Friday, January 30, 2015

Remember This

     I've never been to Mount Rushmore. It's tough to get to South Dakota and back between milkings so I'll probably never go. But I've seen pictures. I know it's there and I know what Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln looked like because the Borglum's took on the task of carving their likeness into stone. It connects us with some of the men who've shaped our country.
     There's nothing like Mount Rushmore in Washington County. Or is there. While the scale here may be smaller, the human urge to remember the past and memorialize it is strong. Think of cemeteries and the stones that bear witness to lives that might otherwise be forgotten. Sometimes I walk thru the little backroads graveyards imagining what times were like for those buried there.  In 2009 Charles and Gaynelle Moore completed the daunting task of reading and recording every marker in every cemetery in the county. You can access their research thru the Washington County Historical Society.

     Scattered across the landscape are other monuments that commemorate a variety of things: battles and historical events, buildings, roads and boundaries. Meant to remind us of the past, they are often inconspicuous and ignored. That's a shame because someone went to considerable effort to place them, creating a tangible record of our heritage. Here's a few I've come across in my travels.

Old White Church built 1797 in Salem

                                                                    Site of White Creek Fort in Salem
Mile markers along Great Northern Turnpike. Stage Road and Turnpike Roads from Buskirk to Cambridge, then Rt. 22 north.

                                                       Rexleigh Covered Bridge over the Battenkill

Shushan Veterans Memorial

Interesting rock: a breccia with limestone clasts in a dark matrix?  

A common template for historical markers seems to be a large boulder with a bronze plaque attached. Several of these boulders appear to be Chesire quartzite, a very hard metamorphic rock that crops out in a belt along the western edge of the Green Mountains in Vermont. I wonder, did people bring them into Washington County or were they transported by the glacier and left as erratics? Maybe just by being here they mark an event pre-dating our history, namely, the Ice Age.

Boundary marker on Black Hole Hollow Road

                                                                     Boundary marker on State Line Road

One of several stone pillars on Chestnut Hill Road

     Well, it's time for me to get back to the barn and I'm sure you've got things to do as well
(hopefully not involving needy cows, frozen waterers and gelled diesel fuel). Thanks for taking a minute to view my little collection of monuments. People have lived here since the ice melted 13,000 years ago. That's a lot of growing, building and, sadly, fighting. What our ancestors have done goes a long way towards defining this place. The least we can do is to take a short break from our busy lives to remember them. There's lots of reminders out there, if you look.

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