January 27, 2019


There's a Crowdsourcing Effort to Map the Stone Walls of New Hampshire: Part of the goal is to inspire greater appreciation for these mossy structures. (JONATHAN CAREY, JANUARY 24, 2019, Atlas Obscura)

HAVE YOU EVER WALKED DOWN your local trail and stumbled upon a random stone wall that looks as if it grew from the ground itself? No doubt it was built by someone and is extremely old, but why was it built? Was it the boundary for livestock on an old homestead, or perhaps a line of defense? The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is trying to answer some of those questions for the state's mossy partitions.

New England is somewhat of a stone wall hotspot. Around 100,000 miles of walls dot the region's woodlands and countrysides. Most of these walls weren't built deliberately, but were instead a convenient way for farmers in previous centuries to discard plow-impeding rocks from their fields. In the years since, many of those stretches of farmland have become reforested.

To learn more about these structures, the DES launched a crowdsourced initiative to map every stone wall in the state, using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) mapping. LiDAR utilizes lasers to produce geological surveys showing land elevation.

Through an interactive interface known as the New Hampshire Stone Wall Mapper, interested parties can map the plethora of walls from the resulting aerial imagery.

It would be humbling enough if the only operative fact were that our ancestors had plowed up all these stones to build the walls, but they also cleared all the trees to make the fields they were encircling.
Posted by at January 27, 2019 9:30 AM