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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Horses and Ice

Well, here's something that's neither here nor there, but I'm curious about it.

On December 23rd 2005 LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at the commemoration of Joseph Smith's 200th birthday. In the course of his remarks, President Hinckley told the story of the 100-year-old monument which today graces the spot in Vermont where Joseph was born.

The monument is a 40-ton polished granite obelisk that measures 38 and a half feet tall. It was brought from the mill where it was cut and polished, to its final resting place, in November of 1805.

My curiosity is in the story of the monument's trip across country. President Hinckley stated the following (as reported in Deseret News):
A special steel-tired wagon was used to move the stone

The wagon was pulled by 22 horses

A bridge over the White River had to be strengthened to sustain the load

It was necessary to take the wagon and its load through a swamp

Rocks were dumped into the swamp, but they sank out of site

Hardwood planking over the swamp was useless

The weather had been relatively warm for that time of year

Overnight, the temperature dropped 30 degrees

In the morning, the swamp was frozen solid

Twenty-two horses pulling the steel-tired wagon carrying a load of 40 tons of granite passed over the swamp without difficulty

I'm not the scientific type, but I am from Minnesota. As a kid I wasn't allowed to go ice skating on the swamp near my home until well into December—the ice wasn't safe before that, though we always had plenty of very cold weather.

So I don't know. This story of the monument's trip across the swamp…can it be true? Can a swamp deep enough to swallow a load of rocks really freeze solid overnight? Could that new ice really support 40 tons of granite and 22 horses clomping across it? Or is this just folklore similar to "the miracle of the seagulls"?

It doesn't really matter; I'm just curious. Does anybody know?

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