It was a Sunday afternoon in October, 2009. The sky was vibrant, the wind gentle after a chilly morning, and the sound of lapping waves was soft in my ears. Autumn showed in the emerging rainbow of trees surrounding Walden Pond.
The pond could hardly be considered a pond by its size, a hearty 61 square acres. However, as I stepped out onto its sandy shore all I could think about was Henry David Thoreau paddling his canoe across its great expanse – that and the trench drain I’d spotted on the way into the reservation.
I could hardly believe that I’d seen it on my journey, but then again I always seem to spot trench drain wherever I go. It lay across the paved service road that acts as an entrance point to the most famous landmark in American philosophy.
The trench drain was pretty wide and for good reason. Though you can’t see it well (thanks to my stellar photography skills), the drain cuts across a stretching hill. On the left side of the picture is the drive, which provides an excellent route for vehicle access as well as a clear path for the flowing water coming directly off the road above; to the right in the picture, water also flows down the small hill and runs across the path.
The Walden Pond State Reservation tries to eliminate erosion and preserve the original nature of the park by a number of methods: this trench drain is just one of them.
Take a closer look:
An interesting part of this grate is that it has transversely slotted grates. This is a key point in ADA Compliant grates, which require slots to be safe for wheelchair access. The slots are placed perpendicular to the direction of travel so that wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers are able to travel safely.
Though I could find no markers on the drain, I can state with certainty this it is a grate typically sold through a foundry. How can I presume that? For one thing, foundries generally provide only frame-and-grate systems which require concrete construction and in-situ forming of a trench. That is exactly the case shown above. And, on another note, the iron grates were “raw” – or without a surface finish. While trench drain manufacturers might epoxy or powder coat the grates, many foundries leave them in an uncoated or raw state.
The day was full of spectacular sights! A few pictures of the landscape…
Now, the real purpose of my visit to Walden Pond was because of the philosophical history of the site. Thoreau’s book, “Walden,” couldn’t help but make nature seem beautiful on paper; I wanted to compare the real site to his words and see whether they measured up. Also, I admired his experiment into naturalism and wished to see his muse so that I could understand why he had devoted his time in such a way.
Perhaps the answer I went looking for could best be summed up with the following picture, which I took at the old site of his cabin:
I had a wonderful time at Walden Pond last year. It was breathtakingly beautiful! Though I meandered about the trails, I never did accomplish the mile-plus circuit around the pond. Even without walking the full trail, I was happy to simply be there… and to find trench drain at work, preserving the famous landscape.