Sturbridge in Worcester County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
An Open Landscape
By the early 1800s, family farms covered southern New England, and most of the land had been cleared of trees. For generations farmers had been cutting down trees, draining swamps, hauling rocks out of their fields, and building fences to control their livestock.
New England farmers built several kinds of fences. Right here you can see “zigzag” fences (also known as “worm fences” or “Virginia rail fences”) that were easy to build but used lots of wood. At the Freeman Farm you will see post and rail fences and a much tighter board fence around the garden to keep out pests. Behind the Freeman farm buildings and at the Salem Towne House and Farm, you can see stone walls, the most permanent kind of farm fence.
Clearing the forest was back-breaking work, done with axes, farm carts, and teams of oxen. In some towns, over 80% of the land was open by 1830. Since 1860 or so the number of farms has been declining in New England. Most of those farm fields are now forest again.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers
Location. 42° 6.286′ N, 72° 5.835′ W. Marker is in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in Worcester County. Marker is on Old Sturbridge Village Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge MA 01566, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Brooks Pottery Kiln (within shouting distance of this marker); The Smokehouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Welcome to the Pasture Walk (about 300 feet away); Freeman Farm (about 400 feet away); Today we see a different view. (about 400 feet away); Millstones (about 600 feet away); Controlling Livestock: The Town Pound (about 600 feet away); The Graveyard (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sturbridge.
More about this marker. A picture of a Landscape, Auburn, Massachusetts, 1860-1870 appears on the left side of the marker. It contains a caption of “This painting shows an open farming landscape in central Massachusetts. You can see farmhouses, barns, stone walls, livestock grazing, and farmers loading a cart with hay. Can you find the horse-drawn hay rake? It was new, and reduced the labor needed to bring in the hay.”
Photographs at the marker’s right depict a zigzag fence, and farmers “Clearing the landscape – New England farmers worked in the woods every winter, cutting trees and hauling logs.”
Credits. This page was last revised on August 11, 2018. It was originally submitted on August 11, 2018, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 62 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 11, 2018, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.