How ironic that a photograph of the Dutchess Quarry — on Christmas Eve no less — appeared in the New Year issue of your paper - the very same issue that talked about an upcoming meeting of the Historical Society and included a compelling article about a couple preserving an overgrown cemetery.
I asked myself: If we truly value our history, what are we doing about the prehistoric caves near the Quarry in Goshen?
I had to look twice at that picture. At first, I thought it was a snapshot of the caves themselves. It took me a long moment to think whoa! wait! What’s wrong with this picture? How could prehistoric people dig a cave like that? I then realized what should have been obvious - I was looking at the enormous gravel pit that sits alongside of the caves. Wow.
I’ve driven Quarry Road (wouldn’t Caves Road be more appropriate?) in Goshen many times when my mother resided in the aptly named Valley View Home. I’m, guessing those cave dwellers were no strangers to the concept of location, location, location when it comes to choosing real estate. The view of the region from that spot is spectacular. Any approaching enemy (as well as any unsuspecting, grazing mastodon) wouldn’t have had a chance if they were espied from that perch.
The caption on your photo says these caves are an archeological treasure - the oldest sites of prehistoric human habitation and activity east of the Mississippi. They date back an unfathomable 12,400 to 15,000 years. I thought about how sickened I was years ago when ISIS plundered antiquities in cities they’d captured in the Middle East. Those antiquities weren’t even a gleam in civilization’s eye when those caves were housing our ancestors. How can we let this treasure go unpreserved?
If we truly honor our history, these caves should get the rock star celebrity they deserve. They shouldn’t have to sit on shaky ground as a quarry blasts a bottomless pit next door. To allow that to happen gives the word “pitiful” a whole new meaning. I understand that we need roads ... but at what cost?
I believe these caves should be preserved as hallowed ground. Maybe then they can survive another 12,000 or maybe even 15,000 years or so.
Thanks, Orange Environment, for your efforts to do just that.