Cheshire Unveils New Monument to the 'Big Cheese'
CHESHIRE, Mass. — There's no mistaking that Cheshire's the big cheese.
A replica of the giant wheel of cheese made by Cheshire residents in the early 1800s was unveiled by the Cheshire Community Association on Tuesday beside the Ashuwilticook Rail Trail.
The front of the sculpture contains information on the original cheese wheel, including its weight and the date it was presented to President Thomas Jefferson (Jan. 1, 1802). On the back, the wheel reads, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."
In fact, Tremblay reported that Jefferson received every single vote but one in Cheshire. That vote, apparently, was seen as a mistake, and thus cast aside in the final tally.
The original block of cheese was so large that it took over a month to get to Washington, D.C. Emery said this event was the one for which Cheshire is most famous. Indeed, the subtitle of Emery's book on the subject is "When America Watched Cheshire." Jefferson reportedly paid $200 for the block of cheese, refusing to accept it as a gift. Emery reported that Jefferson recorded the transaction in his personal account book.
Tremblay said the project was "in honor of our forefathers," specifically Jefferson and Leland, who has a memorial next to a replica of the cheese press (with Leland's image) not far from the new cheese sculpture.
Local artist Brent Whitney created the sculpture. It took about eight months, on and off, to create. Tremblay applauded Whitney for his effort, saying he has a "similar passion that our forefathers had."
The cheese wheel is part of the Art on the Trail initiative, a set of sculptures set off the side of the rail trail on Church Street in Cheshire. It was funded by a Mass Cultural Council grant, part of an effort to increase art displays throughout the state. The other sculptures are silhouettes of a hiker, a biker, and a runner, which represents the convergence of the rail trail with the Appalachian Trail.
Tremblay talked up this latter point, saying this "convergence" of the Appalachian Trail and the rail trail could provide some "energy" for Cheshire. He said this display of art, along with the Appalachian Trail camp across the street, could serve as a "catalyst for economic development" for the downtown area.
Tags: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, cheshire cheese,