October 2004 Cranberry Country:

I am a bit of a railfan.  I sometimes joke that when I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a railroad engineer.  Yet, when I got my engineering degree, I was surprised and more than a little disappointed that I didn't get to work on trains.

Anyway, I've wanted to visit the local Edaville Railroad for a long time.  And as a bonus, I got a taste of cranberry country while I was there.

Well, it turns out that Edaville is geared to kids.  What's that you say?  Yeah, I know, I'm still a kid.  I mean it is geared toward little kids...  Holiday decorations and stuff for the kids riding around on the train with their parents.  So, I felt more than a little out of place there.  But it was still interesting to learn more about cranberries.

One of only a handful of native fruits, the Pilgrims called it the "craneberry" because the blossoms reminded them of the head and bill of the Sandhill crane.

In my travels, I've seen crops like corn, soybeans, sunflowers, corn, rice, strawberries, beans, grapes, corn, olives, peaches, apples, corn, wheat, cabbage, corn, tobacco, corn and... more corn.  Yet cranberries are special - kinda rare and different.

New England is not well suited to growing most conventional crops, but the cranberry is unusual in that it thrives in the wet sand and peat found in southeastern Massachusetts.  The cranberries grow on the vine, and are harvested by flooding the fields (bogs) and threshing the berries loose with a mechanized harvester.  They are then packaged up and shipped to consumers throughout North America, who then make cranberry sauce once a year.  And they only eat it 'cause it's got so much sugar in it...

Personally, I prefer to make cranberry sauce with as much apple as cranberries.  Kinda dilutes the tartness of the berries enough to be more palatable, and reduces the need for sugar.  I also like to add strawberries, even if that is less than traditional.

Anyway, back to Edaville...  On my train ride with the kiddies, I spotted a fox, a crane, and then a hawk.  And following the birds skyward, I also saw a helicopter.  Screw the kiddie rides!  I wanted to go on this one!

So, I bought my ticket and went on my first helicopter ride, getting a front-seat view of cranberry country from the air.  It was a short but sweet (and loud) ride, and I liked it a lot.  I can see why Charles (currently working on copters in Afghanistan) would want to fly...

Enough writing.  My attention span has expired.  Here are my pics.  Hope you enjoy.

~ Lee

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- Edaville Railroad
- Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association

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This page was last updated Wednesday November 15, 2006
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