Newly exposed ‘footprint’ inspires state legends

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PROSPECT (AP) – The 420-foot-high observatory that offers panoramic views from atop the Penobscot Narrows Bridge isn’t the only attraction to emerge from construction of the new span that opened to traffic in December.

Crews blasting ledge to make way for a new path for Route 1 unearthed a granite seam that looks remarkably like a human footprint, toes and all.

Visitors to the area have noticed the foot that hovers high above the road near the top of the ledge and have asked about it, said Cindy Kimball of Orland, executive director of the Bucksport Bay Chamber of Commerce.

Most don’t see it while driving because they are looking at the bridge across the Penobscot River, she said, but they spot it when they visit the observatory.

“Everybody says it looks like a footprint,” Kimball said.

In addition to attracting attention, the digital image has given rise to a theory or two regarding its origin.

Alvion and Cindy Kimball have suggested that the footprint is a remnant from an old American Indian legend surrounding the spirit Glooscap and how he tamed the winds created around the Penobscot Bay area when Wuchosen, the Great Wind Bird, flapped his wings from atop a large rock at the end of the sky.

Glooscap, according to the legend, climbed the rock and bound the bird’s wings to keep them from generating strong winds that prevented tribal members from going out to sea in their canoes.

The footprint, according Cindy Kimball, is proof that the legend is real.

“When I first saw it, I said to Alvion, ‘It’s a perfect footprint,”‘ she said. “We thought it was left by the god climbing up the mountain to reach Wuchosen.”

The state Department of Transportation manager for the bridge project offers a more scientific explanation.

The strip of granite in the ledge is an inclusion, a remnant of volcanic activity in the area thousands of years ago, Tom Doe said.

The location of the granite seam was once a crack in the surrounding rock, he said. When molten material rose up from deep inside the earth, it filled the crack and hardened into granite, creating the inclusion, which remained hidden until it was exposed during the blasting for the bridge.

AP-ES-07-23-07 1029EDT

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