Saturday, November 10, 2007

Blue Hill Observatory

As a child I was always fond of the extremes of the weather. We had a small front porch on our house on Walpole Street and it was surrounded by large glass windows on all three sides. During particularly spectacular lightning storms I would sit out in the porch and watch the storms pass. Counting the time between "booms" and lightning strikes to gauge the distance of the approaching storm. I suppose that is how I was bitten by the weather bug.

So, it should come as no surprise that our house is filled with thermometers, hygrometers and even a recording barograph, all measuring the highs and lows and tracking the weather. From my youth I have fond memories of the place featured this week - the Blue Hill Observatory. We used to hike to the summit of Big Blue and would visit the stone castle. Imposing and weathered, it is quite simply a "cool" place. Being so drawn, I have collected the postcards and the articles that have featured this National Historic Landmark.

This view is the classic postcard of the observatory, dozens of different cards through the years have been made from this vantage point. Built in 1885 by Albert Lawrence Rotch - an MIT graduate, the observatory boasts the longest continual weather record in the United States. This is not the easiest place to get to but the effort will be well worth your time, Park at the Trailside Museum in Milton and take the hiking trail to the summit - which is about on mile of gradually steeper hiking. There are trail maps available. You can hike up on a beautiful day and visit the museum and even get a tour of the observatory on the upper floors. Be really nice and the staff may allow you to climb the stairs to the roof and gaze out as far as Boston Harbor or Mount Monadnock. The site sits between Canton and Milton and the local connections to the observatory are numerous.

This past week, while doing some aerial videography over Boston, the helicopter pilot asked if there was anything else I wanted to see before heading back to Norwood. The Blue Hill Observatory was my final hovering place. We spent about three minutes circling the building and here are a few of the images. You can see more here. In the background you can see Ponkapoag Pond and all the fall colors are in their glory. It is always a thrill to see this building, and the science and history are so entwined that it is one of the best places for young people to learn about preservation and meteorology.

An amazing place with a great story that should be on your "places to visit" list.

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