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Friday, March 6, 2015

EARLY KENTUCKY STACKED ROCK FENCES 1700s to 1800s


As some of you might recall I lived in Kentucky for several years before moving to Oregon. One of my favorite folk representations of Kentucky were their many rock fences.

Above and below are a small collection of photos showing the variety of rock fencing to be found on Kentucky's rural landscapes. 






Hope you enjoyed these fences. There is some concern that someday there will only be a few left due to neglect and/or encroachment of developers. 

22 comments:

  1. I do so love rock walls. They are warm, interesting and represent some good hard work. I love the rock walls in Ireland.

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    1. Tabor -- I have never been to Ireland but a friend has and she showed me photos of Irish houses and rock walls -- very impressive they were. Like you I love rock fences and walls. thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  2. Great photos of rock walls. They are beautiful structures. I especially like those with no mortar.

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    1. The rock walls that interested me were the early dry stacked ones. Although those that used mortar were also artistically beautiful. Will we ever have such craftsmanship in large numbers as we once did? -- thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  3. I have a friend who makes, and teaches the skill, dry stone walls, which have no mortar. They are like some of the ones you show above, and it probably takes a lot longer to fit together than when a bit of mortar can help...but the result is a gorgeous construction. The one with all the vertical stones tilted on the top is most interesting to me!

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    1. Barbara -- may I recommend a book for your friend -- Rock Fences of the Bluegrass by Wooley. Although it covers KY it is a great research book for those that are interested in the development of stacked dry fences. To think that many of these fences have lasted since the late 1700s is quite an accomplishment for those that initially constructed them. -- thanks for your comment -- barbara

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  4. I should take some photos of our black lava rock walls.

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    1. Hattie -- Love to see those black lava rock walls on one of your posts! thanks -- barbara

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  5. These walls represent so much investment, labor, upkeep. Are they on still working farm land?

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    1. Joanne -- Some were, most were not. Tobacco was a main crops in KY until recently when some political maneuvering allowed Govt to buy out the farmer's crop land -- crop being tobacco. This left the land to go fallow when I was there but there was talk to grow some new agricultural products on these fields. The whole debacle was rather confusing and it seemed that big business was the winner on this land grab. I rather liked the empty fields myself -- with the weeds waving in the wind. thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  6. Great photos Barbara. In Kansas we have native stone fencing and buildings. Most old schools, homes were built out of native stone. They're still standing...

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    1. turquoisemoob -- would love to get a look at them. Perhaps you have posted some in the past? I think old stone buildings are great. My native state of Michigan has some lovely vernacular stone homes built by immigrants years ago and are mostly found in a wide swath of land across mid-state Michigan. If I ever get to Kansas again I will keep an eye out for your stone homes and fences. Thanks -- barbara

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  7. These rock walls are a favorite of mine. We have several here in my county.

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    1. Michelle -- Being that you are from Kentucky means you are exposed to these beautiful dry rock fences on a regular basis. I can understand why these are favorites of yours. thanks -- barbara

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  8. Love the new header photo! These stone walls remind me of the limestone industry near Bloomington, Indiana where I went to school. Much of the center of the US lies atop quantities of limestone -- I don't know enough to say what kind of stone those walls are but they are very serious looking walls.

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    1. Stone walls can be found in varying degrees wherever natural rocks can be found. In KY the old fences in the blue grass area are profound. They can twist and turn to follow the lay of the land. If you have ever been to Shaker Town you will see an an abundance of these old fences. Each stone maker had his own way of design. -- thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  9. Beautiful photos, Barbara. I had thought that rock fences like these were to be found primarily in New England, and it's a lovely surprise to see them in Kentucky. I would imagine these thousands of rocks were uncovered while someone was trying to plow a field or something like. Here we don't have 'walls' as such, but the fields that were cultivated are ringed with piles of rocks.

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    1. Starr White -- I think New England has a good share of them. In KY you would be fascinated to see them along the road in all kinds of conditions. As I understand from my readings the rocks were brought from a quarry to the fence site while it was being built. One person would sort the rocks and another would lay them (probably the stonemason). Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  10. These were just great! The stones that have been used seems to be fairly flat (slate?) which of course makes it easier to build them. I suppose that many of the stones were found when one cleared the areas for agriculture, at least that was common practice around here. I see that at least one is in need of maintenance - so also here.

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    1. visualnorway -- From my research these early fences were built with rough quarried stone. Many of the large plantations in central KY had small (and large) quarries where both Black and Irish worked to upload stone onto horse drawn wagons to take out to the building sites. Many of these beautiful fences are now in decline, not all but quite a few. Sporadic workshops are offered around KY to teach the principles of building these fences. They really are lovely on the landscapes. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  11. I came over to catch up on your blog and this post stopped me like a stone wall. Eye candy for sure.

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    1. Raining Iguana -- I need to catch up with a few blogs too. I moved here 5 weeks ago and am still not settled. When I lived in KY I always admired the workmanship that went into building these fences -- mostly in the 1800s it appears. thanks -- barbara

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