Some really large stones recently took up residence in the Adventure Play Zone (Zone 2) of Playcosystem at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. It’s a really cool story how they ended up here. The Padgett family living near Bardstown, KY had 19 very large stones they needed moved from their property to make way for a building project, but their children enjoyed playing on the rocks in their back yard. The children ALSO loved playing at Playcosystem, however, so they thought if the stones moved to Playcosystem they would live on as a play structure for their children and thousands of others. After looking at the huge fossil filled limestone rocks formed over 250 million years ago as part of a shallow inland sea, the Playcosystem team fell in love with them. We know that children love clambering around on rocks. Moving 19 stones from Bardstown to Bernheim is no small feat, however. It would involve a 75-ton crane, a 12 ton fork lift, several heavy duty flatbed trucks, a team of crane operators and riggers, and good old fashioned planning and grit. Fortunately, Padgett Inc. (no relation to the Padgett family that donated the stone) stepped up to the plate and gave us a great deal on the necessary crane work. Then the James Graham Brown Foundation came through with significant funding for the next phases of Playcosystem. We had what we needed in order to make our rock dreams a reality.
Now 18 of the 19 stones have been moved to Playcosystem to create a rock scramble play opportunity along the drainage that runs from Spirit Nest down toward the low end of the Adventure Play Zone. The rocks accentuate the water course running through the project. One of them, with a natural curvature that makes a nice seat, was selected for a future wheelchair pad that will be located directly in the stream course. We hope to add grab bars to that stone so that children using wheelchairs can transition out of their chair to sit on a fossil filled rock. Three of the rocks create a natural stone table. And other rocks create the bones of a future wetland area complete with a bridge stone over the water channel.
The 19th stone which is more than 25 tons in weight and 26 feet in length was erected vertically at the entrance to Guerrilla Hollow along the main loop road. Bernheim’s operation team prepared a hole deep enough to bury that stone 1/3 into the ground. It now rises 16 feet into the air to create a beautiful new feature at Bernheim. It’s situated so that you can take photos of it that make that stone look like it is growing. So come on out and scramble around on rocks. You know you want to.
Now – if the kids don’t stick em in their pockets and carry them off for their rock collections. We guess if they do – we aren’t going to confront them.
Our sincere thanks to Kevin and Brandi Hodges for donating the stone, to Padgett Inc. for helping us with the big job of moving heavy stone, and to the James Graham Brown Foundation for the funding to make this big gesture in Playcosystem possible.