Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 50-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM


WEISS, Tarin Harrar, Chemical and Physical Sciences, Westfield State University, 577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086

In Boston, in the 1860s, noted zoologist/geologist Louis Agassiz lectured about glaciers and long ice periods that had impacted northern landscapes. A piece of Agassiz’ evidence for glaciations was the existence of large boulders, made of rock not consistent with their surroundings, which were dubbed erratics. It is likely that the then controversy about ice ages was not wholly lost on the sleepy farming town of Westhampton, MA, because large erratics resolutely dotted its landscape. Tipping Rock, off Tipping Rock Road, is a car-sized erratic that has shaped Westhampton’s educational history for over 100 years. In the late 1800s, students from a one-room schoolhouse annually hiked a few miles to the rock for study and recreation. A compelling feature of the erratic is its ability to be tipped and rocked by even just a few sturdy 5th graders, an achievement experienced by untold numbers of students, teachers, and locals. Today, however, some of the lore and interest in Tipping Rock has faded. Now-retired elementary teachers, who as town-children listened to old-timers’ tales of tipping the rock when they were young, had kept the annual hike alive with their students. Now, state-mandated curriculum has crowded out time for field trips and local geo-history study. Through the geolore project, public knowledge about Tipping Rock will be revived and, hopefully, youngsters will keep hiking to, and tipping, the rock.