On a hazy Thursday morning at Shy's Hill in Nashville -- ugh, Oregon wildfires -- I did what comes naturally for me: Watch other people work. Military science professor Brandon Hulette, research analyst Natalie Robbins, geospatial data and systems librarian Stacy Curry-Johnson, and students Jordan Rhym and Alyssa Bolster -- all from Vanderbilt University -- manuevered a $13,000 ground-penetrating radar machine over four sites on the hallowed ground south of downtown. Robbins calls her team "spatial specialists," which sort of makes my head spin.
|The ground-penetrating radar provides an "image" of |
the subsurface like this one, held by Vanderbilt
research analyst Natalie Robbins.
Much of Shy's Hill was carved up more than 60 years ago by residential developers -- the very top of the hill was sliced off in the 1950s for a water tank, making it nine or 10 feet shorter than in 1864. This opening sentence from a feature story in a 1959 edition of the Nashville Tennessean makes my heart hurt: "Today Shy's Hill has been stormed, captured and occupied by building contractors and home owners. A phalanx of bulldozers led the way, and handsome brick houses now line the streets which circle the knob, halfway to the crest."
A small section of the hill -- the extreme left of the Confederates' line on Day 2 of the battle -- is preserved and maintained by the Battle of Nashville Trust. (Full disclosure: I am a board member.) The next time you're in Nashville, put it on your must-see list, because it's worth the hike up the steep, rugged trail to the top.
In the video below, Hulette explains the team's Shy's Hill mission:
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- Nashville Tennesseean, Dec. 13, 1959.