|How to Access the Benfield Wildlife Viewing Platform
This Carlisle Trails Committee map shows the Benfield Land and the trail to the wildlife viewing platform. The only access is through the field from 561 South Street. It is fine to park just inside the field, conditions permitting, but more reliable parking is available a short way down South Street at the Spencer Brook Reservation. The platform cannot be reached from Hartwell Road.
Building the Benfield wildlife viewing platform – December, 2010 through May, 2011
|Dec 8-10, 2010 – Helical pier foundations were screwed into the ground by workers from Solid Earth Technologies using a motor attached by a hydraulic hose to a small hydraulic generator located on shore. 5-foot sections of pipe were added as the foundations disappeared into the earth. The longest foundations, near Spencer Brook, went down 30 feet before hitting solid ground|
|Steel helical piers and extension pipes were trucked to the Benfield field near the platform site.||Workers install a helical pier, standing and sitting on a long lever arm attached to the motor to give more downward force. The hydraulic generator is in the right foreground.||Completed installation of helical piers with mounting brackets attached.|
Dec. 17, 2010 – After the ground was frozen but before the first snow, a truck from Concord Lumber delivered wood and hardware to the site, which was covered with tarps (just in case it snowed this winter).
The planned start of construction over the Christmas to New Year’s week was delayed by the Dec. 26 snowstorm. The early January thaw melted the snow enough that vehicles could once again be driven to the site.Jan 8, 2011 – Two Steves brought an electric generator, saw horses, a ladder, and the helical pier hardware to the site in preparation for construction, and covered everything with tarps.
|Jan. 9, 2011 – In a full day of construction, 12 volunteers built the wood frame for the boardwalk and platform. First they bolted double 2x12 beams to the helical pier brackets, then attached 2x10 joists to the beams. Louise Hara and Sylvia Willard were much appreciated for bringing in hot soup and sandwiches for lunch, in addition to hot cocoa, coffee, and donuts in the morning.|
|Installing beams on the frozen Spencer Brook wetland.||An enthusiastic Erin helps George Fardy attach a beam to a pier.||The beams are all in place. Time for lunch!|
|Joists all installed on beams, looking from shore out to the platform.||The elliptical platform framework viewed from Spencer Brook.||As daylight fades, Steve Hinton climbs up for the first view.|
And then it snowed. And snowed. And snowed.
Realizing that the site would not be snow-free before the spring thaw and flood, which would make construction impossible, preparations were made for another work day in the deep snow.Feb. 6, 2011 – The Cox family and the two Steves strapped on snowshoes and shouldered snow shovels and headed into the site in three feet of soft snow, sinking over a foot even with snowshoes. (Vehicles were parked on the closed section of West Street past Pope Road because South Street was narrowed by huge snow banks.) The buried lumber piles were located by their rounded outlines in the snow and excavated, like an archaeological dig, and a pathway was shoveled to the platform. By the time they got back to South Street, there was a good snowshoe trail to the site.
|Steve Hinton shoveling a path to the platform.||Henry Cox standing on top of a wood pile after digging down to it.||The wood piles are excavated.||The pathway to the platform is finished.|
|Feb. 12, 2011 – Second full day of construction at the platform site. Since vehicles couldn't be driven to the site in the deep snow, tools and hardware were hauled to the site in cargo sleds and carried in backpacks by 8 volunteers on snowshoes. DPW Superintendent Gary Davis had plowed an opening off South Street to allow the gear to be unloaded. The day started off cold, 15 degrees, but got up to freezing. Late in the day the sun came out, then there were a few scenic snowflakes during the departure at dusk. The day’s work consisted of cutting and nailing in additional joists and blocking to support future hand rails, installing all of the decking on the boardwalk and platform, and doing rough cutting of the platform to its elliptical shape.|
|Bringing in the gear.||George Fardy putting the decking on the boardwalk.||Alan Ankers, Steve Tobin, Kevin Smith, Steve Hinton, and Henry Cox after the decking is all attached.|
Feb. 19-20, 2011 – Cutting and drilling the railing posts. The crew spent two mornings in Steve Hinton’s luxurious heated garage preparing the steel posts that will support the hand rail cables. The steel pipes were cut to length, holes were drilled for the cables and for bolts to attach the posts to the wood frame, the edges of the holes were filed smooth, and caps were put on the top of the posts. In addition, Kevin Smith and George Fardy dug a 250 pound concrete parking bumper out of a snow bank at the O’Rourke farm, trucked it to the Benfield land, and hauled it part way to the platform site on a sled. Soft snow from Friday’s 60-degree afternoon kept them from reaching their destination. Finally, taking advantage of the snow-free weather, Steve Hinton and Steve Tobin used two nails, some string, and a Sharpie to draw out the ellipse outline on the platform, in preparation for cutting to final shape.
|Henry Cox cutting pipe to length.||Steve Hinton marking locations for drill holes.||Bert Willard drilling holes in pipes, accompanied by Louise Hara on oil can.||George Fardy filing edges of drill holes.||Steve Tobin drawing the ellipse on the platform with Sharpie.|
|Feb. 26, 2011 – Despite 20-degree temperatures, heavy rain and warmer temperatures earlier in the week had softened the snow, so the many trips hauling the sleds used to transport steel pipes for the handrails and the 5' lengths of lumber for the kick rails required snowshoes or the patience to endure repeated postholing. The concrete bumper could only be moved about 100 feet closer to the site before it sank in the snow. With the wood and pipes finally at the site, the crew installed a total of 24 hand rail pipes on the boardwalk. It was slow, meticulous work to get them all aligned and vertical. A three person team cut the ellipse to final size: Steve T operated the saws, Louise held a snow shovel to catch the sawdust, and Alan caught the cut ends to keep them from falling in the slush below the platform. The kick rails were also installed along one side of the boardwalk. The crew had a fine lunch on the platform, legs dangling off the side. Hauling out the sleds at the end of a 9-hour day, two areas of open water were found in the snow on the woods road near the big boulder. While we managed to navigate them with the sleds, it was clear that the spring thaw was approaching and we needed to finish soon before Spencer Brook melted.|
|Marc installing kick rails; Alan, Henry, and Kevin installing hand rail posts.||Alan, Steve, Henry, Marc, and Kevin on the elliptical platform.|
|March 4, 2011 – Finish installing hand rail posts, string cable, and finish kick rails. A cold snap (12 degrees in the morning) provided ice to stand on under the platform. All the hand rail posts were finished and the cable was strung for the railings. Half of the turnbuckles (to tension the cables) were installed, as were the remainder of the kick rails on the boardwalk. Jic Davis volunteered some cedar logs to serve as supports for benches, so they were dug out of the snow at his house, cut to length, and hauled to the site. They were precision shaped by Henry using a claw hammer to fit the structure and bolted on. It was dark by the time the crew got the sleds back to the cars, after a long, 10.5-hour day of work in the snow.|
|Steve Hinton proving that the cable really would go through the holes in the pipes.||Henry doing precision carpentry on cedar log bench supports with a claw hammer.||Two cedar bench supports installed..|
March 5, 2011 – Finishing up the platform. The last of the turnbuckles were installed. The areas where the benches had yet to be built were roped off to keep people from falling off the platform. A 2x12 ramp was built from the snowy shore to the existing end of the platform. A full thaw was needed to bring the last 15 feet of the boardwalk all the way to ground level.
March 12, 2011 – George extended the ramp and made it more stable, in preparation for the full moon walk.
March 19, 2011 – The Carlisle Trails Committee led more than 60 people on a night walk from the Spencer Brook Reservation at the corner of South and West streets up South Street, across the Benfield Land to the platform site to view the "super" full moon.
|Temporary ramp until full thaw.||Ramp extended after more melting took place.||The super moon rises above the platform.|
|April 9, 2011 – Finishing up the boardwalk. The 250-pound concrete bumper was moved to the site using Marc’s famous bumper bike and set in place. It was the foundation for the last segment of the boardwalk. The last 15 feet of joists and decking were installed, the end was boxed in, and a step was built to ground level.|
|Bert, Henry and Louise attaching the first lengths of native cedar for backing the benches.||Alan, Marc, and Steve making the all-important first step.||The day's crew proudly standing above the completed step to the boardwalk to the platform..|
|Mayday, 2011 – Making the benches. The cedar pieces that comprise the back rests were dead wood found on the Benfield land with natural curves that fit wonderfully with the curves of the elliptical platform. The seats are 2x6 western red cedar, supported by natural red cedar posts.|
|Sizing up the curved cedar pieces that will back the two benches.||Hand-drilling holes for the bolts to secure the cedar back rests.||Bench test.|
Panoramic views across the Spencer Brook
|Looking left, or northeast..||Straight ahead, southeast view.||Looking right, or southwest..|
|Open to the public - At a neighbor’s request, a sign reading “Please respect our neighbors’ privacy” was installed.|
|Looking up the boardwalk to the platform at the end.||Looking back toward the Benfield Land from the platform.|