Hacker’s Hill memorial remains for the living

NW dd43 PHOTO hackers hill memorial ENTIRE VIEW OFBy Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO – A memorial, which for more than a decade provided a place for people to honor their loved ones who have died, rests on Hacker’s Hill.

It has been moved off the parcel maintained by Loon Echo Land Trust to another spot on private land. It is not hard to find.

“So many people are attracted to this memorial. Every time, I come up here, I see someone go to this spot. Sometimes, they sit here for long periods of time — just reflecting,” said Don Fowler, the longtime caretaker of the land.

Fowler said he had always thought that the space — the little peninsula of flat land on the east side of Hacker’s Hill — had great potential to be a resting spot for visitors to the mountain.

On Monday, as Fowler stood in the afternoon sun with his black Labrador, Hal, a group of four people wandered his way. A man in the group asked about the statue, recalling that at one time it had been higher up the hill. The man paused as though re-examining his own memory and then commenting that perhaps it was a different statue.

“It’s the same statue,” Fowler said.

Not only did Fowler relocate the statue, but he also built a four-post pavilion. The structure has a pitched roof with heavy-duty corrugated roofing — some of which is clear to allow the sun to shine onto the woodcarving. The only work that is left before winter hits is applying sealant to the wood, Fowler said.

All the trinkets and objects that people left to remember departed loved ones were moved along with the statue. Since that time, citizens have placed many more items at the feet of the statue.

An inviting picnic table sits behind the memorial.

The statue, a handmade wooden carving, represents Jesus Christ saying that the greatest being is like a child with a humbled outlook toward God, Fowler said.

Another addition is three wooden crosses, which represent when Jesus Christ was crucified with the two thieves, Fowler said.

Also, stones are stacked into the shape of a well for drawing water. This symbolizes Jacob’s well in the Bible, he said.

“I had just the right number of rocks to finish it,” he said.

This new well is not operable, and the original one remains on the 20-acre tract that has been purchased and set aside for public access.

Fowler said that the members of Loon Echo have been great to work with.

The move of the memorial was necessitated because that state of Maine, specifically the agency Land for Maine’s Future, dedicated funds toward the purchase of Hacker’s Hill. Federal law requires that state and religion be separate; therefore, state money could not be allocated if the religious artifacts remained.

“You don’t worship these representations. You learn from them,” Fowler said.

When people feel lost or are grieving the loss of a loved one, they need a place to go, he said.

“The idea is that they find God, find the true way, before they are the ones buried in the ground,” he said.

“This place offers that chance to people,” he said.

He commented that in all his travels, few places are as spiritually moving as the view from Hacker’s Hill.

“The hand of God made all of this,” he said.

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