The legend of Pownal’s ‘Weeping Rocks’

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(Host) Commentator Joe Citro pleads with people of Pownal: preserve the Weeping Rocks.

(Citro) After the recent election of a Republican governor, I wonder what fate holds in store for Vermont. I know the town of Pownal is expecting monumental changes: supposedly the racetrack will reopen. Such an event can cause a domino effect: mega-hotels, chain restaurants, tourist traps, and resuscitation of suffering businesses. But there are downsides to such illusions of progress and I want to examine one today: the possible destruction of an old-time curiosity.

In days passed, sightseers ventured from far and wide to observe Pownal’s “Mystery Spot.” But today it has trickled out of favor. You won’t find it in guide books; locals can’t say exactly where it is. In fact, most Vermonters have never heard of “The Weeping Rocks.” The story goes that in pre-colonial days resident Native Americans felt secure in their entitlement to the land and its bounty. They believed their tribe would always prevail, that in any confrontation they’d never be defeated until, as they said, “the rocks weep.” This belief sustained them through many misfortunes.

Then one day a chieftain happened upon a hidden rock enclosure and the sight filled him with terror: the rocks were actually weeping. The fatal prediction had come true! The next time enemies fell upon them, they offered little resistance. Weakened by terror and despair, the tribe was exterminated. History doesn’t necessarily corroborate the story, but the rocks are still there and they’re still weeping. Perhaps for the fallen tribe.

This mysterious place is set on a steep embankment between Pownal and Williamstown, Massachusetts. Even in times of drought, water drips constantly, like a tiny rainstorm, contributing to Weeping Rocks’ magical aura. You can see them for yourself: they’re right across the highway from the racetrack. And that makes them vulnerable. A misplaced hotel, Pizza Hut, or parking lot would destroy them forever. I’d like to propose a revisionist legend for Republican s and Democrats alike: Vermont will be secure and will prevail… as long as the rocks continue to weep.

This is Joe Citro.

Copyright 2002 Joe Citro

Joe Citro is a novelist and native Vermonter who lives in Burlington. His new book with Philip Baruth is “Vermont Air: Best of the Vermont Public Radio Commentaries.”

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