Last weekend my son and I foresook our weekly grocery shopping trip at the West Falmouth Hannaford. Instead we crossed the bridge on the south end of the parking lot and ended up taking a walk on an ancient sea floor. Don't get me wrong, this is not a magical bridge that can transport one to a fantasyland. The bridge was built in 1859 by the railroad company to connect the Hobbs farm to the rest of society. John Hobbs homesteaded the land in 1775, and before 1859 when the railroad isolated it and the Hobbs sold it, put it to a variety of industrious uses. Like people of earlier times are fabled to have done, the Hobbs put every part of the land to use. The trees became oak shingles, the soil was farmed and the clayey sediment was extracted to make bricks. The story of these bricks extends far beyond the Hobbs enterprising spirit and thousands of years before the clay was first dug.
The story of our bricks began about 22,000 years ago when glaciers covering much of the globe decided to call it a day and begin the slow commute home from Long Island, New York (Long Island formed as the flowing ice of the glacier delivered gigantic piles of rock to its melting endpoint). At this point, Maine and the rest of northern North America were buried in ice. Heavy, heavy ice. The normally firm raft of rock, on which our continent sits, sank like a rowboat upon boarding. As melting glaciers contributed to a growing ocean, this depressed plate would make way for the intrusion of a sea much larger than today's Atlantic.
The land above the sea couldn't wait to cast off its icy water. Massive streams poured tons of melted ice into the growing sea, but the water didn't come alone. As the rivers raced to the sea their fast current picked up every stone, pebble, sand grain or mote of clay they could carry. Massive material, like stones and pebbles may have been dropped long before reaching the sea. When the stream met the water, it rapidly decelerated. Upon slow down, enough sand was dropped to create a river delta as deep with sand as a football field is long. The sand from this river's mouth can still be spied along I95 between Gray and Lewiston and is currently being quarried in Gray. But what about the bricks?
McCully, Betsy. "Ice Age." New York Nature. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.newyorknature.net/IceAge.html>.
Robinson, Michael A., Stewart K Sandberg, and Kirkpatrick Melissa D.,. "Using transient electromagnetic soundings to map the thickness of the Gray Delta, Maine, and correction of data using coil calibration to improve resolution. ." Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 33.1 (2000): 1. Print.
Weddle, Thomas K., Gray Quadrangle, Maine, 1:24,000, Augusta, ME: Natural Resources Information and Mapping, Maine Geological Survey, 1997.
"Surficial Geologic History of Maine." Maine Geological Survey. N.p., 6 Oct. 2005. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mgs/explore/surficial/facts/surficial.htm>.
"River Point Conservation Area." The Town of Falmouth . The Town of Falmouth , n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. <http://www.town.falmouth.me.us/pages/falmouthme_parks/trailmaps/RiverPoint>.