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The Beaver Who Ate Steel
Joseph Matthew Jonas
Milestones Vol 13 No 4 Winter 1988

This essay can be catagorized somewhere between folklore and tall
tales. But certain statements are actually true.

Once upon a time - a long time ago - there was a little river that drained into a big river. The banks of the little river were quiet and peaceful. Many animals lived there and they all loved their surroundings. It was especially nice for a pair of beavers. They lived near the east bank in a big lodge in the river. There was plenty of trees nearby that they cut down whenever they needed food. Any leftovers were put on the roof of their lodge for winter eating.

One year, in the spring, as the mother and father were taking care of their new litter they noticed that one little kit was very different. He was externally large, very brash and always hungry. It wasn't long before instead of waiting to be nursed he was out looking for solid food. Each night he wandered farther and farther away.

One morning he came home very excited and said to his mother and father "I went up this little river to Beaver Falls last night and I found something to eat that is much better than those scrawny little saplings. It's called steel!" His mother and father looked at him in amazement. They were shocked. They scolded him and forbade him to ever go back up the little river.

A few days later at the steel mill men in the storage yard had to get some steel to send to a customer. They went to a spot in the yard where their instructions said it had been stacked. But they could not find it. It was gone. One fellow who was a wag and liked to kid around said "Maybe the rats ate it." They all laughed. The boss said "The other shift probably moved it - or sent it to the wrong customer."

Some time later, after being away all night, the young beaver came home and said "No, I didn't go up the little river - Instead I went up the BIG river to Aliquippa. And guess what -I found more steel. There's enough there for many meals and what I ate was really delicious! "The steel he was eating was making him grow larger and larger and he was getting stronger and stronger. His parents were fearful of him. They did not know what to do. They begged "Please leave the steel alone. We forbid you to go up the big river any more."

A few days later he again disappeared. When he came home he was smirking. He was bigger and stronger than ever before. He said "This time I went DOWN the big river to Midland and guess what - large piles of steel were stacked all over a big field. It was really great! I had a gigantic meal." His mother began to sob. "Please, please do not - ever again - eat any more steel," she begged. "Look at yourself." He was huge.

But he continued to eat more and more steel. And he grew bigger and bigger and heavier and heavier. Finally he was so big and so heavy that he could not hide in the water and he could hardly move. But he continued to eat steel. And then one day it happened.

He came home after being out all night eating steel. He was weary and tired and just wanted to be with his family. He stood on the west bank looking at his home. It was just a tiny mound on the other side of the river. He wanted to crawl inside it to rest, but his body had become so large that when he tried just to lay down beside it he reached from bank to bank. So he lay there sobbing. After a while his body became rigid and he died.

This is a true story. If you don't believe it just go to Bridgewater where the River Regatta is held every year. Go out in a boat if you can, or sit in the grandstand or just walk along the river bank and look downstream toward the big river. You will see, stretched across the water, an enormous head, body and tail in the exact shape of a beaver.

It is used as a bridge now. But it is really the remains of the largest beaver that ever existed in the whole world.