April 11, 2011

Knox in da' House

The Knox Trail marker in Blandford, Massachusetts stands at the center of a collection of monuments located on a triangle-shaped splash of grass at intersection of Route 23 and North Blandford road. In front of the town garage, at the base of a set of flagpoles, Knox is flanked by monuments dedicated to the Civil War, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The last two being labeled as a "conflict" and "the period," respectively. After perusing the garage parking lot for signs of life I moved a couple hundred feet down the road to the Town Offices and Post Office. Both were closed. Anticipating lunch in Westfield I decided to leave Blanford for Russell.

"No, General Henry Knox never lived here," was not an answer Richard Hansen, a long time employee of the local Strathmore Paper, anticipated giving when he named his bed & breakfast in Russell, General Knox House. Nevertheless it is one he gives regularly. Hansen's establishment is just a stone's throw southeast of the Knox Trail marker in Russell. It stands at the intersection of Gen. Knox Rd. and S. Quarter Rd. As Richard informed me, this is not the marker's original placement. It was moved from a spot on Route 20 during activities leading up the state wide Knox Trial re-enactment of 1976. Mr. Hansen was a member of the committee that relocated the marker to its present location, the site of a former schoolhouse in the formerly separate township of Woronoco.

A re-enactment of Knox's trek from Ticonderoga to Cambridge was staged as part of Bicentennial celebrations in1976. Historians and volunteers re-created the journey with a number of horse teams pulling period artillery. Mr. Hansen's children also participated dressing in period costume and joining the precession trough Woronoco. "It was a most unusual fluke" Mr. Hansen says, describing the scene at S. Quarter Rd. on that day. The re-enactment had paused at the marker site for lunch. Soup was served around a bonfire and music, that I imagine as the sound of fife's and drum's, filled the air. Just then, as "we were all standing there" an unexpected "snow-squall came up, it got dark." An unexpected snow seems a perfect addition to an event celebrating Knox's winter journey. Knox himself was occasionally delayed in 1776 byby the lack of snow during a particularly mild season.