Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Elverson / Hopewell Iron Plantation


 Hopewell Iron Furnace
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Baumstown, Pennsylvania

Following our tour of Daniel Boone's Homestead we were off to visit nearby Hopewell Iron Furnace. I soon realized I needed to invest in a real GPS, as the one on my phone needs to be manually advanced and the phone turned in the direction you are going. Needless to say, the site was only fifteen minutes away but it took us about an hour to find it. I needed to turn around at least ten times in the middle of Nowhere, USA... Katelyn thought we would never find civilization again and I tried to ignore her as she searched the car for anything edible to sustain us, or flammable for a potential signal fire. However, we eventually found it with stomachs empty and bladders full.

Charcoal Fired Furnace Remains
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Hopewell Iron Furnace is a great example of one of the small iron furnaces that were prominent throughout Pennsylvania during the 18th and 19th centuries. The abundance of wood used to create charcoal to fire Hopewell's furnace, made Penn's Woods an ideal location for the iron foundry industry. The creation of larger, more efficient anthracite coal fired furnaces caused plantations like Hopewell to fade away into history. Hopewell was well known for the making of iron stove parts that were assembled and sold throughout the region. The land surrounding the property is a combination of French Creek State Park and state game lands which helps Hopewell maintain the colonial atmosphere and historical integrity.

Katelyn / Charcoal Wagon
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This was a bittersweet victory since I had bad memories of this place. As a youngster long ago, I got separated from my family here and got lost. It is amazing how those types of memories and feelings stay with you despite the passing of decades of time. Apparently, I briefly wandered away to check something out and when I turned around my family was gone. I was sure they were right around the corner but they seemed to have vanished into history? Somehow they didn't notice my absence... for some time, which is hard to imagine since even though I was little, I wasn't really that "little" even back then!

Hopewell Iron Furnace
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I wound up running back and forth between the dozen + buildings with no luck! I was beginning to panic and to make matters worse, a thunderstorm was coming and it began to rain. It was becoming a combination of "Home Alone" and "Night at the Museum" all at once! Just as I was about to really freak out, I suddenly ran into them... I can't remember how it all ended because I was so happy to be safely back with my family. I was so relieved to be going back to my modern world and would not have to remain in 1850's America working at the iron foundry for fifty cents a day for the rest of my life! I emotionally spilled out my stressful tale to Katelyn like a patient to a well paid therapist.

Iron Stove Part Sand Mold
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Amazingly Katelyn had a flat expression throughout the telling of my tale and didn't seem to show the slightest hint of empathy... When I finished my heart felt story, her only response was... "How much longer are we going to stay here?" Even when it eerily began to rain, I could tell the irony was completely lost on her when she asked if my magical phone had the ability to find a McDonalds nearby?

Water Wheel Power House
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Oh well, in the end, I faced my fears after all these years and at least Katelyn listened... It saved me some expensive therapy, and she works for fast food! We put the phone away and put trust in our gut since we were both hungry... It led us straight to a KFC in Shillington and Katelyn breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally safe back in civilization!

Iron Plantation Master's House
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Remember Kids... Always stay with your parents when visiting a historical landmark to avoid emotional trauma for the next thirty plus years.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birdsboro / Daniel Boone Homestead

 Daniel Boone Homestead
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Birdsboro, Pennsylvania 

The Expanded Homestead
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Ok, time for another journey, time to check out one of those brown and white historical site signs along the Pennsylvania Turnpike that I have passed many times but never took the time to visit. Well today was the day! My trusty sidekick Katelyn was game for another journey back in time to preserved history. Tyler on the other hand, has recently discovered the virtual world online and now seems to have no need to have physical contact with the outside real world. Oh well, I can't compete with online gaming but at least Katelyn was willing to humor the old man, so we pushed on to our next adventure. The Daniel Boone Homestead was on the agenda and Katelyn and I ventured out into the natural world in real time! Onward!

 Homestead Farm Road
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Daniel Boone's legacy has become a mixture of fact and legend ever since he became the face of the American frontier and pioneering spirit. The subject of countless books, movies, television shows, radio programming, and now the internet has distorted the line between Hollywood and history. One thing is for sure; Daniel Boone's personality did capture the restless American characteristic of the never ending quest to explore the unknown. Like many Americans of the period, he was constantly on the move, relocating time and time again, seeking to see what had previously never been seen. Within his lifetime he spent part of his life in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri just to name the places he settled down, at least for a short time period. He explored far beyond the known world, penetrating deep into the expansive western wilderness.

White Washed Picket Fence
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The Daniel Boone Homestead is a well preserved site with over 550 acres surrounding and shrouding the history from the modern world. I don't know about you, but the sight of a McDonalds, a super highway, or Walmart across the street just ruins it for me. The grounds are spread out, peaceful and quiet except for the sounds of nature. However, Daniel Boone never actually lived or worked in any of the present buildings. He spent the first 16 years of his life here but none of these solid structures existed when he wandered through the surrounding woods as a young man. Like many original colonial era home sites, the buildings were constantly improved and expanded within the original foundation. All that remains of the original log home where Daniel Boone was born is the foundation and root cellar beneath the main house.

Oley Valley Sawmill
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I was particularly interested to see the sawmill located close to what today is called Daniel Boone Lake down the lane from the Boone House. The Bertolet saw mill was built in the early 1800's but was not original to the site. It was relocated here in the early 1970's from nearby Oley Valley to preserve it and make it accessible to history seekers like myself! One of my ancestors, Elisha Martin owned and operated a similar sawmill during the 1850's outside Terre Hill, Pennsylvania which was reclaimed by Mother Nature many years ago. Like the Bertolet mill, it was powered by a waterwheel connected to a nearby water source. Clean, green, renewable energy! Amazing how we come back to the technology of our ancestors to find solutions in the modern world. These guys knew what they were doing! Stewards of Mother Earth!

 Katelyn / Daniel Boone Lake
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Hey kids, put on a happy face! Remember, it's always a fun time when you are learning about your heritage! It's really fun for the whole family! Anyway... there was lots to explore and behind the sawmill was Daniel Boone Lake, which Katelyn liked best, The modern dam was designed to have a gentle cascading waterfall flow over the top adding to the serenity of the scenery. We then went across the bridge to see the Wayside Lodge that was built for group meetings and sleepovers on the site. Although built in the 1940's, the design of the building fit in seamlessly within the colonial time period and was in itself, a nice photo op.

 Bridge to Boone Lodge
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Overall it was a great place to visit. I am always very conscious of the absence of modern sounds within well-preserved properties like the Daniel Boone Homestead. It takes you back to a simpler time when there was a lot more peace at quiet in the world. Something we could all use a little more of from time to time. Daniel Boone had an extraordinary life that impacted multiple peoples and settlements throughout colonial history. This is the place where it all began, a poor farm boy who went on to become a household name throughout North America and much of Europe. Again, the Power of Place...

 The Homestead comes to life often during the year 
with special calendar events and presentations. 

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Check it out at http://www.danielboonehomestead.org
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Terre Hill / In Search of David Lichty


In Search of David Lichty
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Terre Hill / Pennsylvania

My Uncle, Homer Martin, has always been the family historian and over the past few years we began doing some digging together through the family records.  We were able to determine one of our ancestors, David Lichty, who is my great-great-grandfather, was a veteran of the Civil War, serving with the 122nd Pennsylvania Vol. Co. C recruited out of Lancaster County in 1863.  He was from the small town of Terre Hill, Pennsylvania and at the age 18, volunteered for a nine month enlistment to help defend the state capital of Harrisburg as Lee's Confederate forces threatened to move north.  He reported to Camp Curtin for training, but soon the unit was sent south to Washington D.C. to help protect the nation's capital instead.  He soon saw action at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and mustered out with his company in May of 1863.  We are very fortunate to have the picture of him in his uniform shown above.

 122nd Muster Roll Sheet
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Two years ago, I was able to get some behind the scenes access to the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg and was able to seek out some artifacts associated with my great-great-grandfather and the PA 122nd regiment.  First, the museum commission was in the process of restoring many of their Civil War records and I was able to get them to pull the original muster sheets of the PA 122nd where I could see David Lichty's signature when he first enlisted.   It was a special moment to be able to look at his name in his own hand writing, where he agreed to sign up to join the Union Army.  I was not able to take a close up picture of the sheets due to museum policy but I did get a distant shot through the locked glass door shown above.

Civil War Flag Museum of PA
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I also was able to see the Civil War Flag Museum of Pennsylvania.   The state of Pennsylvania was the only state during the war that provided and owned all the flags for their regiments and companies.   After the war, they asked for them to be returned and stored them in the Capital Building in Harrisburg.  They were later moved to a new location, but not one you might imagine.  The museum is only open through appointment and is located in a neglected warehouse in an economically depressed part of town.  I thought we were in the wrong place but we had the right address!   Sure enough, we were met by a representative from the museum, and after climbing the aging, rust stained steps, we entered a modern climate controlled room, where over 400 flags are carefully preserved.  They are filed away on individual trays and you can ask to see specific flags of the army and cavalry from the Civil War and Spanish American War.  The flagstaffs are also preserved in racks...  The damage of war is often found within the silk and wood. Some are in better condition than others.   For more information visit... http://cpc.state.pa.us/cpcweb/flags_tours.jsp

 Terre Hill Town Cemetery Gate
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My real quest was now to find him and his grave marker somewhere in Lancaster County.  Through the research efforts of my Uncle Homer, I had a copy of the obituary record of David Lichty from the Ephrata Review's issue from April 15, 1910.   After the war, he returned to Lancaster County, living in the city and later returning to Terre Hill where he lived out the rest of his life.  The church and cemetery listed in the newspaper, where he was buried, no longer exists in name today.  The only thing to do was to visit every church and cemetery in the Terre Hill area and search stone by stone.  I was going to need some legs, so I grabbed my son Tyler and his friend Alex for a little adventure, searching through gardens of stone.

 My Great-Grandfather is Found
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We started out in each cemetery in the older sections, where the stones were dated within the time frame we we looking for and worked through the rows.   We had gone through two large cemeteries and I was beginning to think we were on a wild goose chase.  We had one more place to check, the cemetery behind Saint Paul's United Methodist Church.  The main gate looked like something out of an old western movie but seemed like it might have been a general cemetery for the entire area at one time. My energetic helpers raced up and down the rows searching for any names resembling David L. Within about fifteen minutes, Alex yelled out that he thought he might have found something and sure enough, David Lichty was now found and the mystery was solved.

Veteran of the Civil War
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He was buried next to his wife and sister, along with several other relatives from the Lichty side of the family.  A small American flag from Memorial Day was still in place by a US veteran marker at the base of his memorial.  As I touched the stone, it was like making a physical connection to my great-great-grandfather for the very first time.  Later, I asked for copies of his military records from the National Archives in Washington D.C., the city he once protected.  A few weeks later, I was surprised to find a huge package sticking out of my mailbox.   Over 100 pages of copied documents, that turned out to be a transcript from an inquest concerning David Lichty's request for a military pension.  After looking through some of the documents, I soon discovered that David Lichty served longer than nine months.  After mustering out with his unit, he soon reenlisted in the Pennsylvania Cavalry where he served actively until the end of the war.

First Pennsylvania Cavalry
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During the war with the Pennsylvania Cavalry, David Lichty contracted an intestinal disease from which, he would never fully recover.   The military court documents revealed through witnesses testimony that David had a difficult time with his health that limited his ability to work after the war. According to the testifying physician's reports, David's intestinal problems persisted and later led to severe migraine headaches, sometimes causing temporary blindness.  Normally, pensions were only awarded to veterans who had been wounded in battle and would later have trouble providing for themselves in the civilian world.  David's health problems were not the direct result of a specific battlefield incident and as a result, he was not awarded a pension upon discharge.  The trial transcripts are fascinating to examine but difficult to follow since the entire transcript was hand written by a military court clerk.   It takes practice and patience to decode the quick cursive script of the clerk.  The traveling court came to Terre Hill to hear the case of David Lichty and following a long examination of the evidence and his military records, they granted him a disability pension of fifteen dollars a month. He received the payment the rest of his life and was then requested again by his wife Mary and awarded until her death in 1918.

 Private Jeffrey D. Martin
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I continue to file through the paperwork to follow the military and post-war civilian life of David Lichty hoping to complete the gaps in his life story.   In the process, I have become a Civil War Reenactor with the PA 30th Co. E out of Lancaster to learn more about the time period and his life.   Through re-enactments and living history events, I have come to appreciate what he and other brave young men went through during the conflict of the Civil War.   As a teacher and student of history, I am always amazed by the chance in history.   It is humbling to ponder the fact... If my great-grandfather had died during the war, like so many in his unit did, from wounds and disease, I would not be here today.  Over 600,000 other men who served, never returned home.

 Saint Paul's United Methodist
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Little Chapel / Sept 11th - Part # 3

In the Wake of Tragedy
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Visiting the Little Chapel Site

 The Little Chapel
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Here is the story of a truly great man, a man who saw a need and began a solo mission to meet that need. Reverend Alphonse T. Mascherino, was a Catholic priest with over twenty years experience, who noticed that there was no place for people to properly morn the loss felt at Shanksville from the September 11th tragedy. Until things were worked out at the crash site, Reverend Mascherino thought he should find or create a proper space where people could gather to mourn their loss. So he started looking for a space that he could buy and fix up into a chapel where visitors could pay their respects to those lost in the crash. (Above - is the completed chapel)

 Hall of Heroes Memorial
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Reverend Mascherino found an old building that had once served as a small chapel many years ago but since then had been used as a grain shed for local farmers. The property was in poor repair and looked like it might fall down. Reverend Mascherino thought this was probably his best bet and used his life saving to purchase it. He often likes to say it is the chapel Barbie built because he sold off his collection of rare toys including several vintage Barbie dolls to buy the property! (Above - the completed Chapel Hall of Heroes where each victim is pictured with a short biography)

 Reverend Mascherino's Service
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Reverend Mascherino began the mammoth task of slowly fixing up the chapel himself whenever time and funds permitted. Soon others heard what Reverend Mascherino had taken on by himself, were inspired by his project, and decided to join him. Progress began to take place as more and more volunteers arrived to lend a helping hand. Soon local businesses began to get word of the project and started donating building supplies. The little chapel was slowly coming back to life.

 Everyone Pitches In to Help
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Then one day Reverend Mascherino was contacted by a large company in the area... 84 Lumber called and offered everything needed to complete the project, including all necessary materials and professional labor. The goal was to have the project completed by the first anniversary of the tragedy and with abundant help, the deadline was a possibility. With a week to go before the targeted deadline, there was still a great deal of work to do but marathon work sessions around the clock, brought the project to completion just in time. On September 11, 2002 the new Flight UA93 Memorial Chapel opened its door to visitors.

 UA93 Memorial Garden
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However, the story is not over, United Airlines also felt obligated to remember the fallen members of the flight crew and passengers. They considered building a small memorial of their own but didn't know where to put it. Not wanting to intrude on the actual crash site and not interested in getting tangled up in an already emotionally charged debate over that site, they approached Reverend Mascherino to see if they could somehow include a memorial of their own within the chapel grounds.

 Corner Garden Bench
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The result was a beautiful memorial garden created behind the little chapel that became a quiet tribute to the crew and passengers lost on United Airlines flight 93. The memorial is centered around a large marble obelisk that names and pictures the members of the lost crew. On the corners surrounding the center monument are four benches that list the names of the lost passengers. The pathways are surrounded by flowers and plants with individual memorials integrated within the garden plantings. Family members of the lost United Airlines crew often visit and leave behind mementos in memory of their lost loved ones that remain included within the garden.

 WTC Steel Debris Sculpture
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Landscape artwork is also included in the tasteful garden, including the sculpture above made from a steel beam from the World Trade Center. Reverend Mascherino conducts secular non-denominational services throughout the year. The chapel is designed to be a spiritual refuge of meditation, reflection, and prayer. Reverend Mascherino is truly an inspirational man and his story touched me deeply. He is living proof of how positive outcomes can often emerge from horrific events when people unite and work together.

 Local Shanksville Support
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The chapel is located a few miles from the UA93 crash site at 1790 Coleman Station Road in Friedens, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit their web site at www.flt93memorialchapel.org



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Friday, August 14, 2009

Shanksville / Sept 11th - Part # 2

In the Wake of Tragedy
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Visiting the Shanksville Site


Last summer, I was privileged to be part of a PA Governors Teacher's Institution that involved travel across the Lincoln highway through South Central Pennsylvania. Out last stop was the crash site of Flight UA93, which is located in a lonely field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attack on America on September 11, 2001 went far beyond the Twin Towers in New York City. The Pentagon in Washington D.C. and the quiet community of Shanksville, Pennsylvania were also physically touched by the tragedy. In fact, the entire nation and much of the world were emotionally touched. Which is why, so many people have made the journey to places like Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville since the initial event.


Shanksville is a far away place, far away from commercial cities, far away from political tensions, yet it became part of the sacred triangle of tragedy due to the selfless actions of a group of strangers who came together in desperation. The passengers of Flight UA93 took matters into their own hands, as the plane they were held hostage in, made an abrupt turn towards the nation's capital. The famous phrase of Let's Roll did not save the brave passengers of Flight 93, but their actions and eventual sacrifice did save the lives of unknown others who were sure to become human targets on the ground. The red arrow in the photo above and below designates the actual crash site between the field and tree line, which in not accessible to the public. This view is as close to the crash site as visitors can get.

 Crash Site Location
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The site is just as quiet now as it was before the tragedy but for different reasons. The property is actually a reclaimed coal strip mine, which up until the crash, was reclaimed as fertile, productive farmland. The area is peaceful and beautiful with sprawling green meadows, green woods, distant colorful farms, and even a calm lake. This quiet setting naturally lends itself to the current task of mourning tremendous loss. However, there are intense tensions swirling just outside the quiet. A tug of war of control has ensued between conflicting interests over what should be done, concerning the future of the property.

 Federal Government Presence
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First and foremost are the victim's families who want control over how the site should be developed as a memorial to honor their lost loved ones. In addition to a monument, the site will also forever be a cemetery as the fallen remain on site, entombed within the crash site itself. The landowner also has a stake in what happens. Since the tragedy, the landowner has not been able to farm the land and has lost several hundred thousands of dollars in lost crop revenues. The small shed in the photograph above represents the Federal Government's presence on the site, staking a claim to what role they may play within the future development of the property. And last but not least, you have ordinary Americans who feel a connection to the event and often leave monuments and tributes of their own behind that remain long after their visit.

 Memorial Gifts on Display
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All of America has a stake in what happened at Shanksville, PA and we also all have some stake in how the legacy of the site will be preserved for eternity. Until then, the court room dramas and self interest struggle will continue the debate long into the future. Like Ground Zero, nothing is really happening yet and that may be just the way it should remain for now.






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Ground Zero / Sept 11th - Part # 1

In the Wake of Tragedy
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Visiting the Ground Zero Site

A Hole in the City
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While in New York Katelyn and I visited the Ground Zero site from the September 11th attacks. It was a bright sunny day but there was still aura of sadness and tragedy in the air. It is really just a big hole in the middle of the city, a big empty gap where there shouldn't be one.

 Ground Zero Visitors
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The amazing thing to me about New York City in general, is how every single square foot throughout the city seems to be developed in way, shape, or form. When you come into the Ground Zero area, it is amazing how large the open space feels, the huge space is striking and impossible to absorb from any form of media. The Power of Place gives you a unique experience in this sacred space that is impossible to duplicate from any other format.

 View Through Gate C-3
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It is hard to get a good view of the base of the site because the entire area is surrounded by a tall chain link fence that is blackened out to block your view. The only way to really see anything below the fence line is to find one of the gates where heavy equipment can descend into the belly of the site via a network of ramps as shown in the picture above. People are drawn to these doorways and gather to get a glimpse of sacred ground but remain shut out by the large chain link gate and site security guards.

 View Into the Pitt
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I was told that there was an observation deck for tourists located at some point along the construction fence edge, but the huge size of the perimeter would make finding it quite a hike. However, I was able to find a small hole in the material covering the fence that was high and almost out of reach. I was able to stretch out and point my camera lens down through the gap without seeing what I was shooting but came away with the following two captured frames seen above and below this paragraph.

 View Into the Pitt
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A lot of talk and has been batted back and forth of what to do with the site. To many, the sixteen acre plot it is now sacred ground to which they have an emotional connection, and argue it should become a national landmark. On the other hand, the site is one of the most valuable commercial properties in the world with its close proximity to Wall Street and the financial district of New York. Talk of building the Freedom Tower persist but so far nothing seems to be happening and that is just what most people want.

Deconstructing Process
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This building pictured above is the Deutsche Bank Building, which did not fall during the attacks, but was so damaged from toxic dust during the event that it was deemed as unrepairable and must now be destroyed. However, it is located just outside the fence perimeter and as a result, must be disassembled one floor at a time. It is a very slow process but is a necessary procedure to protect the surrounding structures that were unharmed or have since been repaired and are currently open for business.

 Station 10 Fire Truck
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The (3C) gate we were viewing the site from is also home to Fire Department Engine & Ladder Company # 10 who are located just off the site. They were the first to respond to the call on that fateful morning and sadly lost six members of their crew when the towers collapsed. Just around the corner of the station on Liberty Street is the F.D.N.Y. Memorial Wall, which commemorates the ultimate sacrifice of the fire fighters who lost their lives trying to save others within the towers and surrounding structures.

F.D.N.Y. Memorial Wall
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The F.D.N.Y. Memorial Wall was a gift to the fallen from the law firm of Holland and Knight's charitable foundation. The memorial is a 56 foot long bronze sculpture depicting the men, equipment, and life saving tactics used during the events surrounding September, 11 2001. It contains the names of all 343 members of the fire department within the monument who lost their lives when the towers collapsed. It is a quiet and moving tribute where people come to reflect and sometimes leave tokens of respect and sorrow.

Freedom Tower Concept
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Above are artist concept drawings of the proposed Freedom Tower, which may resemble and reflect the future of the World Trade Center Site. Some form of structure someday will rise within the site and attempt to frame the watershed moment with the construction of steel and stone. Regardless, the true monument and memorial will always remain within individual space, supported only by our own thoughts, memories, and remorse.



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