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Stone Walls of New England (and Mystic)

According to “Stone by Stone” a fascinating study by Robert Thorson, over 250,000 miles of stone walls have been built over the centuries in the six New England States.  To give that number meaning, that enough stone wall to go around the earth 10 times.  If you live in a New England town, stone walls are so pervasive, we almost stop noticing how unique, beautiful and interesting they are.  They’re everywhere — especially if you like to walk in the woods.  I tell out of state visitors “….if you pull over on a side road anywhere in New England and take hike, you are very likely to see a criss-cross network of walls deep in the forest….”.    Visitors might wonder:

Why would early Americans build so many stone walls in the middle of the woods?

They didn’t.  In colonial times, the land was completely cleared of trees, the stones were removed and used to create property boundaries or hold in livestock.  Eventually, as the country grew, subsistence farms were abandoned and over the last few centuries, the forest grew back —– the walls remained.  They’ve lasted extraordinarily well
considering they were constructed with no mortar or cement, just simply ‘stacked’ or ‘thrown’ in a special manner.  Mystic Revealed tours wind through the town’s Historic District where many original stone walls still exist.  They continue to give a quintessentially New England feel to hundreds of small towns like Mystic.

 

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