Historic Meridian ParkClean-Up

By Lura Jackson

A pair of local volunteers have been hard at work clearing the undergrowth and fallen tree branches from the grounds of the Meridian Park at the corner of Academy and North Street. The effort has been led by Shane Kerrigan, 18-year old owner and operator of Hot Shot Tree Services in Calais, and his assistant, 17-year old Ryan Howell of Alexander. 

The young duo has spent approximately thirty hours cutting down saplings, removing dead branches, and clearing brambles over the past month. The pair has been working each day of the week for a few hours a day, regardless of rain or shine. 

Kerrigan was inspired to begin the work to clear the park after overhearing his father talk about how someone needed to do it. Since tree and yard service requests get slower in the winter, Kerrigan saw it as an ideal opportunity to give back to the community.

The result has been a noticeable transformation of the park and its surrounding area. As one visitor commented, “It’s nice being able to see the recreation building!”

The cleanup coincides with the 148th anniversary of the completion of a series of stellar observations at the site on December 16th, 1866 that enabled the establishment of longitudinal accuracy through the use of transatlantic telegraphic transmissions. Once certain stars passed a marker, an electromagnetic transmission was sent from Calais to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland and then to Foilhommerum, Ireland, enabling observers to record precisely how much time passed between each station. According to Harold Nelson (Maine Department of Transportation Photogrammetry and Control Unit), that event played a significant role in unifying the independently produced maps of the American coastline. That, in turn, led to the creation of the first 20th century Geographic Information System, which made all of the Coast Survey maps and their measurements relative to the world. 

 

Meridian Park was established on July 2nd, 2005 as the first site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Heritage Trail. Local historians worked with the agency and other volunteers to commemorate the park for its significance to the development of scientific and technological achievement on a national level.