Visiting Walden

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau

On our way to Boston this year for Thanksgiving Break, we decided to stop at Walden Pond, and discover our inner transcendentalists. The pond is only about half an hour outside the city, near the small town of Concord (site of the Lexington and Concord Battle of the Revolutionary War).

We visited the replica of the cabin that Thoreau built, on the land owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. The cabin is quite simple, holding only a cot, a desk, and a wood-burning stove. Inside the cabin is a list of how much the materials cost.

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Next we walked around the lake, or pond. It is actually quite deep- it is 108 feet deep in the middle, and was formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago. It’s a kind of lake called a “kettle lake” because of the shape it makes, and because it has not river going into or out of it.  In the 1800s, the lake would freeze over, and they would cut blocks of ice from the lake and put the ice on ships to send down to the Caribbean and even to India. The water is very clear and very pure. Around part of the lake is a sandy beach, and people go swimming there in the summer.

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On one side of the lake, a few meters up the hill from the water’s edge, you can see the foundation from Thoreau’s cabin. For years no one knew exactly where the cabin had been; it wasn’t until 1940 that an amateur archaeologist went out and started digging around in the woods, looking for the exact spot.  He found the footings for the chimney and now a marker shows the spot where the house was. About 700,000 people visit the Walden park every year now.

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