The Elk on the Summit

The Elk on the Summit
The Elk on the Summit

Today, in the 40 Days of Pastoral Blogging, is bloggers choice.  This is a day that Fr. John has given us to write about whatever we want, sort of freestyle if you will.  So today I am going to write about a recent trip I took to Florida.  Not that Florida.

One of the many hats I wear is the hat of Animal Control Officer in the Town of Dudley Massachusetts.  Appointed on July 1st of this year it is my job to pick up stray dogs, investigate abuses claims and also inspect barns and livestock in the Town, this is the part I like best about the job.  We also, from time to time, have to deal with residents who, for whatever reason, need to surrender their companion animal.  Without going in to much detail I took in a senior dog that I knew was going to be hard to place.  I also do not like to keep animals in the shelter any longer than I have to as the dog really starts to deteriorate.

I needed help to place this dog so I started calling other shelters and I came across the Berkshire Humane Society in Pittsfield Massachusetts.  They are a nonprofit shelter and they were will to take Dakota into their shelter and place her in a good home.  Larger shelters usually have a network that they can reach out to in cases like this.  So on Friday I loaded Dakota in the truck and headed west to Pittsfield.  I arrived and got her all settled in without incident.  I decided that on my return trip I would take a little detour and head to Florida Massachusetts.

Florida Welcome Sign

Florida Massachusetts is in the upper western corner of Massachusetts on the Vermont boarder in Berkshire County at the highest point on the Mohawk Trail.  Florida was settled in 1783 and given the name Florida, some believe, because Spanish Florida was a topic of conversation at the time.  Florida is a farming community producing maple syrup, wool, and potatoes. In 2010 Florida had a population of 752, not the smallest community in Massachusetts but close.

I like small towns, I like the feel of them and I like to see what happens to be around.  Usually steeped in history there is something that one can find that is out of the ordinary.  You never know what you will find as you take the next turn and that sense of adventure drives you forward in the hopes of discovering something.

Friday was a rainy day and up in the mountains the fog had begun to settle in.  The road was winding along, following the contours of the mountain, when all of a sudden there it was a giant bronze elk standing right there atop Whitcomb’s Summit.  The summit is actually the top of the Hoosac Mountain, at 2272 feet, but it is called Whitcomb’s Summit because that is the name of the hotel that is right there at the top.

Back to the elk.  I was amazed and almost caused an accident trying to get across the road to see what this magnificent creature was doing perched at the top of this mountain.  The bronze elk was behind a black fence standing on top of a large rock.  On the face of the rock was a dedication plaque giving a bit of history.

Elk Plaque
Dedication Plaque

The Elk on the Trail in Memory of the Brothers of the Massachusetts Elks Association who died in the World War.  Erected by the Association 17th June 1923.

Tradition tells the story that the summit was chosen because it is the highest point along the Mohawk trail and with all of the visitors, with their new automobiles, coming by each year it was a fitting place for the memorial.  I was amazed!  Who knew!

I stood there, shivering in the cold, and pondering all of this and giving thanks for what these men had done, given their lives in the service of their country.  Seemed somewhat fitting since it was the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy and the next day was the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg.

I will have to return on a clear day and take in the view that the Elk has each and every day.  If you ever find yourself driving along the Mohawk Trail, take a moment to stop in Florida and check out the Elk on the Summit.  You will not be disappointed.


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