Saturday, October 18, 2008

10/18/08 GPS for MCHP

An important part of our Maine Community Heritage Project is gathering GPS coordinates of all of our locations so that we can pinpoint locations of the places we're talking about on a map. Then using GIS sofware (Geographic Information Systems), we can create these cool, layered maps. We can also create "layers" for Google Earth and we hope to create walking tours where folks can see the places in the photos we're scanning but also see where the places are. I'm not describing it very well, but trust me . . . it's gonna be cool!

Today, MRM and Nancy and I got in MRM's car and started driving all around Farmington and Farmington Falls. Nancy knew where we were going and navigated. For our first stop, she said, "Turn right. Now slow down. Turn in here." And we parked next to a logging truck on an empty lot:

Turns out, that was the site of Farmington Falls School. Wow. You gotta really know your local history to know that. There were zero signs, no indicators, she just knew. Good thing we're capturing this information now! Here are the other places we went to today:

On north side of river (I forgot to ask the name of the river . . . good thing we're on a team), site of Farmington Falls Mill (can't tell you which one . . . one of the things we're learning is that the same site would change hands many times and even what was milled in the building would change):

Sorry these aren't very flattering photos or even very interesting ones. I had my iPhone in one hand taking pictures while trying to upload them to Loopt online service where you can share with friends your current location (yes GPS wise or in my case by using triangulation from cell phone towers) and what you're doing. In the other hand I had a second GPS and was confirming the numbers that MRM was getting and Nancy was writing it all down.

On south side of river . . . another mill in Farmington Falls:

Oops, I didn't get the name of this cemetery:

Two photos of Measuring Rock . . . one of the surveyor's spike (hey! I saw one of those earlier this year on the Appalachian Trail hike!) and the other of MRM getting the EXACT GPS coordinates by climbing on top of the rock. :-) When the first settlers came, they didn't have surveyor's tools so they improvised. They picked this really big rock as their starting point. It stands out, is easily located, and is somewhatly central. Then, because they didn't have traditional surveyor's chains that are one rod long, they took pieces of bark and made rods. And then they set out to mark off the land into plots. Today's surveyors are impressed at how accurate their measurements were and nobody's every changed their property lines.

And a very friendly dog at the private home on whose property Measuring Rock is located. Fortunately, Nancy knew the family so when they came out to see who was climbing on their rock, they were delighted to see Nancy and they welcomed us. Shwew!

Heading back to the car after measuring the Measuring Rock:

Next was Gower Cemetery. It was a short but steep climb from the road to the cemetery. The other cemeteries are right next to the road. This one is NOT visible from the road and you really have to know where you're going to find it. This is such an adventure!!

This is a little cemetery and only has 2 headstones in it.

This person fought in the American Revolution as denoted by the Sons of the American Revolution marker next to the grave.

This is the site of Stephen Titcomb's House. It burned down in the 1950's and the site was razed and the basement filled in so there is NO sign of it ever being here. Nancy wasn't sure exactly where in this field it was located so we got to pick. ;-) She did know it was below the knoll and above the pine trees and visible from the road, so were pretty close.

Case cemetery:

We're now back in Farmington, north of Farmington Falls (we actually might have been back in Farmington 2 stops ago, I don't really know, but I know for sure in this photo we're back in town). It's the site of a school. Nancy knows which one. I was focused on my technology and didn't get it written down. I remembered it had the same last name as the man whose house is up the road a little bit but I don't remember the name. There are many advantages to having a great forgetter but when you're dealing with history, it's not an advantage. Fortunately, my role is about the technology and getting future teachers involved which I can do and do well even with a good forgetter. Melanie found an apple, which we thought was pretty ironic since we were at the site of a school. But then again, it was kind of creepy because there were no apple trees in sight, so where did that apple come from??

Now that is a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. :-)

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