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Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Lonely Marker

The battle, off the coast of Virginia of the Union ironclad U.S.S. Monitor vs. the Confederate ironclad Merrimack (not the Merrimac, which was another ship put into service around 1864) was drummed (so to speak) into me in elementary school in New York City, back in the early 1960's.

The wood from which the keel of the Monitor was cut came from this area, now occupied partially by a site called Finch Hollow.

The site of the sawmill where the keel of the U.S.S.Monitor was milled is in walking distance of my home near Johnson City, in upstate New York.  The site is, in the present day, occupied by an enclosed shopping mall, the Oakdale Mall.


Like many malls, the Oakdale Mall has seen better days. It may default on a loan next year, in fact.  Its future is in doubt.

Apparently, back around 1998, there was a historical marker in the Oakdale Mall commemorating the history of the Monitor.

Re Finch Hollow, it still exists.  If you drive north on Oakdale Road (which runs north and south, just to the west of the mall)  from the mall, you will find a nature center on the site. I haven't been there in many years, but I remember going there with my then young son.  I don't remember any commemoration of its role in the Civil War on the site, however.

The Monitor (what is left of it) was discovered in 1973 and parts have been brought to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA.  The keel, I am sure, is long gone.  Restorers are in a race against time to preserve the remaining metal parts and guns.  I hope to visit the museum although I've been hoping to do that since before the 150th anniversary of the battle on March 9, 2012.

Well, in the deserted part of the Oakdale Mall that I blogged about yesterday, there is something that few people see anymore, because almost all the stores in that section are closed.

Lonely, the Monitor marker is ignored by mall walkers who walk right by it.

If the Oakdale Mall drifts into history, what will happen to that marker?

I never realized my elementary school Civil War studies would lead to something right in my very (so to speak) front yard.

Have you ever explored the history of your area?

9 comments:

  1. Had no idea that the ship needed wood from your area. Interesting. The effect of the Erie Canal, I'm sure.

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    1. I haven't studied the history of the building of the U.S.S. Monitor well enough to know, but that's quite possible.

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  2. Civil War history is fascinating. And when a piece of it is in your front yard...

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  3. Indeed, I am always watching for local history.

    Shopping malls are struggling here too.

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    1. I think malls are struggling in many places. I know of at least one (in Pennsylvania, off I-81) that has been torn down. We used to stop at a McDonalds there sometimes.

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  4. Whatever happens to the real estate, that marker should remain. Who knows? The next iteration of the mall might find a lot more traffic to see it.

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    1. I have thoughts about what should happen to the land, if the mall closes. Not sure it would make a good post, but maybe I should think about it.

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  5. Well, that is one of the oddest bits of maritime history I've ever read. I'm going to share it, some of my boatblogger friends will enjoy!

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    1. Thank you. I do need to visit that museum. By the way, I've blogged several times about the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, which is undergoing preservation work in a facility in North Charleston, South Carolina. I should rerun those posts!

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