From Dave Brigham:
Longtime blog readers will recall that I date my discovery of the concept of "the backside" to a canoe trip down the Farmington River I took with my dad when I was 12 years old or so (see this blog's inaugural post, March 2, 2010, "Take Me to the River"). Like rivers, railroad tracks provide a great view of the oft-hidden side of cities and towns. We've posted countless times about abandoned tracks, trestles and trains. Here are a few links:
- December 11, 2012, "Concord, Part III: New Haven rail bed"
- November 4, 2010, "Can You Ever Get Enough of Train Tracks?"
- September 21, 2010, "Caboose On the Loose"
- June 8, 2010, "Meet Me at the Station (We'll Find a Way In)"
In this age of railroad downsizing, many former track beds have been turned into bike paths. While I love stumbling across abandoned train tracks, I also love riding my bike, and if I can do it on the backside of America, all the better.
Vacationing on Cape Cod recently, my wife, kids and I took to the Shining Sea Bikeway. Constructed along the former Penn Central Railroad right-of-way (and, before that, ancient Native American trails), the bike path stretches nearly 11 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole.
We rode about three miles south from the northern terminus, and then u-turned and headed back. Along the way we passed houses, restaurants (including the Silver Lounge, which features an old caboose), cranberry bogs, small farms and conservation land.
We also came across the Buzzard's Nest, sort of a poor man's Paradise Garden, the folk-art world of wonders in Georgia erected by Rev. Howard Finster.
There was nobody around, and an Internet search turned up nothing. I have no idea who set this place up or for what reason. A deep dive into Google Maps reveals a few tantalizing clues: the words "TAX IT ALL DEVAL PATRICK" written in chalk at the end of the driveway leading to the property, a reference to the former Massachusetts governor; a hand-painted sign at the end of the driveway that says, "NO BAG AT DUMP TAX"; another sign for ABC Services offering "DUMP RUNS." A flagpole with the Stars & Stripes and an anchor sit on opposite sides of the dirt driveway, which disappears into the woods.
Just north of the Buzzard's Nest is an overpass with some cool graffiti.
Finally, as we were just about back to where we'd started, I noticed this lovely little memorial.