Friday, February 20, 2015

Nuclear Lake NY

   “Believe it or not, there's a lake off Route 55 near Pawling in eastern Dutchess County with the rather unusual name of Nuclear Lake. How on earth did it get that name?  It's certainly not something the local Chamber of Commerce would choose.  Well, it apparently was named when a former hunting preserve around the lake was purchased in 1955 by an outfit called Nuclear Development Associates.
The following, from Hike the Hudson Valley, has an amusing take on it all: ‘I know what you’re thinking.  Why would I ever want to visit a place called Nuclear Lake?  Well, let me set your mind at ease.  The only reason it’s even called Nuclear Lake (you’re going to think this is so funny when you hear it), is that in 1972, a chemical explosion blew out two windows in the experimental nuclear research lab that used to sit on the shore of the lake, blasting an unspecified amount of bomb-grade plutonium across the lake and surrounding woods. 
      See?  I bet you thought it was something bad.’

     “Now for some more strangeness.  At the north end of the lake, there are a bunch of stone walls in the woods.  Not normal stone walls like I'm familiar with - the straight walls that once lined farmer's fields but now lie in the woods as some hardscrabble farms were abandoned a century ago.  No, these stone walls ran up and down hills in curved paths.  Not marking farmer's fields either since no one could farm anything on the steep, stony hillsides around this part of the lake.”
A curvy stone wall running to the lakeshore. 
Another zig-zagging wall
   Who the hell builds a rock wall that zig-zags up the hill?  It's certainly not marking anyone's property line.  Another ran parallel the shoreline.  Why do that?
Is there a point to this?
Wall went around this mound
    One area had a wall encircling an artificial hill of stone.  It looked like a ritual space to me.
Another wall enclosed a rectangular area but was too sloppy to be a building foundation.
Not a foundation - Again, what's the point?
     Very strange.  Who built all of these stone walls (there were a lot of them!) that are running willy-nilly all over the place and why?"

21 comments :

Jeff Green said...

"Not marking farmer's fields either since no one could farm anything on the steep, stony hillsides around this part of the lake.”

It wasn't that long ago where every one of our hillsides were denuded of trees for farming, mostly cattle and sheep. As to why a stone wall would line the shore? Drain the lake and you'll see why. The hillsides continue down to the bed of the original creek and stone walls were used to keep cattle out of the creeks. When the property changed hands and became a weekend estate the dam was built and the valley flooded. It wasn't until years later that the United Nuclear Company bought the estate, enlarged the dam and built their facility there.

Tim MacSweeney said...

I'd like a close look at this "stone wall:" http://binged.it/1zvXNvm

Tim MacSweeney said...

And did you notice the comment on Mr. Hudson Geologist's page? "You might want to contact Evan Pritchard (Tim Timrek's amigo) at http://www.wilkesweb.us/algonquin/. He probably knows about the stone structures. The early Algonquin peoples in the area built many of them."

Tim MacSweeney said...

(Ted Timrek, I meant)

Tim MacSweeney said...

Pritchard wrote: Voice of the Turtle

http://rockpiles.blogspot.com/2006/07/voice-of-turtle-sent-in-by-tim.html

Jeff Green said...

Yeah, I see a crooked stone wall, one that might have moved due to subsidence of the hillside it's built on or the guy who built it was less concerned about straightness and more about gathering up the rocks.

And why, WHY can't locals have built anything? Why does it always have to go back to the Indians? I don't get it. Evan, whom I am aware of, has his take on things but not this.

Look, it's a farmer's stone wall, plain and simple. The valley has been settled for more than a 100 years with several owners over that time. As early as 1858 the Dennis family lived on the property and by 1867 the Slocum's were there. I don't have the record for who bought it after them but only know it was a gentleman farmer. He didn't clear the land but he did build the dam flooding the valley. And, if you drain the lake you'll see extensions of stone walls demarcating smaller fields lining the creek.

Jeff Green said...

I also want to talk about the boom at the outlet of the lake. It's there to catch debris, fallen trees and whatnot to stop them from clogging the outflow stream. Common sense, really.

47barolo said...

Those are clearly Indian walls. Farmers spending the immense time and money to build them is absurd.... but that is the conventional wisdom. Dave C.

Jeff Green said...

There's no money involved in clearing rising stones from a field and piling them on the edges and New England is filled with such.

Anyway, I live nearby and I've walked that property scores of times and it's clear that the walls were built to keep livestock from the wetlands near the (now flooded) creek, to avoid cattle injuring themselves and improve the health of the land for better grazing.

However, if you insist on the Indian fantasy then please, have at it!

Tim MacSweeney said...

Jeff: I contend that the estimated "quarter million miles" of stone walls in NY & NE may be more indicative of the control of the fires Indigenous People used to tend their Cultural landscape for a very long time (thousands of years) than the very short time of European style agriculture and animal husbandry. If I were walking along the serpentine rows of stones around Nuke Lake, I'd be looking for many different features in their construction - that includes boulders or stones that resemble a serpent-like head. There's a bunch of examples at my blog: http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Jeff, please, have you ever tired to lift some of those stonesw in the rows? No money? We have rows here in DE from blue granite that would take 6-8 or more strong men to move - guess they worked for free? And piling up stones is not the same as building a row that runs for miles. The effort to build even a small row is enormous.

Jeff Green said...

"The effort to build even a small row is enormous."

We fat and comfortable modern day Americans too quickly forget what a man, a pike (or a sledge) and a strong horse can do. We also forget that frontier families and later settlers had large families specifically to help in the fields.

Some farmers hired people to build their walls for them but most built their own simply by piling rocks in groups and then pulling from them to construct the wall. And anyone who worked the land knew how. It's a skill largely forgotten - at least here in the US. On the other hand, there are still people in the world who do manual labor and for them building a stone wall is just part of a day's work. Crofters in the British Isles are still quite adept at it.

I watched 5 men build a 2800' wall over 17 days without the use of mortar from pallets of field stone.

http://img0.liveinternet.ru/images/attach/c/7/96/835/96835236_5705403884_50b090c68c_z.jpg

However, if you're suggesting that natives had some mystical power that could move large boulders without the use of horses or block and tackle (around since Rome) then I'm done with this conversation.

Tim MacSweeney said...

Is there any reason Indigenous People might have a need to build those things we have been taught to think of as stone walls? What role(s) could Indigenous made and maintained rows of stone serve on a Pre-contact Indigenous Fire Tended Cultural Landscape? Would any pragmatic function of Indigenous stonework be considered a “dire need,” such as need for fuel breaks in a crowded corner of Turtle Island? Knowing Indigenous People here did not separate the Spiritual world from "the land we eat from,"can patterns of stacking along with inclusions of possible effigies be observed in the stonework that is similar to designs found in other Indigenous artwork, infusing the Spiritual attributes, the Manitou, of various magical beings such the Great Serpent or Great Turtle (or the animals who also live and "eat" there - bears, deer and birds etc.) into the object itself, things like ceramic pottery, other rock art, beading and so much more? http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2015/02/stone-walls-on-formerly-fire-tended.html

Jeff Green said...

"Would any pragmatic function of Indigenous stonework be considered a “dire need,”

I'd first need to see several examples of 'indigenous stonework' in the form of the dry rock linear walls like the one we're talking about.

Tim MacSweeney said...

There are some examples here ~ http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2014/07/turtle-parts-looking-for-nuchal.html
Between this blog, and the included links above - there should be a few thousand other examples...

Tim MacSweeney said...

http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2014/05/if-it-looks-like-duck-or-turtle.html

http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2014/05/if-it-looks-like-duck-or-turtle.html

Tim MacSweeney said...

If there are many free standing stone concentrations/constructions that resemble animals, both actual and legendary, that figured highly in the Indigenous People of Turtle Island (Native Americans of North America) Worldview – the turtle, bear and deer etc. along with the Great Serpents etc, - then who was more likely to have the time and motivation to create this artwork?
If those same techniques of artwork can be found in those longer piles of stones most often called “stone walls” then again, who was most likely to have the time and motivation to create this artwork?
If the Indigenous People of Turtle Island (Native Americans of North America) maintained the landscape with fire then how were those fires controlled, especially in areas of dense population?
If Paleo-Indians (the Ancestors of the Indigenous People of Turtle Island) made “sophisticated prehistoric stone walls deep beneath the surface of Lake Huron,” the most recent find described as “two stone lines forming a lane about 30 metres long and eight metres wide which ended in a corral-type structure” with “hunting blinds built into the sides as well as other lanes and structures,” then why not elsewhere on Turtle Island?
If: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/02/lake-huron-hunting-wall_n_5253041.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000044&ir=Green, then this just might create a null hypothesis of this: http://stonewall.uconn.edu/investigation/pre-european-contact/

Jeff Green said...

Man look, we're talking about your run of the mill farmers' walls here, at least that's where we started.

Tim MacSweeney said...

A closer look at the stacking methods needs to be taken. Casually dismissing all stone walls as Post Contact constructions is a method of ethnically cleansing Indigenous People from the landscape.

Tommy Hudson said...

Dang! I missed this one. Let me say, that here in north Georgia, there are historic stone constructions. They are obvious to me, and, I should say, to others who are interested. If they are over 100 (?) years old the federal government considers them to be a significant cultural resource, and if federal money is involved, they must be delt with in a responsible way. I have been involved with over twelve sites that were tested and dated. In all but one case, it was demonstrated that they were prehistoric, even in the face of much vocal opposition. For me, the bottom line is, they must be considered prehistoric unless proven otherwise. We must err on the side of caution. To do otherwise is to repeat the many mistakes of the past.
I'm done. "......suffer me your slings and arrows."
Did I just get the last word on this? Yay me!

Tim MacSweeney said...

So, Mr. Hudson: what evidence showed that the 11 proved to be Pre-Contact?