NORWAY — It was a valiant effort Friday, but in the end the Komatsu 382 excavator was no match for the massive Indian Rock beside Route 117.

Town officials gathered early in the morning to watch what they hoped
would be the successful removal of the rock, which has a deep depression
that some people believe American Indians used for grinding corn. The rock has to be removed or blasted to make way for a $1.6 million
road reconstruction project by project the Maine Department of Transportation.

Town officials committed themselves earlier this summer to trying to
save the rock, with hopes of putting it at the Lake Pennesseewassee
picnic area with an accompanying history display. Legend has it that the rock was used by early natives to grind corn or
tan hides, but state archaeologists, who have examined it several
times over the past 20 years, say there is no evidence that the site
was occupied by American Indians in the early 1600s. The rock’s deep
depression is simply a natural formation, the experts say.

It didn’t take long Friday to see that removal efforts weren’t going to work.

“It’s not moving,” Selectman Irene Millett said as she and fellow
board member Bruce Cook and Town Manager David Holt stood watching the
K&K excavator being pulled back and up off the ground a few feet by
the weight of the massive rock. The visible part apparently is
the top of a
much larger rock that probably extended across the road, officials
said.

David Lycette, resident engineer for the MDOT’s Highway Program, said the plan was to loosen the rock Friday and eventually move it off site.

Excavator operator Dustin Hackett tried for nearly 30 minutes to budge the rock, to no avail.

“I think that’s about it. I don’t know if we can do much more,” said Lycette, who offered to give town officials several more weeks to come up with another plan.

Dynamite
seemed to be the only other option to save the outcropping, but at a cost of tens of thousands
of dollars just to ignite the first stick, it was deemed too expensive
and dangerous, and a further delay to the reconstruction project.

“Dynamite is not an option,” Cook said. “And we don’t want to delay the project.”

“It’s not hard to make a decision when there are no choices,” Holt said.

So in the next several weeks, road crews will blast the rock to bits.

The priority is to make the road safe, Holt said, because there have been more than 50
serious accidents on the highway in the past several
years.

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Crews rebuilding Route 117 in Norway tried unsuccessfully to remove Indian Rock on Friday morning, but found the outcropping with its deep depression impossible to move. Because of the cost, risk and time to dynamite it to save the outcropping, officials decided it will be blasted.

David Lycette, right, engineer for the Maine Department of Transportation’s highway program, talks with construction workers Friday as they try to determine if Indian Rock beside Route 117 in Norway can be removed. The outcropping is a portion of a much larger rock that proved immovable. Officials decided it will have to be blasted apart to accommodate the road rebuilding project.


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