I live on Robbins Road in Rindge, New Hampshire. If you live on Robbins Road you have to specify which town and what state you live in, because the road also lies in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Back in the 1970’s when I built my house my portion of the road was dirt – not gravel, just dirt. Mud season back then was a true adventure. Usually the first vehicle to try to make it through sank up to the frame on what is locally referred to as “Wolterbeek’s hill,” so-named due to its proximity to the Wolterbeek farm, not because anyone’s to blame..
There’s no name that I know of for the hill going in the opposite direction, but the low spot between the hills is known as “death valley,” something of an exaggeration, unless you fail to make one of the hills during a snowstorm. For many years the town’s highway department had what they called a backwards sander – a truck with the sander mounted backwards to throw the mixture in front of the rear wheels. It was specially designed to deal with Wolterbeek’s hill.
When it was dirt, that portion of the road wasn’t plowed in the winter, so the school bus had to come around through Massachusetts to get the kids. Some of them had previously been sent to the Winchendon school system, but my oldest son and a few other new kids convinced the Jaffrey-Rindge School system to bus the bunch and save some tuition bucks.
That might be why the town upgraded the road to gravel soon after I moved into my log house. Not too many years later the town paved the road, which was really nice. The only problem was the Winchendon end of the road never got upgraded. For many years some locals referred to it as the “Ho Chi Minh trail.”
How rough was it? For a while I worked in Winchendon and had to use that end of the road year round. In the winter there was a big puddle at one spot. As the vehicles broke the ice and splashed and steamed through the water, the wake would build up the icy edges, making the puddle deeper and deeper day by day. Many a motorist said their prayers before attempting this particular hazard.
It was somewhat of a relief when Winchendon finally invested in some repair work. For
a while that section of the road was pretty good. Nowadays it has so many patches the patches have patches. If you’re ever in pursuit of potholes and frost heaves this is the road to travel in March.
The bad thing about that Winchendon upgrade was that it happened about the time Market Basket opened and Rindge became a shopping destination. Those Massachusetts drivers know a good shortcut when they find one. All of a sudden we had a lot of traffic on the road and much of it was a bit fast.
So the town highway department put up a couple “Slow Children” signs either side of my residence where I now had another son and the neighbors at the time had a bunch. Thing about those signs is – they never go away.
It’s been quite a while and all those slow children have now grown up to become half-fast adults, but the signs remain. That’s okay with me, though. I’ll take anything that’ll slow the traffic down. That’s why I’m tipping my hat in thanks to the Conservation Commission for putting up those “Turtle Crossing” signs either side of the beaver pond down in death valley.
Nothing much slower than a turtle.
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