NEW SHARON — If the Global Positioning System in your vehicle says it's so then it must be so, at least that's what the drivers of vehicles Georgia Tolman pulls out of the snow, water and mud tell her.
As the sun pulls the frost from her country dirt road Wednesday, Tolman comes out from her shop, Shadagee Snowshoe Relacing, to ask, “GPS?” Sometimes, she says, she asks, “GPS or MapQuest?”
It's not the first time drivers have stopped or had to stop because of the road conditions. For the past couple of years as GPS units grew in popularity, she's gotten used to many of them continuing down past her shop and home to an area where the road turns into a snowmobile trail ... and they keep on going, she said.
Night, snow, mud, it doesn't matter. The GPS says they are on a direct road from Route 2 in New Sharon to Industry and they believe it. Many think they are headed for Shaw Hill in Industry, she said.
Although as the crow flies or the snowmobile travels, it's only about three-plus miles from her home to Shadagee Road in Industry, shortly past her house it becomes a path only available in the winter to snowmobiles and cross-country skiers.
After using her own truck, often backing it up to a mile on the narrow stretch of trail to try pulling vehicles out, she decided it was time to post some signs for those who can't figure out that it's not the best route to Industry. The number of drivers — two or three GPS drivers a week — has dwindled since the signs went up a few weeks ago. Requests for no-thruway signs from the town haven't been supplied so her nephew Jeremy Tolman, owner of Wilton Printed Products, produced a sign warning, “Your GPS is Wrong!”
Maybe the 18-wheeler with a 70-foot trailer carrying two cars from Florida last winter can be forgiven for mistaking the narrow dirt road as a thruway to Industry, but Tolman has many other stories to share.
One woman who kept on the path straight into a mud hole about three feet deep offered to pay her for towing her out, but Tolman refused, telling the woman how the “story to tell” would be enough.
As for the 18-wheeler, she got him a shovel and when he asked what it was for, she told him to pick a wheel and start shoveling. She tried helping him with her truck only to send a rock through his windshield then she and her father, the Rev. John Tolman, had to help him back the rig back out over a half-mile.
Another woman from Strong went down the road at night only to shortly find she needed to be towed. A local wrecker service said it would charge her nearly $90 for towing her and another $90 if they got stuck, Tolman said.
Cadillacs driven by well-dressed men in suits, women with babies in the vehicle at night, some who think they're headed for Poland Spring all have followed their GPS down the wrong road, she said.
One would think drivers would wonder when they're directed to turn off Route 2 to the Weeks Mills Road, travel about two miles, take a right on to Muddy Brook Road down over the bridge and up a knoll and turn left on to Shadagee.
“GPS – some people think it's God, but it doesn't stand for God at all,” said the Rev. Tolman, who lives down the road from his daughter.