New Hampshire stone wall installers are as natural to New England as you can get. It is a testimonial of “Yankee ingenuity”- for the industrious to take something as burdensome as stone in the field and turn it into a legacy of beauty and distinction.
The history of New Hampshire stone walls is fascinating. There are over 250,000 miles of natural stone walls in New England alone.* Stretched out end to end, that’s enough to wrap around the earth 10 times – or go to the moon, if you prefer! As amazing as that is, the real kicker is that all of this stone wall building happened in a 30 year window – between 1810 and 1840.
In the 1700’s, field boundaries were marked with hedgerows of stumps and brush that were the result of clearing the land for farming. A “farming frenzy,” you might say. It is estimated that in 1830, over 80% of New Hampshire was clear-cut. As a result, erosion created the “New England potato” – stones that seem to appear out of nowhere from the ground. New England farmers (being ever so resourceful) replaced the rotting brush hedgerows with fieldstone walls using the stone from the ground.
Stone wall building virtually stopped – along with New Hampshire agriculture – due to the westward expansion. Crop-based agriculture was replaced largely by livestock and dairy farms. The Civil War took its toll on young men, and the labor shortage made stone wall building impractical for the farmer. In 1870, barbed wire was invented. Post and barbed wire fences replaced the stone wall as the fencing of choice containing livestock. This is why when you see an old stone wall in the woods today; you will often see barbed wire running right through it.
Although the days of farm and field in New Hampshire has all but vanished since the turn of the early 1900’s, the appreciation of stone never has vanished. Landscape walls built with stone have the appearance of antiquity and permanence from the very first day the stone mason puts them in.
The lost art of stone wall building is not lost here at Rye Beach Landscaping! The stone masons at Rye Beach Landscaping are expert stone wall builders. We can build a dry stacked fieldstone wall, quarried granite, or natural stone veneer. It can be a retaining wall or a freestanding wall that is viewed from all sides. Our landscape designer can incorporate it into your landscaping with grasses, perennials and native shrubs, to create the perfect garden environment for you.
We take our New Hampshire stone heritage very seriously. As with our antique granite collection, we are always on the lookout for old fieldstone to rescue and relocate; to live on in a new stone wall somewhere else for another 200 years.
*United States Department of Agriculture; page 497, Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, 1872