Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bunker in Centennial Woods

Posted by Andrew Mamrak. Andrew is a Junior Environmental Studies student with a focus in ecology and conservation in the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources at UVM

Ever since the very first time I set foot in Centennial Woods, I have been drawn to the large concrete structure beyond the stream, not far from the main entrance off of Carrigan Drive. This rundown pseudo-bunker is clearly not a natural component of UVM owned Centennial Woods Natural Area. It has, however, become a graffiti and spray paint canvas for college students and local kids trying to leave their own mark or message on.

Knowing only a little about the past uses of Centennial Woods from my Natural History of Centennial Woods class, I still did not feel confident assuming that this structure was somehow a part of a past farming or possibly even the old skiing area located a short distance to the southeast. This large and clearly historical piece of human presence in the area sparked my curiosity and I decided to find out just what it was and what purpose it served.

After beginning some online research of my own to no avail, I decided to head to the University of Vermont Libraries special collections to see if I could find some information on past land use and history of Centennial Woods. After some assistance from the librarian Sylvia Bugbee and later Prudence Doherty I was able to look at some historical maps, blueprints and even some really interesting deeds from when the area changed hands over the years. While doing my investigating I found that there was a series of monuments spread throughout the area. Most of these monuments denoted ranges of specific parcels of land and/or marked elevation as part of an old coordinate system (see Sarah's posting on property line markers). Although I could not find any sort of description of a bunker or larger concrete fixture, I did learn that the historical Vermont, New York and New Hampshire militia organization founded in the 1760s, also known as the Green Mountain Boys, had connections to the land that is now Centennial Woods. Due to the architecture of this structure I believe that this was built for some type of training purpose for the Green Mountain Boys before Centennial Woods was a protected natural area owned by the University of Vermont. Also, knowing the fact that concrete was not made widespread in American until around 1850-1880, I would make the assumption that this structure was built post-Civil War era. The Green Mountain Boys were originally led by Ethan Allen and is now the unofficial name for the Vermont National Guard. 

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