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In Search of
The Cottingley Fairies

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Placed: 9-23-03
Placed By: WWW (Formerly known as Chuck and Molly)
Location: Hebron Connecticut, Tolland County
Rated: Easy

Clues Updated 5/21/07

About a .5 mile round trip walk, if you can drive to the trail head.
A little less than 1.5 miles if you have to park near route 85

Located at Gay City State Park, Route 85, Hebron CT.

Drive into the park entrance, past the winter parking area, and travel .4 of a mile to a small path on the right side of the road. The path has a sign labeling it as "Split Rock Trail". Total distance from the sign to the box is .25 of a mile. Follow the trail, just after passing a stone wall on the right, you come to a fork in the trail. Go on the trail to the left at 340 degrees. To find the Cottingley Fairies letterbox you must go to the spot where the glaciers of long ago deposited a boulder. Over many years this boulder broke apart into 3 large parts and a few smaller ones. This is a special place where trees grow from rock. Go about 5 feet behind the middle boulder, the tallest of the three, one of the special ones from which a tree grows. Under a pile of much smaller rocks is an opening partially covered by sticks. In the cavity is the prize. Just be careful that some other creatures haven’t crawled in there besides fairies. After finding your prize, return the way you came.

The Cottingley Fairies

In the summer of 1917, 16 year old Elsie Wright and her 9 year old cousin Francis Giffiths of Cottingley England were asked by Elsie’s parents why they kept going to Cottingley Beck, a brook in the woods. Francis answered that she went to see the fairies, and Elsie backed her up. Elsie and Francis were given a camera and basic instruction on how to use it and went into the woods behind the house to the brook. When they came back out of the woods, they had photographs as proof. Mr. Wright and Elsie went into the darkroom and developed the plate. To Mr. Wright’s amazement, there were Fairies. Elsie’s father was still not convinced and suspected a hoax. A month later Francis took a picture of Elsie with a gnome. Mr. Wright would not believe and the matter was ignored. In the summer of 1919 Mrs. Wright went to a meeting at the Theosophical Society in Bradford. She was interested in the occult, having had some experiences of astral projection and memories of past lives herself. The lecture that night was on `fairy life', and Polly mentioned that fairy photos had been taken by her daughter and niece. The result of this conversation was that two pictures came to the notice of Theosophists at the Harrogate conference in the autumn. This led to a leading Theosophist, Edward Gardner, to investigate in early 1920. This began a controversy which goes on to this day. Publicity spread and the fairies of Cottingley became famous. In 1920 The Strand magazine published an article entitled "An Epoch Making Event - Fairies Photographed". The pictures of the Cottingley Fairies confounded photographic experts and paranormal investigators. The controversy drew the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame. He was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt in the reality of the fairies in the photographs. He published The Coming of the Fairies in 1922. It told the story of the photographs, and the implications of their existence of fairies. In 1983 Elsi, aged 83 finally admitted that the photographs had been faked. She claims that they were pictures cut out of magazines. Hatpins held them up as the photographs were taken. Francis maintained to her dying day that she did see fairies and although the first 4 photos were faked, the fifth one was genuine. In 1990 Joe Cooper published a book "The Case of the Cottingley Fairies" which investigates the story. A Warner Bros Film "Fairy Tale - A True Story" was also made which tells the story of Frances, Elsie and the fairies. Whatever the truth is, the mystery continues even today. Learn more at the following websites.

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