Defaced monument cleaned up

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WEST CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — Graffiti on a memorial at the summit of Wantastiquet Mountain with hateful messages toward police, the country and a local business irked one local resident so much she climbed to the top to scrub it off.

"It's one of my favorite places in the whole world and I refuse to let anyone destroy it," said Rachael Morse, of Brattleboro. "Don't mess with my mountain."

The words "kill cops" were spray painted on top of the memorial dedicated to Walter H. Childs, who observed weather patterns on the mountain in the late 1800s. Another message read "ACAB," which Morse said stands for "all cops are bastards."

One of the first things Morse scrubbed out Saturday was an anarchy symbol sprayed over Childs' name. Other graffiti contained the four-letter expletive starting with the letter "F" before the words "USA" and "the Bratt Food Co-op."

Some local residents have questioned whether the same person is responsible for burning flags at the Kyle Gilbert Memorial Bridge near the Brattleboro Food

Co-op downtown.

"We have no information connecting the vandalism done at the top of Wantastiquet mountain to the vandalism done in Brattleboro on July 4," Brattleboro Police Capt. Mark Carignan said in an email. "However, BPD has been in communication with Hinsdale [Police Department] about that incident and we are sharing information."

Two officials at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said they had not received any information but recommended reaching out to the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, which could not be reached by press time.

Morse said she went up the mountain Saturday to clear the graffiti and again Monday. She received help from Chesterfield, N.H., residents. It takes her about 45 minutes to reach the more than 1,300-foot summit.

The graffiti came to Morse's attention via a Facebook post. She did not want families or children to see the message and what she said looked like blood dripping on the memorial. The color of the spray paint was red.

About five bottles of acetone nail polish remover were used in the first visit and acid wash diluted with water had been used during the second visit. Morse said no damage was done to the monument in the cleaning process.

"It's, for the most part, gone," she said of the graffiti, adding that one more washing would likely remove any hints of the spray paint.

Wantastiquet holds a special place in Morse's heart. She passes by it every day on her way to work at Main Street Hair Shop in Brattleboro and looks it at while at work as a hairstylist and the shop's manager.

While Morse frequently climbs the mountain, she said, she had only been up it once previously this year. She called it one of her "favorite places."

The approximately 3-to-4-foot-high, granite memorial was built for Childs by his friends in 1908. Childs helped in efforts that brought an 8-foot-high, 6-feet-wide meteorological station to Wantastiquet, according to a newspaper article from May 1886 posted on brattleborohistory.com.

Childs and several volunteers "put the house in position on the topmost point of the pinnacle, bolted it firmly to the solid rock, and made it ready for the instruments," the article says. "In the house will be placed a government thermometer and barometer, both self-registering. The anemometer will be removed from [another person's] house on the hill to the mountain and a wire will be run down to the village to register the wind velocity at Mr. Child's house. This bit of enterprise has set some of our townspeople to talking about making a carriage road to the top of the mountain — a thing which could easily be done by utilizing old disused carriage and wood roads."

The road was later built, according to another newspaper article.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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