As we study Geography I have encouraged students to play Geoguesser, an online game in which players are presented with images of world locations and must place a pin on a map to guess where the picture was taken. The closer the guess, the more points awarded. What are guesses based on? Locations have both physical and human characteristics. Perhaps the location is desert, forest, or grassland. These physical characteristics might help us guess. What often tells us more are human characteristics. What side of the road are cars driving on? What language is on the signs? In the end the closer the guess, the more points earned.
I am sponsoring a friendly GeoGuesser competition among students. To participate add comments to this blog post with your score and then send the screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will maintain a leader-board and update it weekly. We will see how high the scores go!
The year is off to a great start! Thank you to those who responded to my last blog post about a summer adventure. If you read on, you will see that all of you guessed correctly. I encountered Hazen’s Notch, one of the oldest roads in Vermont, and even a bowling ball pyramid! And there was more...
As I wrote previously, I had the opportunity to work with a great group of teachers in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom back in July. By far the most interesting route to and from Lyndonville was Vermont Route 58. In Vermont east-west routes are a bit scarce and Google Maps revealed that this route across Northern Vermont was both the most direct and least miles of the three choices. So I set out on my adventure, anticipating less than a two hour ride and a shortcut when compared with the more highly traveled Route 15.
I would not normally expect a state highway to turn into a narrow winding dirt and gravel road, but that is exactly what happened shortly after the route began in the town of Montgomery. Before I knew it, I had left civilization. There were no power lines, no cell service, no houses, just a road headed up! Notice I didn't say no cars or trucks, thats because route 58, otherwise known as Hazen’s Notch Road is a highly traveled state highway. Frequently I met cars and even good sized trucks coming in the opposite direction. In the State of Vermont, if there is no posted speed limit, 50 mph serves as the “state speed limit” I don't remember seeing any speed limit signs. There were a few stretches of road where I felt safe going 40 mph, but most of the time, I kept the speed well below that mark. I actually had a few close calls including meeting a box truck traveling at a high rate of speed sliding on gravel as the driver tried to maintain control on a steep downhill. The scenery was rural and beautiful, but I spent most of my time looking out for crazy drivers. I reached the top of the notch and began the descent into the town of Lowell. It was not long before pavement and civilization returned, but now I was in a different region of Vermont, I was on the other side of the Green Mountains.
As the road continued the landscape changed to rolling hills, farms, and even some roadside curiosities such as a pyramid made of bowling balls on a front lawn. The rural road delivered on its promise and before long I was on Interstate 91 cruising toward the Lyndon exit. In subsequent days I tried the other routes and decided route 58 was by far my favorite. Curiosity got the best of me, and I did quite a bit of research on the Hazen’s Notch Road and it’s history. One of the oldest roads in Vermont, construction was ordered by George Washington himself during the American Revolution. If you can imagine the road was actually planned as a route to invade Canada! Construction ended abruptly at Hazens Notch, when many realized the road would likely be used by British and Canadian invaders instead. Most of the original military road has been bypassed and paved over at this point, but a few original sections remain. Today archaeologists sometimes find lost sections of road on farms or in the wilderness. Often it can be identified by corduroy or logs pressed into the earth for stability and traction. I don't believe I drove over any corduroy, but I did drive on an original section of the Bayley-Hazen Military Road with an understanding of its amazing history.
I really did enjoy learning about and experiencing the history of the road. Later that week, as I traveled the route, I imagined how much work went into creating it and how history might be different if it had been completed as originally planned. I learned a little more as well and will be completing a geographic inquiry along with you later this month. Yes, Vermont route 58 was a shortcut, it saved a few miles and a few minutes, but it added a whole lot of adventure!
8th Grade Social Studies
Student and Teacher posts about what is happening in class and in the world