Community rebuilds stone cairns knocked down by local resident
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | July 19,2013
CHRISTIAN AVARD / STAFF PHOTO
Ron Johnson of the Winhall Market spent his Thursday afternoon rebuilding the stone cairns built by a local resident.
RAWSONVILLE — Residents in Bondville, Stratton, Winhall, Rawsonville and other nearby communities are rallying to help a local man rebuild hundreds of stone cairns that were built in remembrance of his dog.
People will be gathering at 9 a.m. Saturday on Route 30 in Rawsonville to help Grant, 25, a local resident known by his first name who built the cairns on the Winhall River. The cairns were knocked down in the last few days by a local man who said they were a dangerous distraction for passing drivers.
Peter Engelhardt of Rawsonville lives not far from where Grant’s cairns were placed. He said people all over the area heard what happened and are “very upset.”
Many people from all over the area and beyond would stop along Route 30 and admire the work by Grant. Engelhardt was also upset and plans to take part in Saturday’s rebuilding efforts.
“Those monuments meant a lot to everyone,” Engelhardt said. “They brought a lot of joy to many people. Grant is a true artist and it was an amazing public art display.”
Abby Raeder, vice president of the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts, had spotted the stone cairns while traveling on Route 30 and was astonished by what she saw.
She wrote about Grant’s creations in her blog on the VTica website and said the blog post received 100 unique hits every six hours and was picked up by Yahoo! News. According to Raeder, Grant has made trips to the Winhall River ever since his bull mastiff dog, “General,” died almost three months ago. Grant built the cairns as a way of coping with his loss. Raeder was touched.
“They were just all architecturally and beautifully designed,” Raeder said. “The fact that one person did this is amazing to me.”
Joe Checco of Rawsonville was also in awe of Grant’s stone creations and was saddened to hear they were destroyed.
“I can’t tell you how many cars stopped by. People took pictures. It was a real attraction,” Checco said.
The cairns were the topic of discussion at the Winhall Market. Customers and employees equally expressed shock over what happened.
Ron Johnson, a Winhall Market employee, finished work early Thursday and went straight to the site where the cairns once stood. The cairns, he said, were “zen-like” and brought peace to many people.
“It just made so many people happy,” Johnson said. “Everybody is angry and upset that something went down.”
Peter Salo of Bondville told the Rutland Herald he destroyed most of the cairns.
“If you’re asking if I knocked the rocks down, I did,” Salo said in a phone interview. “I didn’t knock them all down. I left some up for the guy that had a dog die a couple months ago.”
According to Salo, the Winhall River was “perfect” before they were built. He said the cairns posed a major hazard and have the potential to get worse.
Salo said his actions were for the safety of all Route 30 travelers.
“If they see them, they lock their brakes up immediately,” Salo said. “They don’t care what was behind them. It’s Route 30. It’s a truck route.”
Although Salo believes he took the cairns down for a good reason, people are still rallying behind Grant to restore the cairns.
“Grant is heartbroken. He has touched so many people, I cannot tell you,” Raeder said.
Attempts to reach Grant were unsuccessful and family members and friends requested his last name not be used.