Today I went to Concord, NH, to get my truck undercoated. While my truck was being undercoated, I walked with my dog along a nearby disused rail line. There were trees growing up between some of the ties. Lovely grasses and autumn colors. Large rusted old industrial buildings along the rail line, each with its own rail siding. Along the rail line, I saw a rusted old boxcar now blocked in by trees grown up around it. I thought of the hobos of the early twentieth century.
A stoutly constructed 2 story brick building was overgrown but appeared to be in good shape. Presumably, it was where the railroad officials watched for trains and directed traffic.
Also present were aspects of current American activity: unapologetic plastic trash, colorful graffiti, and constant traffic noise from a bordering highway. And numerous soggy mattresses, stray shopping carts, and chairs.
Farther down the track, hidden in the dense undergrowth, I noticed a group of 3 tents. They appeared to be in good condition and I presumed that they were inhabited.
As I walked on, I started looking more carefully and noticed tents at other locations along the tracks and along the highway nearby.
There are supermarkets and restaurants abutting the rail line and suppose the tent dwellers scavenge there. I presume that in the winter they find indoor accommodations or move south. I didn’t see any dwellings that would endure the weight of snow.
Twice I encountered lone pedestrians, 30 to 40-year-old males. Each had a backpack and each looked a little gruff. Each dressed in the kind of clothes that would suit either a manual laborer or a homeless person. It occurred to me that the tent dwellers might also have jobs. It also occurred to me that they are the least environmentally objectionable segment of our society. I very much wanted to talk with them but I didn’t want them to feel like objects of curiosity. I was worried that I might be seen photographing their surroundings. I didn't want to make them feel bad. I was a little cautious for my safety but I reminded myself that they certainly feel the same way about me.
Earlier in the walk, I had noticed a sign posted by someone looking for their lost dog. Later I noticed another identical sign. I thought these odd places to post such signs but I realized that tent dwellers might have the time and inclination to befriend a timid lost dog. I noticed several examples of what appeared to be intentionally made shelters for small animals, dogs I presume.
I saw a small memorial to a deceased person. There were numerous small items: a pair of sandals, a collection of tiny liquor bottles, a statue of a cherubic angel, toy race car, some plastic flowers, several Christian crosses.
There was a very faded photo of a reclining and smiling lad of perhaps 25 years. Scrawled was the inscription, “In memory of T. Milligan”
I saw along the rail line much recent evidence of intention.
Along the rail line is this round brick building constructed in the 1800's by the local natural gas utility company. This is what municipal natural gas storage tanks looked like before large metal tanks replaced them. Surviving brick examples like this one are rare. The cupola was tilted by the hurricane of 1938 and has remained that way since. That's a slate roof.
After my truck was finished, I drove down route 3 instead of getting back on the superhighway. I saw this memorial in Pembroke. Although one can't see the hat very well in this photo, the soldier looked like he was in Union Civil War garb. I wondered if the monument was any less objectionable than the monuments to Confederate soldiers.
A little farther south, still in Pembroke, I saw a cluster of about 20 tiny houses on about 2 acres. They looked to be at least 50 years old. They were placed at various angles and there were several large sugar maple trees. There was a dirt driveway that snaked between them. It was all very tidy. I thought that we should permit and promote this kind of sensible development in Massachusetts.