Friday, December 4, 2015

"If it were possible to plead ..."

After 50 years, it's safe to assume that Mrs. Gordon Brandenburg of rural College Corner won't mind if I steal some comments she wrote for publication in the Forum pages of the Dec. 1, 1965 issue Richmond Palladium-Item.

"There seems to be no feasible way to stop man in his so-called plans for progress. Each year, acres of tillable soil, thousands of trees and countless places of indescribable beauty and solitude disappear in super-highways, airports, subdivisions and artificial lakes. So it will be with the Brookville reservoir and the beautiful Whitewater valley.

"If it were possible to plead with the busy man in the White House who wants to create beauty in this fair land of ours to preserve it as it is in the miles from Brookville to Brownsville, as God made it long ago and looked upon His work and found it good, I would so so.

"Man also looked upon that valley and found it bountiful in beauty and game and fertility. Even before the white man, the Indians and their predecessors camped along the East Fork, fought their battles and built their mounds which they thought indestructible for all time.

"Often as my husband and I crested the hill near the Fairfield redbud tree, we looked across the valley and wondered how the first settlers felt as they viewed the river and fields that lay between the hills. They must have found it good for the named their little cluster of log cabins, Fairfield. They cleared the land, built churches and schools and plowed the rich soil deposited by the periodic spring floods. Here they lived and loved and labored and buried their loved ones.

"Man, with his ingenuity, can build a dam to hold back the waters of the Whitewater. He cannot give growth to one single tree or bush or wildflower. He cannot make a river and a valley.

"It is such a lovely river, beautiful in winter when the water is cold and gray as the leaden skies above; inviting in the springtime as it becomes green, reflecting the new leaves along the banks; tranquil and serene in the dappled sunlight of summer with the cotton from the cottonwood trees floating upon it; hauntingly sad in the autumn as the leaves silently fall on the water and go downstream to some unknown destination.

"The highway from Roseburg to Brookville is one of the most scenic in the state, relatively free of billboards and utility poles.

"The die is already cast; my plea would not be heard and there are many who would not agree but I would ask Mr. President to save for this generation and for those to come, this place of beauty, to preserve God's handiwork, to take into account those who have lived and labored here to revere the dead buried there, to let the trees stand in all their majesty ...

"... And to allow those who love the land to live in the homes of their forefathers, to keep for us these quiet miles of serenity, to not fill the valley with water and the resultant banks with clamor and clutter, to let these few acres of beauty and tranquility remain, which if once destroyed, can never be reclaimed and to permit our river to flow unhampered on its way."

That same week, the firm of J.C. Hood and Co. of Knoxville, Tenn., moved its earth moving equipment into the valley of the East Fork.

Mrs. Brandenburg's plea fell on deaf ears.

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