When Dartmouth Was Buried Under Two Miles of Ice
Recent talk of global warming or climate change might have been welcome news thousands of years ago when the area was buried under ice.
Not inches of ice. Not even feet of ice. Would you believe miles of ice?
Mass Audubon says continent-wide glaciers, known as ice sheets, have covered Massachusetts in the past, the most recent occurring between 22,000 and 14,000 years ago.
According to Mass Audubon.com, "Glaciers-huge bodies of ice that move across the landscape-have blanketed our state many times in the past." The site says, "Although their causes are complex, one major factor is a regular shifting of the Earth's orbit that changes how much sunlight or energy from the sun we receive."
While the most recent glacial period of the North American ice sheet complex was known as the Wisconsin Glacial Episode or Wisconsin Glaciation, it was impactful here in Massachusetts.
The ice sheet was responsible for forming Cape Cod, Walden Pond, and even delivering Plymouth Rock, among other things.
In the SouthCoast region, the ice sheet dug out glacial eskers: winding, steep-walled ridges that can be 10 to 20 feet deep and miles long.
An example of a glacial esker can be found in Dartmouth's Destruction Brook Woods, a popular hiking area managed by the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust.
The esker is indicated by signage along the green trail, accessible by the Fisher Road entrance to the trails. Parts of Destruction Brook Woods were at one time buried under as much as two miles of glacial ice.
At the height of the Wisconsin Episode glaciation, the ice sheet covered most of Canada, the Upper Midwest and New England, as well as parts of Idaho, Montana and Washington.
Mass Audubon lists tell-tale signs, such as drumlins and erratics, to look for when scouting out the effects of the most recent glacial period. Many are apparent to hikers in the general SouthCoast area.
Dartmouth's Camp Paradise
Gallery Credit: Barry Richard
Dartmouth's History Trail Display Inside the Town Hall
Gallery Credit: Tim Weisberg