THE CATSKILL GEOLOGISTS BY PROFESSORS ROBERT AND JOHANNA TITUS
Burroughs And Edison – At Woodchuck Lodge
One of the true treasures of the Catskills is the heritage of famed nature writer John Burroughs. We have long admired his writings, dating from the 1860’s to the 1920’s, and we are proud to have a complete set of his books in our library. Have you read any of Burroughs works? You really should; there are some very good anthologies available at local bookstores and at Amazon. One of them, “In the Catskills,” focuses on Burroughs Catskill essays. We have been invited to run a geology walk at Woodchuck Lodge, Burroughs’ summer home in Roxberry, that’s at 1:00 on Saturday, Oct 1st. We expect that Woodchuck Lodge will be open for tours on that day. But, not surprisingly, our focus will be on the geological history of the site. We plan to do an easy hike around the property and look at the evidence for its distant past. Burroughs favorite science was ornithology. He had a lifelong fascination with birds. But we always like to say that his second favorite science was geology and that is borne out by the many geological discussions he includes in his books. Another lifelong fascination? We think so.
Burroughs was well aware of the ice age history at Woodchuck Lodge, and we have spent time documenting some of it. His favorite single spot there was famed Boyhood Rock. See our first photo. He spent many an hour sitting upon it, no doubt contemplating the nature all around. So have we. We will visit that rock on our walk. It’s a very large boulder composed of local Devonian sandstone. That gives it an interesting Devonian history, but it is also a glacial erratic, brought there by a glacier descending south, down the valley. We will stand by Boyhood Rock and gaze into the past and envision the passage of the ice. Boyhood Rock is Burroughs gravesite, and we hope he will be listening. But there is something else. See our second photo. That’s John on the right. And that is Thomas Edison on the left. The photo is from an old book about Burroughs’ life and the caption claims that Burroughs was showing glacial striations to Edison – at Woodchuck Lodge. We are going to see if we can find that exact spot on our walk. If we can, then perhaps we can see what the two of them saw, some very good ice age history! We will be sharing a moment in time with two very great men.
Burroughs was likely the most famous and important person ever born and raised in our Catskills. Our walk will be a good introduction to the man – and his second favorite science.
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