When leaving Adamsville heading south toward Westport, MA, on Old Harbor Road, you will come to a fork.
No kidding, a legitimate, roughly 12-foot-tall fork that sits at the intersection of Old Harbor and River roads. If you happen to see this fork during a holiday, it could be dressed in a red Christmas hat fitted on one of its prongs or shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.
A little over a year ago, a retired Westport resident thought what drivers’ reactions would be if they drove by and saw a large fork where the roads split. The rest is history. Some Little Compton residents have spent some months pondering how the fork got there.
Bill Monahan, of Little Compton, said his is the last house on Old River Road within Little Compton's town border. His front yard is technically in Westport. The fork is across the street from his house.
“I have cars that stop constantly to take photos of it,” he said. “Everyone decorates it on certain holidays.”
The creator, Tom Schmitt of the Acoaxet area of Westport, said he was in Dartmouth last summer picking lumber and noticed a fairly large pine tree. The fork immediately came to mind; he took measurements and ratios to make sure it was appropriate for the handle he imagined.
“I took two pieces of pine and planed them and put them at angle that would be suitable for the fork, and epoxied them,” said the retired college teacher when reached last week by phone.
Using his chain saw to cut it out and a planer to shape it, Schmitt said he was able to sand it, use a gray Shellac sealant and spray it with chrome paint so it resembled a metal fork.
The fork was originally installed on Memorial Day weekend of 2010 and it attracted immediate attention. Then somebody came by and stole it. Schmitt said he and his friends at the harbor in Westport were able to track down the missing fork and “re-appropriate” it. After that, Schmitt said he put the large fork up for auction with the Westport River Watershed Alliance. However, a group of people at the auction wanted to buy it and have the fork permanently reinstalled at the intersection.
Instead of going to the town, Schmitt went to Westport resident Eric Pauls, who owns the land at the intersection, and received permission to install the fork there.
“It’s very entertaining and comforting to see people stop,” said Pauls at his house last week. “It reminds me of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”
This time Schmitt dug a fairly deep hole in the ground and got a piece of steam pipe and welded three U-bolts on it. He then attached the fork to the U-bolts and sealed them so it was permanently attached.
For extra surety, Schmitt took a piece of 16-foot-long steel, put it about six feet in the ground and filled it with rocks and concrete. There is about two feet of space between the ground level to the fork. He said it is about 12 feet tall and the structure weighs a couple hundred pounds, although the fork weighs about 50 pounds.
Since then it has been decorated during the holidays and people continue to stop and gawk at the fork in the road.
“People seem to enjoy it being a landmark in the community,” Schmitt said, adding that one time in the past year, someone put a white garden hose through the prongs to make it look like spaghetti.