Sunday, July 29, 2007

Giant "footprint" inspires speculation

Tracy over at the Yahoo Group mailing list "Haunted Maine" dropped me a line to point out this great story over at the Bangor Daily News:
Newly exposed ledge 'footprint' inspires legends
By Rich Hewitt
Saturday, July 21, 2007

PROSPECT - When crews blasting ledge for the Penobscot Narrows Bridge crafted a new path for Route 1, they never suspected they would create a new attraction beside the bridge.

Their blasting unearthed a granite seam in the ledge that looks remarkably like a human footprint, toes and all.

The digit-al image hovers high above the road near the top of the ledge, attracting the attention of passers-by and generating some theories as to how it got there.

Alvion and Cindy Kimball of Orland have suggested that the footprint is a remnant from an old American Indian legend surrounding the spirit Glooscap and how he tamed the winds around the Penobscot Bay area.

It’s a good tale, having little to do with petrified feet, but the Kimballs have made a connection.

Glooscap enjoyed hunting from his stone canoe in the region, but there came a time when the wind blew so hard, he and the people could not go out to sea. The winds came from Wuchosen, the Great Wind Bird who lived atop a large rock at the end of the sky. Wuchosen created the wind by moving his wings.

Glooscap traveled to the end of the sky, climbed the rock and asked Wuchosen to have pity on the people and be easier with his wings. When Wuchosen refused, saying he would continue to move his wings as he chose, Glooscap became angry and seized the great bird, bound his wings and threw him into a ravine where he could not move.

The winds quieted and the people were happy, but soon the dead calm resulted in stagnant waters that were so thick that even Glooscap could not paddle. He went back to Wuchosen, carried him back to the rock and untied one of his wings. Since then, the winds have been quieter on Penobscot Bay.

The footprint, according Cindy Kimball, is the proof in the pudding that the legend is real.

"When I first saw it, I said to Alvion, ‘It’s a perfect footprint,’" she said. "We thought it was left by the god climbing up the mountain to reach Wuchosen."

Kimball, who is executive director of the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, said visitors to the area have noticed the foot and asked about it. Most don’t see it while driving because they are looking at the bridge across the Penobscot River, she said. But they do notice it when they visit the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.

"Everybody says it looks like a footprint," she said.

The big foot — as opposed to Bigfoot — is not the only outstanding part of the human anatomy represented in the area.

The famous, or infamous, leg on Jonathan Buck’s monument in a nearby cemetery on Route 1 in Bucksport has attracted visitors for years. There has been some suggestion that the footprint is linked to Buck, a Revolutionary War colonel, and the supposed curse cast on him by a condemned witch that caused the imprint of a leg to appear on the granite monument over his grave.

Coincidentally — or is it? — Buck’s grave is scheduled to be rededicated next week in the Buck Cemetery on Main Street in Bucksport. The rededication is to take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 27.

That Buck lived during Revolutionary times, long after the witch trials took place in Massachusetts, and that he never condemned a witch, has not diminished the tale over the years, nor has it stopped the visitors despite the disclaimer posted by historians.

So, perhaps the foot is indeed that of a forlorn witch in search of its leg and will wander from its spot on the ledge across the new bridge to Bucksport to join the offending appendage for eternity.

Tom Doe, the state Department of Transportation project manager for the bridge project, however, offers a scientific explanation. The strip of granite in the ledge, he said, is an inclusion, a remnant of volcanic activity in the area many millennia ago.

Where the granite seam is today was once a crack in the surrounding rock. When molten material rose up from deep inside the earth, it filled the crack and hardened into granite, creating the inclusion, which remained hidden until the bridge blasting exposed it.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
Photo from the Lewiston Sun Journal website, credited to Bangor Daily News, taken by Gabor Degre.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What does the foot found in Searsport of the young man who fell, jumped or was pushed off the new Verona Bridge have to do with these other two foot prints?
That's what I'm wondering.
No,I'm not Stephen King.I was born in Bangor.