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Traveling over old byways or walking along those no longer passable fascinates me.  Often in these travels, we come across abandoned home sites and foundations, as well as stone walls.  Most of these abandoned towns in New England consist of fallen foundations, steps leading to doorways that no longer exist, old barns and sheds, lilac bushes, rose bushes and apple trees. Perhaps you'll find the remnants of a church or town meeting hall.  

Sometimes these towns have been reconstructed so that you can see more readily how people of "long ago"  lived.  There even may be reenactors who show you about the work in field, farm, home and town.  
My parents enjoyed stopping at these locations when they traveled with us children, and I recall places such as Plymouth Rock (MA), Jamestown and Williamsburg (VA) which enlightened my history of our country.
Descriptions and lists of some of the so called "ghost towns" of New Hampshire are found here at White Mountain History:                                                                      .

Old Stone Walls

Old stone wall criss-cross the fields and even are found in woodlands.  These areas once were cleared and used for pasture.  So many of our fields were laden with rocks that the early farmers needed to remove these hard objects in order to plow and plant.  

Sometimes they piled them in a corner of the field.  Then they found stones made excellent material for fences to keep cattle and sheep confined.  Even the town pounds, where stray animals were retained, often were ringed with stone walls.
At a lecture on the history of sheep farming in New Hampshire, my husband and I learned about the need for fencing and the role stone walls played here to keep the animals within the desired boundaries.
In eastern New York State, where I grew up, many of the farms contained stone walls, remnants from the past.  Also, farmers continued to collect rocks.  My father had a "stone boat," a flat wooden platform he dragged behind the tractor.  On this we children placed stones as he pulled the "boat" along the field.  These we piled in a corner of one field and used as needed to mend stone fences of the past.
On my grandparents Trails End Farm, the stone structures between pastures fascinated me.  These walls, or fences, also lined both sides of the long laneway leading to their place, which was some distance from the main road.
Near my present New Hampshire home, I find stone walls still standing along the back roads and streaking throughout the woodlands where they once marked pasture and farm boundaries.

History of Stone Walls

In this article, "The Geology of Colonial New England Stone Walls," ( ), by Corey Schweizer, you'll find very detailed information of the origin, purpose, and beauty of these structures.  Another writer Robert Thorson has studied stone walls and recorded this information. (  Often they're referred to as archaeological treasures by those who enjoy stone walls of the past.
(c)2016 Mary Emma Allen
(Mary Emma Allen writes for newspapers and web sites.  She's also the author of several books. Currently she's compiling a book of her sister's poetry and paintings.  E-mail:






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