Photo by RLHall, ArtfulExpress All Rights Reserved
I have been exploring Armenia Mountain by car or by foot at least once a year since before I was old enough to drive. For some reason I had some curious interest in the place, even before I knew that it was the area of highest elevation in the region or that my direct ancestors where amoung the very first group of settlers to bushwack their way from Springfield Mass to what was then Bradford Co PA.
This was very dense wilderness at that time full of many dangerous animals including Rattle Snakes, Panthers and Bear, not to mention the Native Americans who claimed the lands as their own. My Brooks family settled on Armenia Mountain, their settlement maps are still available for veiwing and if you tromp through the overgrown woods you can still find the old stone foundations and boundary lines marked by ancient stone walls still partly standing. Exploring a little deeper into the forest, underneath fallen trees and thorny brambles you can still find the small cemetery where my Great Grandparents, and their Parents and siblings are buried. Under all the overgrowth, simple spring bulbs still flower among the weathered and broken grave stones. Several of these men became translators, learning the Native languages and befriending the Indians. And it is said that in our line flows some Indian blood. Even my paternal Gandmother Brooks still claimed that she had Indian blood coursing through her veins and that her appearance attested to the fact.
There are a few dirt roads through the area which is mostly in Tioga Co PA now. A few country houses dot the roadsides here and there, but it is still mostly secondary woods with some fields. Naturally I was concerned when it was decided that a Wind Farm was slated to be installed on the mountain area. Would they clear all the forests and destroy all the old foundations and cemeteries? I am very much in favor of a more environmental approach to energy production. But these thoughts, and concern for the wildlife in the area and the possible ruination of a large natural resource caused me to research the Wind Turbines and the affects their presence would have on the land. Residents voiced complaints that the visable turbines would dominate and mar the natural landscape, and there were fears that the noise and vibration from these huge machines would deter from the normal quality of life far around them. The safety of the underground path that the electricity would take to the collection machinery came into question. The project was approved despite many objections. And my research met with conflicting statements and emotions, none of which could be definately proved. The installation seems to be completed now and I took a ride last weekend to see how the final results appeared to be and how they might have affected the environment.
The first thing that I noticed was that the turbines were huge, and though they had an alien quality to them and certainly do not blend in with the natural surroundings - there is a kind of mesmorizing beauty about them. The many turbines are scattered along the mountain ridges, but unlike the windfarms I've seen in NY where I live, the wooded areas are largely left intact and the turbines are seperated from each other by large chunks of natural landscape. It was difficult to get close enough to them to hear the noises or vibrations they make. The historic foundations and cemetery sites that I was worried about were left undisturbed. When I spoke to area residents and asked them how they felt about the changes, they mostly just shrugged their shoulders or simply said 'They're here'. I heard no belligerant complaints. Though I had no conversations with any of the residents who's land was leased by the company, I assume that they are somewhat pleased to be compensated for the use of their land though I don't know if their proximity to the turbines might sometimes be close enough to be irritating. All in all, it doesn't seem as bad as I imagined but I intend to continue investigating the situation as it unfolds. Most residents in my area of NYS are fighting against the construction of wind farms and I find myself thinking that I would much rather welcome wind turbines than the Natural Gas drilling that has begun taking over the area, both here and on Armenia Mountain.