Winder in Barrow County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
Fort Yargo's Smokehouse
Fort Yargo's smokehouse is a reconstruction and is in use most winters. Smokehouses served to cure meat or fish with smoke and salt. Before the invention of refrigeration, fresh meat would not last very long unless it was "smoked" or frozen. In the early winter, farmers butchered animals to use for food during the winter. In colder climates, the excess meat was frozen, but in the south, it was more often smoked or salted, or both.
Meat is cured in two steps. First, fresh cuts such as hams, shoulders, and roasts are packed in a box of coarse salt for approximately six weeks. The salt draws out most of the water before the salted meats are hung. Next, a fire is built and kept smoldering for one to two weeks. Freshly cut wood, especially hickory and oak which burn slowly, smoke heavily, and add good flavor to the meat, is often used. This results in dried, long-lasting, smoke-flavored meat that remains edible for about two years.
When an area was first settled, the absence of sawmills and brick kilns meant that most smokehouses were built of logs or stone. Stone did not burn, but was difficult with which to build. Later, when
Hunting provided a large portion of the settlers' food supply in the winter. Turkeys, small game such as rabbits, squirrels, and opossum, and large game such as deer helped satisfy the family's need for protein. Rarely could a family slaughter enough of their livestock to feed them all year.
Settlers and frontiersmen relied on rifles and muskets. Boys and sometimes girls as young as six or seven learned to stalk prey, aim, and bring down game for the table. Some became proficient and could provide for their family even at a young age.
The men of the Living History Society built this smokehouse. When possible, they used only 18th century tools. A grindstone on site helped keep the tools sharp for tasks such as hollowing out the salt box.
When our smokehouse is not open for viewing, these photos can give you an idea of how its interior looks and works. On the left is its ceiling with empty hooks for hanging meat, and sometimes a few stray horseshoes! Below is the floor with its fire pit and on the right its salt box. Above right is a smokehouse full of smoked hams.
A blacksmith made the hooks for our smokehouse.
Erected by Georgia Department of Natural
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Forts and Castles • Parks & Recreational Areas • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 33° 58.572′ N, 83° 44.091′ W. Marker is in Winder, Georgia, in Barrow County. Marker can be reached from Fort Yargo Road east of South Broad Street (Georgia Highway 81), on the left when traveling south. Marker and smokehouse are located at the Fort Yargo Interpretive Site within Fort Yargo State Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Winder GA 30680, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Yargo's Log Structure (a few steps from this marker); Fort Yargo's Beehive Oven (a few steps from this marker); Fort Yargo's Cabin (a few steps from this marker); Fort Yargo's Frontier Fences (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Yargo's Living History Society (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Yargo (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Yargo's Early History (within shouting distance of this marker); Explore the Unique History of Fort Yargo (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winder.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Fort Yargo State Park
Credits. This page was last revised on December 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 4, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 118 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 4, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.