Bricks and stones were sources of stories during the walk that Hastings resident Adam Hart led through Hillside Woods on Saturday, April 17.
Hart’s tour was about the history of the woods, specifically the human history. Four weeks earlier, Hastings resident Jeff Rappaport, an earth sciences professor at Manhattan College, had also led a walk in the woods, but with a focus on the natural history.
Both events were part of a series being held in conjunction with the restoration of Hillside Woods, which involves volunteers replacing invasive vegetation with native species.
To prepare, Hart had waded through centuries of names and dates. He had also located the remains of structures, the oldest being a wall from a mansion built in 1842. In 1913, that mansion was turned into a sanitarium.
There were walls of other buildings as well, in addition to walls that had divided property. There were also foundations, some of which Hart had cleared of vegetation in preparation for the walk. The tour also included unique landmarks such as a chimney and the remains of a milk truck.
What was scheduled for an hour turned into two. During that ramble, the topic of old growth forests arose, though not in relation to Hillside Woods. Hart’s tour reinforced the fact that humans had shaped that forest through building and razing from the 19th century until it was protected as parkland in the 20th century.
Last year, next to the Hillside Tennis Courts, a kiosk was unveiled that includes a map of Hillside Woods. Hart used GPS to produce that map. Professionally, he teaches guitar and Jewish history. He also performs.
During the walk, Hart often mentioned Native Americans. At one point, while standing on the foundation of a forgotten building, he held a rock he had found. Markings on the rock, as well as its shape, made him wonder it was once used as a tool or a weapon.
“It’s amazing how a rock can instill someone’s imagination and curiosity,” he said.
Hart’s next history walks will be Saturday, May 1 and Saturday, May 15, both starting at 2 p.m. Jeff Rappaport’s next geology walk will be Saturday, June 12, at 10 a.m. For more info, and to register, visit hastingsgreen.org.