28-Jul-2010 -- As we were en route to join our colleagues in teaching a week-long Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and GPS course for the West Virginia K-12 community, it seemed only fitting to insert a confluence visit. We began the day successfully navigating out of the labyrinth of New York City, and after a visit to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, by early afternoon were west of Harrisburg in the lovely ridges and valleys of Pennsylvania. Thus, we found ourselves exiting I-76 at US Highway 522, where we spotted a town named "Burnt Cabins" on the map but alas, no sign at the exit to indicate this wonderful place name. Immediately we discovered the best thing that would be the case about this confluence: The beautiful terrain.
The route wound us south on Great Cover Road, west on Breezy Point Road, then south on Peach Orchard Road, over ridges and down through hollows, some tilled with crops and others left standing as forests. We passed a pen of goats on the left with a driveway to the east and went down another valley, past a house on the left to the top of the next ridge, where we pulled over with some difficulty to survey the landscape. We then determined that the driveway with the goats would lead not to the closest house to the confluence, but would lead to the house where the landowner lived. The house to the south was closer, but it would require traversing the creek, and besides, we wanted to talk with the landowner first. We therefore drove to the driveway, parked out of the way so as not to block it, had a chat with the goats, gathered supplies, and set off walking east down the lane.
After a few minutes walking down this lovely lane, we spotted the house, which looked new and quite nice, along with a dog. The dog came bounding toward us but we tried to reassure it that we were geographers and thus meant no harm. Fortunately, it was not large and did not come too close. Before we reached the front door, we saw the landowner walking down the road from the north to greet us. After less than a minute, he knew why we were there, directing us to the spot, telling us that he had de-electrified the fence, and wishing us well. It once again reaffirmed what I have written on other confluence pages--my faith in the goodness of people. The landowner was very good natured and we appreciated his permission to find the confluence point.
Upon securing permission, we began our journey to the east--down the hill, under a few fences, and up the next hill to the field containing the Goal. The hills were covered in many kinds of thorny plants for grazing and were crisscrossed by fences. We crawled under the first of these electric fences and found ourselves in a pen among a herd of dark brown cows numbering about thirty. As we made the last stretch up the hill, the cows began to follow us. We crawled under another fence and now were within meters of the point. The confluence was reached over the crest of this rise, nearly to the end of the field. We reached it at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time and the temperature was a warm 95 degrees F (35 C).
The spot afforded beautiful views on all sides, especially to the east, featuring a gap in the hills, and south, with the valley before us and a ridge beyond. We only spent about ten minutes on the site to minimize inconveniencing the landowner. It would appear that this point is visited every 5 years. I had stood on 40 North quite a few times from New Jersey west to California, and also 78 West several times in several states, from New York to North Carolina. I had not visited a confluence point in Pennsylvania in a few years, so it was good to return. It was Emily's first confluence visit in awhile, and I wondered if she was secretly thrilled.
As we walked back, we heard the landowner calling from the backyard of his house, offering helpful hints about how to cross the fences and was awaiting our arrival when we descended the hill to join him. He invited us to stay, have a beverage, and chat but we had a long way yet to drive that day. Therefore, after thanking him, we bid the landowner, cows, and goats farewell. We returned to the vehicle and realized how hot it had been, and how we were now quite itchy from sliding under the fences. I do not know what we brushed up against, but we were a bit covered in a rash for a few hours. Once again, one has to have high respect for these landowners who work everyday under the hot sun.
Now we drove south amid beautiful views on the road south to McConnellsburg. There, we bought some water and continued south through more wonderful terrain to I-70, crossing into Maryland, and then still more beauty awaited us along I-68 into the setting sun and into West Virginia. The confluence trek was indeed a fitting beginning to the GIS institute at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown.