Popular swing returns

by Jeremy Skog | 6/25/01 5:00am

A winding forest trail begins at the corner of Downing Road and Maple Street. For students adventurous enough to walk through residential Hanover and a quarter mile to the slow-moving Connecticut River, a recently restored piece of local history awaits -- the famous rope swing has been restored.

Five wooden steps lead up the side of a heavily angled tree where the jumper first grasps the new rope and then clutches it as he swings over the water. At the apex of his swing he lets go and tumbles perhaps ten feet into the cool water below. The short swim back involves grabbing a trailing string so that the rope can be pulled back to shore for waiting jumpers.

Last summer, the town of Hanover had decided to take down the rope in response to neighborhood concerns, creating widespread student disappointment.

The decision, spurred by complaints from neighbors sick of being woken up at night and safety concerns on the part of local police, stirred up a campus controversy that played out during the dog days of July as the tree remained fenced off.

Concluding much heated debate by community members and alumni, the town removed the rope but left the tree standing.

Yet according to Katherine MacLean '03, by senior week this year the rope swing was already restored and in full use by students such as herself.

Many students describe some of their best College memories as having taken place under the swing's idyllic shade, whether on lazy Saturday afternoons or chilly March evenings. Alumni who became involved when the swing was taken down described how the swing was an important part of their own sophomore summer.

Despite its importance for some, involvement with the rope swing varies widely among the campus population. Sydney Lu '03, for example, despite hearing tales of its existence, has never visited the swing himself and was unaware of the controversy surrouding its removal last summer.

John Chang '03 similarly noted that he has yet to visit the swing, although he claims many of his friends already have.

For safety reasons the trail to the swing is closed from sunset until sunrise with violators subject to a $100 penalty. Still, some swingers admitted to going down after dark for a midnight dip.

At least for a while, the rope swing still hangs lazily over the Connecticut for the enjoyment of the whole community. And are students planning on using it? According to Maclean, "absolutely!"