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Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Trip from A Different Time, last week

It has been a week since we came back from Lake Hope. One week ago today we were exploring the Moonville Tunnel. Walking the dark, brick lined passage through the hill. Looking for a ghost. I am almost glad we didn't find one, imagine that conversation. I thought about getting an app for my phone to locate spirits, but decided against it. Probably just as well, since there was no service, no phone, no data, nothing, it probably wouldn't have done any good. 

The cabin we stayed in didn't have an alarm clock, and my wife needs to know what time it is when she wakes up in the night. An odd personality quirk, but considering who she is married to it seems almost like a virtue. So, I downloaded an App on my phone while we were enjoying tacos and potato oles at Taco John's (free wifi, potato oles and a spicy green sauce so tasty exporting it to Mexico was the driving force behind NAFTA). Unfortunately, there wasn't enough connection at the cabin to make the app work. So she had to guess, and we had to look for ghosts the old fashioned way, with our senses. It didn't work, the Moonville Ghost eluded us this time, but we will be back, armed with apps (if they don't require data, or phone connection), nets, and a renewed dedication. 

We also went looking for Moonville, but came up empty. We did find a string of poles, like the one on the left. Silent, decaying guides to the heart of Moonville. Many so close to the path you could almost touch them, but almost hidden in the dense green of the southern Ohio forest. We followed them, each one calling us, "follow me, I know the way." A haunted, lonely relic of a time long ago, I don't know if they carried electric lines, telegraph signals, telephone, but I do know they stood, most of them (a few had fallen), proud, solitary, and defiant. Daring time and decay to topple them. 

Unfortunately, we ran into a stream, it wasn't deep, it wasn't rapid, but we were not dressed for an amphibious landing. We turned back. Next time we will find the abandoned town, what is left of it. And the cemetary, and we will offer our respect and sorrow. We will take a few bags with us to pick up the trash left by the careless or the indifferent. Knowing full well it will only make a small difference. Saddened by the fact that we have to do it at all. 

We also went to the Hope Furnace. It is an abandoned icon of the distant past. A time when industry ruled the area. Now it is a tourist attraction. A remnant of a forgotten era. A giant, indecipherable rune that once transformed iron into bullets. Testifying to the hearty people who toiled here. I hope it will stand forever.

It was an amazing building. The stones were cut with such precision. Huge boulders, chipped away, and made to fit into place by hand, it had to be intensive, tortuous labor performed by hand. I salute the men who built it. 

If you are lucky enough to visit the Hope Furnace do everybody a favor and throw a few dollars in the steel pole that serves as an offering plate.

On the way home we stopped at the Nelsonville Brick Factory. Just three buildings losing their battle with the inexorable grip of Mother Nature. Nelsonville somehow survived the collapse of its Industrial Age, unlike Moonville and Hope, but the melancholy may be more profound because of the continued existence. No real effort is being made to preserve the odd, inconsistent beauty of the rough, slightly irregular buildings that had been the lifeblood of so many. Eventually the plants will tear the buildings to pieces, the bricks will crumble and nobody will even notice. "For you are dust and to dust ye shall return."

In one last insult to the forgotten labor and pride of the people who had made their living here someone had hung laundry to dry in one of the buildings. Two lines of rope spread from one wall the other covered with underwear. It was the oddest sight of the whole trip. I found it slightly unsettling, disturbing.

It was a great trip, and we had a wonderful time. It has been a long post and I haven't even talked about the kayaking around the lake. Oh, that lake, the primitive beauty of that lake. The way the shore shoots almost straight up out of the lake. Tree covered hills climbing from the lillypads and fallen logs that cling to the edges. The inky black water reflecting the clouds, sun in a stark, supernatural way, if you believe in God you will see his artistry here. If you don't this might convert you. If you are not moved to a sense of greater purpose of some kind by the vistas of this lake you are made of sterner stuff than I. But, that is another post.