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Walden Pond, where Thoreau lived simply, goes solar

Walden Pond, considered the birthplace of the environmental movement, will have a new visitor center, powered by solar energy, that includes a charging station for electric cars.

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    The simple, serene place that inspired Henry David Thoreau's work the most is going solar. Officials are building a new visitor's center at Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, Mass., featuring a solar canopy and two electric vehicle charging stations.
    Steven Senne/AP/File
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Henry David Thoreau famously wrote of "the sunshine of a winter's day," and now the simple place that inspired him the most is going solar.

Officials are breaking ground on a new visitor center at Walden Pond State Reservation in Concord, Mass., and the $8 million complex will feature two decidedly high-tech touches: a solar canopy and a pair of electric vehicle charging stations.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick says it's fitting that the new center in Concord will be built with energy-efficient materials and powered by green technology.

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"As the birthplace of the conservation movement, Walden Pond is an important natural landmark for the Commonwealth and nation," Patrick said Dec.8. "These improvements are about good stewardship for this generation and the next."

In 1845, Thoreau withdrew to a cabin near the pond for two years, two months, and two days, and it was the inspiration for "Walden," published in 1854.

"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life," he wrote.

More than a century and a half later, visitors to the site will enjoy far less-Spartan facilities.

Those who drive electric cars will have a place to recharge them, and a 100-kilowatt solar photovoltaic parking lot canopy will power the new center as well as the rest of the park.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation said it obtained $180,000 in grants to help make the improvements.

Would Thoreau approve of the solar upgrade? It's impossible to say, but his 1843 essay, "A Winter Walk," suggests he would.

"When we feel his beams on our backs as we are treading some snowy dell, we are grateful as for a special kindness, and bless the sun which has followed us into that by-place," he wrote.

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