Contrasting Coexisting Communities

Hello from the wonderful world of Peddocks Island, brought to you by Microsoft Word 2013! This week I’ve gone full force back into the Cultural Landscape Inventory (CLI) for Peddocks Island, in the hopes it will be largely complete and ready for Jeff Killion, Olmsted Center CLI coordinator extraordinaire, to review. After I gain Jeff’s highly sought after approval, the report will go to folks from the park for their review and approval. “The park” consists of folks from the Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park as well as those from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) who are the managers of the island.

Up until this week, the CLI was pretty much fleshed out save for some gaps in images, tables, and narrative text for the Landscape Characteristics and Features. I’m proud to say that I have just finished writing the extensive narrative for the Landscape Characteristics and Features, which includes:

  1. Natural systems and features
  2. Land use
  3. Topography
  4. Spatial organization
  5. Vegetation
  6. Circulation
  7. Buildings and structures
  8. Cluster arrangement
  9. Views and vistas
  10. Small-scale features
  11. Archeological sites
  12. Constructed water features

Within each characteristic, the inventory requires the identification and description of the features fitting into each category both historically and presently. With Peddocks it’s quite tricky to get organized and present findings/observations in a manner that makes sense to those who may not be familiar with the landscape. This is due to the kind of split personality of the island, which is home to an Endicott Era coastal defense system, Fort Andrews, as well as a historically significant cottage community. The juxtaposition of landscape types, histories, and periods of significance made it necessary for me to evaluate some parts of the CLI separately. While it made for a lot of writing and a little repetition, the diversity in land uses and layers of cultural landscapes contained on the 210-acre island is one of my favorite aspects of the Peddocks Island landscape, and one I find to be the most intriguing.

Another Peddocks related tidbit I may have done a little too much reading into was how fire control systems for coast artillery fire control operated. I figured since I had to write about it, I should understand it, right? Peddocks Island has a few observation/base end stations that are still visible in the landscape. From these tall structures, which were located at the highest points on the island, a target would be observed and identified, and the position would be calculated in relationship to the position of the mortar battery. The location information was then communicated to personnel in battery plotting rooms, where the target’s location was marked on a map. This was done several times in order to keep track of the speed and direction of the observed target and once several positions had been plotted and an educated position could be estimated, the plotting operators guessed the target’s next position based on the dead time (time difference between position estimation and actual firing) and the time of flight (air time of the projectile). However, the data could not be sent directly to the gun operators without more calculations. The last thing to take into account was corrections for “non-standard conditions” such as extreme temperatures which would affect explosiveness, and other weather conditions such as rain or wind. After the mortar was fired, battery observers who tracked the projectile’s fall would report back to personnel in the plotting rooms for correction. A complicated diagram is below. And to think, I’m currently daunted by the GRE math section!


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