Author Topic: Eureka!  (Read 552 times)

Peter S

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2019, 06:55:19 AM »
Where the countryside is well-tended the signs of an ancient footpath are small yellow discs with arrows on, nailed to gate posts. Or blue for bridle paths, and sometimes other colours with add-on designs for created “ways” such as the Cotswold Way, Monarch’s Way, Ridgeway etc. Where the countryside is less well-tended the gateposts have often fallen over and the discs come adrift.
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BlueTrain

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2019, 12:39:58 PM »
I think it is interesting how man-made changes to the land persist through the decades and even the centuries. That is, until something like a huge building, even a Wal-Mart, is built over them. True, around here, there's nothing older than four hundred years except for Indian Mounds and those are a couple hundred miles to the west of here. There are lots of old things in the Southwest, Mexico and South America, though.

Evidence of roadways persist even if the place has been farmed for hundreds of years, although it is difficult to detect on the ground. But the earliest roads usually continue in use, usually with improvements, until bypassed or covered over with a super highway. That's even more true of railroad beds that have gone out of use. I can think of a few abandoned roads which even now are mostly passable, if not exactly easy to access. There is a local highway near where I live called "Old Keene Mill Road." But it isn't the old road. The old road is visible from the new road in places where it goes around a hill that the new road cut right through. I wonder, though, if the name isn't referring not to the old road but to the old mill, no trace of which remains. I went looking for it one day and that's when I saw the old road.

Bob Knows

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2019, 04:10:13 PM »
Evidence of roadways persist even if the place has been farmed for hundreds of years, although it is difficult to detect on the ground.

Interesting discussion about old roads. Our history is more recent.  The west side of my land includes the remains of a "military road."  In about the middle of the 19th century, the US government established an outpost near Walla-Walla, WA.  That was some time after the Louis and Clark expedition, and before railroads. Young Abe Lincoln was a land surveyor on a survey team that marked the border between the US and Canada. His signature is still on original deeds in these parts.  The US Military built "military" wagon roads between Walla Walla and other parts of the Oregon Territory.

One of the military roads can still be seen where it crosses my property.  The old road winds its way north parallel to our current paved vehicle road. The old wagon road has much less cut and fill, and therefore more corners than the modern 2 lane paved road.  Closer to town there is an old concrete water trough for horses.  The road passes so many ponds and small lakes I sometimes wonder why they thought they needed a watering trough. Maybe carrying water was easier than unhitching a team to keep wagons from getting stuck in mud near the ponds.  Our old road is only about 150 years old, and in some parts was obliterated by the new road. Still it makes a nice path for my naked walks out on the west side of my land when I don't mind being seen by passing cars on the new road.

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BlueTrain

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2019, 06:49:46 PM »
One of the best places I've ever hiked nude was on an old road in southern West Virginia. It may have been one of the earliest roads in that part of the state, although it still wouldn't date to much before the revolution, no earlier than about 1750. It runs along the western side of the New River from the present day US 460 where that road crosses the river to where it disappears beneath the waters of Bluestone Lake, the dammed up waters of the New River above Hinton. I've never been all the way to the end. At one time, the road could be driven on all the way, provided your vehicle was up to it. But sometime probably in the 1970s or later, much of it was designated as a wildlife management area, meaning it was a hunting and fishing preserve. Curiously, though, part of it was graded and then gated. So you couldn't drive on it anymore, although you could go through with a motorbike or on horseback. By the year 2000, some of it had grown up in small trees and you couldn't drive on it at all. But most of the old road within that gated section was still wide open, if inaccessible, and was a really good place for walking. It was open, mostly level and there was a good view of the river most of the way. The last time I was there was a year ago when the river was in flood (which I reported on here somewhere) and I don't know what condition it's in now. Some of my not very distant ancestors lived along that road when Indians were still giving trouble, if indeed the road was anything more than a track.

When I mentioned about something being difficult to detect on the ground, I was referring to how it is sometimes possible to see traces from the air of old roads and other things that have disturbed the subsoil at some time. But one needs to have some background knowledge of the area to pick out such details. But most modern secondary roads have undergone a process of straightening over the years as roadbuilding became easier and cars more numerous. But that sure hasn't happened everywhere. In the coal fields of southern West Virginia, the roads are as crooked as ever and lots of little coal camps have disappeared without a trace, so much so that you'd never know there had been a village there, if you didn't know what to look for.

jbeegoode

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2019, 07:07:02 PM »
The old roads often are identifiable by the way they adjust to the terrain. Tucson is layed out on a sectional grid, nice and tidy, but the "Old Spainish Trail" "River Road" and the "Silverbell" road meander.

There is a natural passage through my property, that was used bu natuive Americans, simply because it was safe and easy, like dry washes. This eventually changed into a jeep trail for a rancher and others. It is a part of a subdivision. It would have bisected my home.

I like to get off of the Interstate out in the Midwest and wander through the twisty roads in te countryside. It used to be very fun in my BMW's.

Some of the trails that we hike have history. Cochise used trails that had been natural conveyances for millennia. There are old mines and rancher ruins here and there.

I get a sense of the past, I step into it, when on an old trail.
Jbee
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Peter S

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2019, 11:12:07 AM »
Our old footpaths (despite slightlyflippant answer above) range from a faint track across a meadow - little more than a line of flattened grass - to a fully-Tarmacadammed roadway which has been built to follow the old walkway. And some of them, if they’ve fallen into disuse or the farmer is trying to dissuade their use, are just a mass of impassable brambles.
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BlueTrain

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2019, 05:31:38 PM »
Sometimes when I'm in my hometown or on the way there, I take side roads or the long way round, on roads that are sometimes marked as scenic byways. They are interesting but more than a little sad. Places that have been bypassed have dried up and even in my hometown, which still bustles some, I no longer have any relatives to visit. It's a little like visiting a cemetery and the cemetery is in fact one of the first places I visit when I'm there. But the roads are usually always in good shape.

Trails for walking, however, are another matter. Even popular trails like the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States requires a lot of maintenance, usually performed by volunteers from the various clubs that essentially manage the trail. I don't know who keeps up the trails in George Washington National Forest, which parallels Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, probably the same people. Even the local trails where I go every day or two requires some maintenance because of fallen trees and branches. I take care of that, as far as I'm able. The long trails like the Appalachian Trail would simply disappear if there were dedicated individuals who keep the trails open. There is a complaint, however, that when the trail is relocated, which happens, it's always harder. If trails are under the trees, which is the case in many places, they don't become so overgrown, even though the problem of fallen trees and branches remains.

I suppose that on trails in the Southwest, none of those problems exist.

Peter S

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2019, 05:17:13 PM »
The footpaths in the UK are legally in the care of the county councils, but they are very low priority on council budgets, whether for staffing or maintenance, so in real life it falls to local volunteers or groups like the Ramblers Association to monitor and maintain them. If a farmer seriously blocks a footpath, eg with barbed wire, locked gates and “PRIVATE” notices, the council might be stirred to write an enforcement letter, but action and bureaucracy are words that are all too rarely found in the same sentence.

As the footpaths simply exist, they generally need little maintenance apart from signage and being passable. Trails I’ve experienced in the US (all in California so probably not nationwide typical) seem to be graded and travelled pathways, almost like roads without cars, and have been specifically created, whereas ours have just “happened” through historic usage.
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BlueTrain

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #23 on: July 21, 2019, 09:20:05 PM »
The oldest footpaths have probably evolved into highways by now and many highways (in the US) began as military highways. Many old roads have been bypassed by newer and straighter and wider highways. But I wonder about some new roads. You've probably all seen illustrations of how the old Roman roads were built, that look like they were two or three feet thick. These days, it seems like about six inches is good enough, at least until it needs repairing again.

Dedicated hiking trails around the country have various origins. The Appalachian Trail, which I am most familiar with, was apparently created from scratch sometime in the 1930s but it has changed a lot over the years. Originally, the route included some stretches on local roads.

When we visited the U.K. a few years ago, there was a functional canal that went by the little town Cropredy. We knew there were canals in England but for some reason they were not in our consciousness when we went. Anyway, there are a few canals here, too. Locally, there is the old C&O canal that goes west from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland. Although only a few portions of the canal can still float a boat now, the canal was in use into the 1920s. However, the towpath is still intact practically all the way, I think, and it makes a really great place for a long hike, although I've never seen mention of anyone hiking the entire length, at least not all at once. It's almost 185 miles long. That would be a respectable long-distance hike but it's level the whole way and offers good views of the Potomac River, too. The possibilities for hiking nude are pretty limited, though, as is the parking anywhere near Washington. It mostly has a gravel surface and it is now a national park.

jbeegoode

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2019, 01:09:03 AM »
We do have portions of our good ‘ol “Route 66.”

Many of the hiking trails in USA are old logging roads, or mining roads. The Forest Service is blocking off more and more of them. It keeps out quads and destruction. One blocked off, with logs, or rocks, or bulldozer berms is a good find. They get less use, so easy naked and more wildlife.

Many haven’t been used for commercial uses for 100 years or more. Out west, they often date back to the 1800’s. They are overgrown paths, washed out often.

There are “FR Roads” for driving, but maintained for Forest Service use such as firefighting. These are just usually poorly maintained roads, until they are needed, but good hiking trails. You need high clearance or 4x4. They can get me miles back into pristine naked freedom and hiking.

The Federal and State government’s conservative leadership has cut budgets and sold off our parks system to private companies, often corruption. There is little and surely inadequate money to maintain trails. Arizona gets maintenance on one trail each year, I was told by an official. It is just a token, not a practical budget. So, unlike the days when we had a nice system of trails, we now are more like a third world country, except where international tourists congregate at famous places to make money. There are private organizations, where citizens will maintain a trail like the "Arizona Trail." The government isn't about maintaining free movement and facilities for we the people, taxpayers. It's about making more money for wealthy people and cronies. The melding of government and corporate structure a la fascism.

At least out here in Arizona we can wander all over, even getting into private land and nobody gives a sh if you are just passing through and most of the land is government land. There are a few obstinate ranchers that have no regard for right of way that will lock up a gate on a route that crosses their land and effectively keeps we people off of the entire mountain that the route leads to. Sometimes, there's trouble.
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eyesup

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2019, 10:24:08 PM »
The oldest roads I’ve been on out here are the Oregon Trail and the old Pony Express route. Not that long ago.

I walked about a mile of the Cumberland Trail. It was an old buffalo trace the local Indian tribes also used.

I also walked part of the Natchez Trace south of Nashville. It is an ancient trail the Indians used up through the midwest, east of the Mississippi. Some Indian settlements along the route have been dated back 2,000 yrs. That one was special. It is so old it doesn’t look like a trail, in places it’s below grade about 5-6 ft. and deeper in others.

Duane

BlueTrain

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2019, 10:55:22 PM »
I believe there were people who appeared in old Western movies who had gone went in wagon trains before the Civil War. Charles Chaplin's film "The Gold Rush," which was filmed 24 years after the Yukon gold rush, had a couple of actors who were born before the Civil War. And a man who was president of the United States before the Civil War, John Tyler, had a grandson still living until recently (or maybe still). Long generations. My wife's great-great grandfather, if I have the generations right, was the last private owner of Mt. Vernon in Virginia. He was the one who sold it to the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association. Then he went off and got killed right away in the Civil War.

jbeegoode

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Re: Eureka!
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2019, 11:00:41 PM »
We have old Spanish Trails here in Baja Arizona. They eventually lead to missions. BAck then most roads ran along water routes. They would change with the flow. They follow the terrain.
Jbee
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