My Dot on the Map: Stonewall Roads

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The title says that I’m going to feature several Stonewall Roads but there is really only one in Jackson (my dot on the map) and it is only about 2 or 3 miles long. I added the “s” because there are so many country roads in my neighborhood that have stone walls along the edge. People are now having stone walls built as a part of their landscaping but originally it was functional. This is farming country and I have heard it said by farmers that what grows really well out of the soil are stones – big stones. Farmers break plows on big stones. They have to bring in big equipment to dig out the big stones. And they dispose of them by dumping them on the edges of the field.

My spring garden.

My spring garden.

I wanted dry stone retaining walls to address the steep slope of our front yard and to create flower beds. We got our stones from our nephew who has a business digging up stones, sorting them and selling everything from soil to gravel to big stones. I told Jerry that we would hire him to do the excavating work on our house if he would teach me how to use the big shovel. That’s me in the pink shirt driving the shovel – and that is Jerry perched in the door telling me what to do. Hubby’s brother owned an excavating company and it had been my dream for a very long time to operate a big piece of equipment.

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This is Jerry’s gravel yard, not my basement.

In England and Ireland the farmers used the stones from their fields to build stone walls to keep livestock in. They also use hedge rows of shrubs.

Irish dry stone fence.

Irish dry stone fence.

 

In my neck of the woods (and Michigan used to be primarily wooded land) farmers use trees to line their fields.

Corn field lined with trees.

Corn field lined with trees.

Have you noticed that how people live is functional? Clearing fields of trees was very difficult work – especially pulling up those stumps so the ground could be plowed. I’m sure that when they got to the edge of their property, they were all too happy to leave a row of trees standing to mark the boundary. Β Trees don’t make good livestock fences, however, so wire fences are erected where animals graze.

Back to stone walls along roads and Stonewall Road. I was out the other morning exploring a couple of dirt roads not far from my house and stopped for this stone fence with the spirea bush flowing over. Many of the stone walls are built like this – stones piled up in a row.

stone wall 211The stone walls along both sides of Stonewall Road are different. They appear to have been built by master stone masons and have stood the test of time, being a part of the landscape for as long as I can remember. I wonder what came first, the stone walls or the road named Stonewall Road. It isn’t just one stone wall, it is many walls along the length. Maybe it should have been named Stonewalls Road. On the other side of these 4-foot stone walls are large homes, some old and some new.

These stones were cut and fitted together.

These stones were cut and fitted together.

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This part of the wall along Stonewall Road was made with smaller stones and a portion needs some repair. Tau is coming next week to make some repairs on my stone walls.

The end of a wall allowing for a side road.

The end of a wall allowing for Probert Road to cross.

The stone wall in front of Ella Sharp's home which is now a museum.

The stone wall in front of Ella Sharp’s farm house which is now a museum.

In a previous post, I said that the Hidden Lake Gardens is in the Irish Hills which is the area where the glacier stopped and dropped lots of nature’s debris. My neighborhood is at the northern edge of this area so the farms around us have produced lots of stones and people have found ways to use these stones. I’ll be doing a post within the next week or so with, of course, some photographs of more glacial stones.

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16 Comments »

  1. Great post! Love your garden, gives it a look of permanence and like it was always there. Also love the stone walls. Always thought I would love a porch built with stones:-)

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    • Well, stay tuned because I have several photos of stone things. Thanks for the compliment on my garden. I’ll have to post my summer garden in a month or so.

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  2. I was stone crazy after reading and viewing this post. It’s a stone wall haven/heaven where you live. Truly beautiful. Your front yard looks lovely with the addition of stone. I am quite envious. πŸ™‚ Large stones are expensive where I live. About 30 miles to the west of my home, stone can be found out in the ranching areas.

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    • Thanks for the great comment. I have heard that people pay really big money for stones in Ann Arbor – just 35 miles down the road from us.

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  3. Your front garden looks good…and interesting about the walls. On one image you’ve said that they were cut to shape. Here in England (and Wales for that matter) dry stone walls were built without cutting the stones – a skilled waller would select stones with appropriate sizes and shapes to fit them together and build the wall, and they would last for a very long time. No mortar used.

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    • Your dry stone walls have always intrigued me but I wasn’t able to get pictures when I was there. Thanks for the interesting comment.

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  4. Great post Pat . Hey look @ you there in the digger πŸ™‚
    Pretty fresh looking Spring garden you have .. yes would love to see Summer version too .
    Here where I live they have quarried the Hills in past times and there are many houses and walls around here made from these rocks . The oldest geological kind in the UK Pre Cambrian 680 million yrs old !
    Look forward to some more of your glacial specimens ….

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  5. The stone retaining wall looks lovely Pat. I would probably shower myself with all that dirt if I attempted operating that digger πŸ˜€

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    • I soon appreciated the huge amount of dirt I could move and when I had to bring the shovel up, I feared it would land in my lap and bury me. That was why Jerry was right there with me. πŸ™‚ But it was great fun.

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