14-Nov-1998 -- November 14th was a doubly successful day as my
friend, Drew, and I traversed the 41st parallel to visit the two northern New
Jersey confluence points.
41N, 75W is located about a mile northwest of scenic Blairstown, New Jersey,
a rural town near the Delaware Water Gap. Drew (a confluence virgin) and I
set out on a beautiful Saturday morning with the goal of hitting the
Blairstown confluence, and, if time permitted, the
41N, 74W confluence on the north bank of the Hackensack river -- a point
I had tried, but failed, to reach on Labor Day.
From my studies of the terrain from the terraserver web site, I noted a long
straight feature which passed very close to the confluence point. It was not
on any of the latest road maps, although it did cross a known road, and it
appeared much too straight to be a river or stream. Only direct
investigation of the area (or better resolved satellite maps) would
elucidate this mystery.
When we arrived at the point on the road where the blurry satellite feature
should have been located, all was made clear. "Of course! It's power lines!"
I exclaimed excitedly to Drew. Large towers carrying high voltage power cut
a wide swath through the forested area (photo #5). Drew, who had developed an
odd fascination with power plants in connection with an old job, wondered if
we were close to a generating station. The observation of an odd vertical
blue line on a distant hillside, apparently some kind of massive pipe, only
piqued our fascination with this country's glorious industrial
infrastructure. (Look closely at photo #5, to the right of the closest tower,
and you can see the distant pipe yourself!) But on to the matter at
hand...confluence! To our delight, the electrical towers were erected more
or less alongside the 41st parallel!
We parked the car and approached the "corridor of power". To do so, we had
to skirt the property line of a local homeowner. A dog, looking suspiciously
like a pit bull, charged toward us. Reminding myself that dogs can sense
fear, I tried to relax and appear as friendly as possible. Luckily, he was
rather friendly, and the ever-resourceful Drew managed to dispatch him with
an assured "Go home, doggie!" The only obstacle after that was a large patch
of brambles (foreshadowing events to come), which proved quite difficult to
penetrate. One of the prickers caught Drew and drew blood (no pun intended).
Once we finally made it to the cleared area under the power lines, it was an
easy journey eastward up a hill and to the confluence point, located right
at the northern edge of the corridor. After posing for pictures at the site
(photos #1 and #2), we bemoaned the
fact that there was no official confluence marker. Grabbing a pen out of his
bag, Drew attempted to rectify this situation (photo #3), scratching the
coordinates into some lichen (photo #4). "Don't worry.", he said to me. "I
used a soy based ink in the pen." This satisfied my environmentalist's
conscience, and we bounded back to the car.
Determined to solve the mystery of the pipe, we drove over and discovered
that it was the ultimate destination of the fortunate power lines!
Connecting two large reservoirs at different elevations, the pipe was a
vital component of the Yards Creek Pumped Storage Electric Generating
Station. We got to observe the pipe at close hand (photo #6), providing a
sense of closure to our confluence experience. Exhilarated, we had a quick
lunch at a truck stop at the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border and sped off on
a fresh quest.