can you feel the chills running up and down your spine as you cry for a vision and tap into the collective consciousness of the thousands that have been here centuries before you? Feel their thoughts, as they help elevate your consciousness, bring you closer to the Great Spirit, open up lines of communication to other worlds, and give you visions while healing you.

So began the introduction from Madis' book Sacred Sites in North Star Country to High Tor NYS DEC Wildlife Management Area. High Tor has the ability to dramatically influence you, well up ecstatic experiences, send you on mystical journeys and bless you with profound insights and knowledge.,

High Tor has a long history of being a sacred site. Within it is South Hill, or Nundawao, where the Seneca people were born. According to legend it is at Nundawao that the earth divided and the Seneca people emerged. The Seneca refer to themselves as “Onodowaga,” or “people of the great hill.” It is located next to \“Kanandague,\” or the chosen spot. This is from where Canandaigua Lake gets its name.

Carl Jung understood the power of the land to shape us and believed that our collective unconscious, that contained our archetypes and instincts that exert a powerful influence upon us, was buried in the land. In ‘Mind and Earth’, Jung states that archetypes are the “hidden foundation of the conscious mind.” To describe how our consciousness has developed, he used the metaphor of the construction of a building: Its “upper story was erected in the nineteenth century, its ground floor dates back to the sixteenth century, and careful examination of the masonry reveals that it was reconstructed from a tower built in the eleventh century. In the cellar we come upon Roman foundations, and under the cellar a choked-up cave with Neolithic tools in the upper layer and remnants of fauna from the same period in the lower level."

Jung felt so strongly about the power of the land to control us that he believed America was not a nation of European immigrants, but had a Native American soul. He said, \“The foreign land assimilates its conqueror …. Our contact with the unconscious chains us to the earth and makes it hard for us to move.” Put another way, the conqueror is conquered by the conquered. Jung points out how Australian Aborigines believe one cannot conquer a foreign soil because the ancestor spirits that dwell in the soil will reincarnate in the invader.

If High Tor were Jung’s mythical building floor, upon floor, upon floor would consist of the imprints/memories of Indigenous people vision questing, praying and doing ceremony; creating a potent elixir that can grab you. Several can attest to this, having had some incredible mystical experiences, have gotten great insights, or had epiphanies while meditating at High Tor.

The stone mounds need to be preserved, but they PALL IN COMPARISON TO THE VIBE AT HIGH TOR. Please tell the DEC to eliminate logging and other harmful activities.

Clarks Gully Blog contains lots of pictures of the stone mounds.

High Tor Wildlife Management Area, NYS DEC website

Canandaigua Highlands Unit Management Plan (UMP), includes High Tor and Italy Hill State Forest

Fact Sheet on the Canandaigua Unit Management Plan

Hi Tor Stone Monuments an old blog with some pictures