Frog Rock being made into Connecticut tourist stop - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Frog Rock being made into Connecticut tourist stop

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EASTFORD, CT ( WFSB) -

If you've traveled around the state, you may have seen some of the unique painted rocks that dot the Connecticut landscape. There's a dog, a turtle, an eagle and a frog.

In a special series, Eyewitness News showed the history and story behind the painted rocks, with one of them falling on some tough times.

Frog rock, over in the quiet corner, had started to fade away and now the new owner is trying to turn it back into a tourist stop along Route 44 between Pomfret and Eastford.

A new sign was installed and is alerting travelers to a hidden gem lurking in the woods.

"It's always been close to our family," said Betty Thurber, who is a relative of the original painter.

The Frog Rock was painted in 1881 by state Rep. T.J. Thurber and for many decades, the rest stop has been popular for people traveling on Route 44 headed from the Hartford area to Providence or Cape Cod.

However, once the road was straightened, it was left isolated and attractive to vandals.

"It was sort of sad to see it had fallen into disrepair because it had picnic benches and people came here to have picnic lunches," Thurber said.

The state offered the land to the neighboring towns for free, but neither would take on the responsibility.

So they put it up for bid, and Joe Lernould won with a $27,000 bid.

"Years ago, I used to come here when I was a little guy with my parents," Lernould said. "We used to stop and have picnics."

Several months ago, the picnic tables and grounds were overgrown. Lernould took ownership in January and took months to clean the place up.

"To get the Frog Rock ready to greet visitors by Memorial Day weekend," Lernould said. "Through the road which used to be Route 44 there were trees probably this big around that were growing through. So we had to clean those out first."

Of course, the frog itself got a fresh coat of paint too. Lernould said he also put in a visitors center and gift shop, along with a food truck, and more picnic tables.

On the weekends, Lernould said he estimates 100 people a day stop by.

"Unbelievable, I would say two-thirds of the people that come are people that used to come when they were children," Lernould said. "I even had one lady from Florida come and give me a hug that it was open again. It's fantastic."

Lernould said it's gone so well so far, they're planning for more buildings in the future to properly showcase a lasting piece of Connecticut's history. The rest stop will be open through the rest of the summer until Columbus Day weekend.

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