Appalachian Dialect Celebrating Appalachia Videos

Rock Fences in Appalachia

Chitter with old bottle

We’ve been trying to get out and about in the woods in between work, gardening, and singing. On one of our recent treks I made a video about the piles of rocks that can be found up the creek a ways.

Thanks to Pap’s stories I know the rocks were dug out of the cornfields that used to be in the area. Hard to imagine corn growing where a forest stands today.

As usual there was much to see, one of the best finds of the day was an old bottle Chitter found. I’m guessing its a liquor bottle from the 50s or 60s.

I hope you enjoyed the video. To read a great post by Don Casada that mentions rock fences over in Pilkey Creek go here.

Tipper

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    June 15, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    I think it is a liquor bottle!

    I grew up in the “sand hills” of South Carolina. There were not any rocks around to dig out of the field or garden but we had plenty of sand! Fields were surrounded by woods so the woods acted like rock fence boundaries.

    Almost all of the fields that used to be farmed are now planted in pne trees. Not many people farm there anymore.

    Dennis Morgan

    I enjoyed this video. Your videos are always peacfful too watch. Thank you so much.

  • Reply
    Sherry
    June 14, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you. What a wonderful walk in those beautiful woods. At my age (75) there is no way I could possibly attempt to strike out up a mountan! This was the next best thing! You have latched on to the most important things in life & brought us along to be part of it & I love y’all for that!

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    June 14, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    Love your videos. I love treks in the woods also. I find old roads tell a story. I have a copy of a confederate map of eastern nc drawn in 1862. In my area of greene, Pitt and wilson counties it’s interesting how some roads don’t exist anymore. I always wonder what changed . Thanks for your blog. It’s a daily comfort for people with a kindred spirit.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 14, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    One more comment. Rock piles are perfect habitat for rattlesnakes and copperheads! Don’t sit on a rock wall, fence or pile. You’ve heard the phrase “It came back to bite me in the butt?” That there wuz where that come from. Be careful!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 14, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    My internet must have a hole in it and my comment from this morning fell through. Anyway anything worth saying is worth saying again. “If good fences make good neighbors then rock fences should make better ones.”

  • Reply
    Becky
    June 14, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    looks like an old syrup bottle…would definitely be curious…i remember them like that when i was a kid. I especially like your treks around because it reminds me of growing up in the holler…

  • Reply
    Gigi
    June 14, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    I love the woods. The walls and rocks you step over or climb on to. I remember as a child, I would walk up to my cousin’s house and they had a big, big flat rock. We would play on it. Make a little house like we were cooking and stuff. Good times.

  • Reply
    Walter Sloan
    June 14, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    The bottle you found could be a medicine bottle. The copper colored glass was used for medicinal purposes to insure the integrity of the medicine dispensed. Light some times would cause the medicine to lose its potency. Even today li medicines are dispensed in the colored glass bottles.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 14, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    Yep, in rocky ground you can make a crop of rocks every year, maybe two crops. (Campers suspect rocks creep out of the rock anyway at night.) Then when you have a crop you have to figure out what to do with them. When your business is plowing and/or plantin’ is not the time to figure out something to do with them, just get them out of the field and a pile or row on the field edge is the simplest, fastest way. over time it starts to look like an intentional fence and it sorta is. Anyway, the rocks’ll be there if/when you figure out a use for ’em.

    In my time in the woods I would sometimes find a line or row of rocks in the holler running along with the creek with a low place just behind (upslope of) them. I figured out they marked the lower edge of skid trail from the logging days. Same problem, skidding dug out rocks and loose rocks were dangerous for the animals as well as more difficult to skid over. So they laid them along the side, out of the way and helping to keep the skidway in shape. The modern counterpart is hiking trails with rocks along the lower side to keep the treadway from.slowly wearing off and turning ‘sideling’.

    I like your comment about the water beaded up but not evaporating Matt. There are all kinds of signs in nature if we can learn first to observe then put two and two together. The old name for it was “woodlore”. If you said that today, most people probably wouldn’t know what you meant.

  • Reply
    Christine
    June 14, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    I guess I must have gone down a ‘rabbit hole’ and came to your pie crust recipe + rock fence/wall post. I grew up in New Brunswick Canada. We lived on an 80 acre farm + didn’t have ‘rock walls’ but did have ‘rock piles’. It seems to me that the thinking back then (early 1900’s) would have been that it was too much work to ‘take the rocks somewhere’ so they just piled them up in a pile/mound smack in the middle of a field. My sister and I used to ‘play’/climb on them when we were little. Tree lines, became ‘natural borders’ for property and there would also be rocks included in these strips of land… just nor a wall. I loved your most recent video because one of the first things you mentioned that you wanted to find was ‘an arrowhead’. Same! Many people have found arrowheads where I now live in Ontario within the Credit River watershed. I loved the ‘running water’ in your video. It reminded me of one of our favourite kid past times, when we used to walk up or down ‘brooks’ in the summer when they were dried up enough that you could walk pretty easily without risking a broken limb/neck at the same time. These brooks were in Nova Scotia where my mother’s family settled near the shore of the Bay of Fundy, having come from England after WWII. Your videos/blog drummed up a lot of beautiful childhood memories for me. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    June 14, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    Enjoyed the video. I remember rock walls in N.C. and see many of them here in Hawaii. I’ve also seen them in Asia. Rocks were a bane to farmers everywhere. BTW, that WAS a liquor bottle.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    June 14, 2021 at 11:36 am

    I enjoyed your walk in the woods and like Miss Cindy I’ve always felt a kinship with the woods.
    In the bluegrass part of KY. there are many miles of rock fences but here in E.KY. all I can remember seeing are rock piles. The last time I walked a bench on our farm where they grew corn probably 90 yrs. ago I saw several rock piles. One pile had yellowroot (goldenseal) growing out of it. This flat bench, a third of the way up to the ridge line, now has large oaks and poplars growing on it. An uncle told me years ago he hoed corn on that flat and killed many copperheads.

  • Reply
    John T
    June 14, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Great Video! I really like these.

  • Reply
    Alice Somich
    June 14, 2021 at 10:31 am

    When I was growing up outside Cleveland, OH, there were little areas of woods in our neighborhood. My brother would catch polywogs in the little creeks we would find! All those areas have been replaced with homes! I so enjoyed this peaceful walk in the woods among rock fences! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    dee
    June 14, 2021 at 10:14 am

    I always enjoy a walk in the woods, especially if you cross or walk by a little creek. Growing up in the most beautiful little town, my cousin and I would always look for the woods nearby and a tiny stream. We could spend hours as children completely enamored with the beauty of flowers and the delight of looking in the stream for tiny minnows darting around and little snails too. Although my cousin and I are in our 70’s now, those precious childhood memories are fresh in our minds. We find a soft stillness with a wealth of fresh intoxicating sweet smells of ground, water and greenery in the woods that refresh your senses.
    Living in SE PA now, you find those rock fences all over here. It must have been back braking work, removing those big rocks and moving them to the side of the field, stacked neatly in a row about 2 to 3 feet tall. About 20 years ago, I met a cousin of mine in NE MS who brought along a dear old gentleman who knew the area where some of my ancestors had lived there. We got in his truck and drove up the mountain passing many old pioneer cemeteries of my ancestors and turning onto a fire lane he drove in about a mile. Then we had to get out and walk the rest of the way into the woods another mile when we came upon another old pioneer cemetery of my ancestors and it was surrounded by a rock wall that was about 2 1/2 feet high. I asked why way out here in the woods and he told us that years before a road came by this cemetery and there were people living nearby that had little farms. Now no one lives out there and it is completely surrounded by forest, but like Tipper, I could have just sat there and listened thinking of the active people that had lived and worked so hard to raise their families in that area.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 14, 2021 at 10:08 am

    I have loved to walk in the woods ever since I was a child. I agree with Miss Cindy. It is a great place to clear your head and appreciate the beauty God has given us.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    June 14, 2021 at 9:33 am

    My daughter bought a farm a few years ago that didn’t have any sign of the old house that once stood there on the slight incline. The rock sidewalk is lined with Easter flowers for ten or fifteen feet on both sides. That’s the first clue that a house once stood there. The incline has a long retaining wall that is made of rocks. The wall opens to steps mid-way down the old road that was likely used by carriages. I can’t find any information about its history, but would love to know how old the rock wall is. Rock walls in Lexington, KY are amazing and so interesting.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    June 14, 2021 at 9:21 am

    I particularly like that old forgotten roadbed. Many of the old routes in our area were once traveled by Native Americans and old wagons. I used to love exploring them and imagining how they must have looked to those who traveled all those many years ago. ATVs speed by my grandfather’s old root cellar most days on the Pinnacle Creek Trail section of the Hatfueld and McCoy Trail. I know some of the history, as my young uncles dug out the cellar and piled the rocks from the field to make the walls. One uncle would laughingly tell us he had plans for a hideout, but when Grandpa saw how well it was coming along he made plans for a perfect root cellar. I have helped carry jars from there in the forties and early fifties. Many rocks still lay piled up at the edges of what was once huge fields of corn. There is a large rock out in the middle of the good sized creek at the old swimming hole. We used to go sit on the rock as children, and any time somebody makes a trek up the old trail by the creek they take photos standing on the rock. With visible wet legs they can stand in threes to take a photo on a rock that once held so many sweet memories. Uncle Larry, while searching for old landmarks recently said, “Its the rocks that stay.”

    By far the most memorable is the old rock chimney that still stands from a 2x gr uncle, Joseph Green, built in the 1880s. Great video and blog, Tipper! I am a little partial to mountain walks and old rocks that show us a bit about the past.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    June 14, 2021 at 8:30 am

    I love the outdoor videos. It’s hard to say which part is my favorite, but I think it’s when the butterfly came to see you and Deer Hunter. He obviously knows good folks when he sees them. I do believe by the shape of that bottle, it’s a liquor bottle, but could be any type of apothecary bottle. I’d almost bet it held medicine (if not snake oil.) I love to hear that creek babbling. As I heard you talk about you and Pap walking and sharing, making lifetime memories, it hit me the same thing is happening with you, Deer Hunter and your daughters in the same place. The circle of life is a great thing and I don’t know why anyone would not want young folks to continue in the righteous path. Oh yeah, “if I was a butterfly, I’d flutter by, rest a wing and just say hi!”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 14, 2021 at 7:43 am

    I’ve seen a few of those old rock fences and they are a work of art, just stunning to look at and think about. I really enjoy your videos of the walks in the woods and up the mountain. When I was a child we lived in several different locations/ states. When me moved the first thing I always did was find the woods and creeks. That’s where I spent my time. The woods and creeks were where I felt safest and the most content. They were all different but at the same time they were alike. I felt a kenship with the woods, it was a safe quiet place to hang out.

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