An online journal of Mannie Gentile, a National Park Service Park Ranger working on the National Mall in our nation's capital.
DISCLAIMER: please note that this blog represents only my views and not those of the National Park Service.
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Yesterday was my regular volunteering day at Antietam and I spent a little time watching the guys build Virginia worm-rail fencing along the Sunken Road. It should be noted that much of the labor was provided by dedicated Antietam volunteers.
To make a worm rail fence, all you need is a zillion rails...
and a lot of elbow-grease...
but no post-hole digger or any fasteners of any sort. All you need is gravity.
It's a stacked fence.
The new-ness of the rails will last a few years as the weather works its magic.
I once had a little kid indignantly ask me why there were no bullet holes in the fences!
Unlike post-and-rail fences, worm-rail fences are portable...to move the fence, to adjust a borderline, to enlarge a pasture, all you have to do is restack the rails. Worm-rail fences take four times the wood but they provide a lot of flexibility to the farmer. The enormous amount of wood tied up in fences demonstrates the value to farmers of their prized woodlots. Imagine the financial hardship suffered by the farmer as armies on campaign consumed miles of fences in their cooking fires.
Watching other people work made me pretty fatigued, so I went up into the War Department tower and relaxed for an hour chatting people up.
Except for my posts from this week I see that it's almost exactly three years since my last post. Now that I'm back at my much-loved Antietam, I expect that I'll be posting with some frequency. Do stay tuned.
Just across the road from Dunker Church, on a slight rise, sits the Maryland monument. It is a little eight-sided temple - four sides for the Maryland units that fought in the battle and four for the Confederates. It's a reminder that divided Maryland was Unionist in the west, and had Confederate leanings in the east.
After three and a half years absence, I decided to get my park back. I started volunteering again at Antietam National Battlefield last Monday. This is how I started my NPS adventure nearly twelve years ago.
I'm still rangering full-time on the National Mall, and commuting twenty hours per week. I guess I got tired of waiting to be called back to Antietam. I was pretty broken hearted when I had to leave, and for over a year I expected to be hired back at any moment, but as the months turned into years, I realized that that chapter may be over. I was, I'll admit, a little angry that things ended the way that they did. But recently, I realized that any hard feelings were pointless and that I simply wanted my park back. Today was my second day on the job, hanging out in Dunker Church chatting up visitors. It sure feels good to be back... just south of Boonsboro. Mannie ps, as far as ever returning as a ranger...hope springs eternal.