Thursday, May 8, 2008

Memories Underfoot

Cobblestones are magic. We see them and suddenly our imaginations flash images of gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages, chivalrous men taking the outside path on the sidewalk to spare the fairer sex the distress of a wayward splash from the street, or dust kicked up on a hot and dry summer day. Cobblestones mean hooves clopping and wheel rhythms. The bright music of progress 'tween sunup and sundown, but sounds that might spread a shiver of dread or worry a'waft through the wee hours of a 19th century evening. The undertaker or the ice man? Relief when the clop-clopping and wheel-creak recedes into the night.

Worn smooth in some spots, tracks sunk in time, each cobblestone was once held in the hand of a man, placed for the centuries - nigh well better equipped to outlast both creature and days.

Here are some photographs of the cobblestones on the corner of Westfield's Union and Railroad Avenues, under the CSX railroad viaduct. As cobblestones go, these are my favorites. This is the way my father would go when we drove to my grandparents' home on Dartmouth Street from the South-side of town. Sunday visits, Christmas, Thanksgiving...The train of memories like stones in the pathway of years. Is there a spot by history untouched?

Looking north up Union Avenue from Railroad Avenue. In place for well over 100 years, these cobblestones are smack-dab in the middle of major changes to the area's traffic flow, with the ongoing construction of a new bridge spanning the Westfield River. (December 1, 2007)

Speaking of rivers...The underpass regularly floods during heavy rains. A better drainage system is incorporated into the bridge plans, along with the raising of the railroad viaduct another foot or so to facilitate truck traffic. Right now, this is the only lane under the bridge that is 13'6" tall, just enough to accommodate the average tractor-trailer. (March 23, 2008)

Each stone a story... (October 6, 2007)

Each sunrise, a sunset... (October 30, 2007)

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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Anonymous said...

At one time many years ago, State St. in Springfield was cobble stones also. No idea if they were removed or paved over as the years went by and road repairs were made.

sojourner said...

Dwight Street was once paved in wooden bricks as were many alleyways. After a rainfall, odd bricks would pop up and street crews were assigned the job of pounding them back down. The last of the wooden bricks were ripped out about 30 years ago

Kim said...

:o) I had to smile when I saw the picture of the cobble stones…. I can remember as a child marching in the Memorial Day Parade (in my girl scout uniform of course) being amazed when we walked over or past a section of pavement that had come up to revile below the beautiful cobble stone . History is everywhere… especially in Western MA!