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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chantilly in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Walney Outbuildings

Smoke House

 
 
Walney Smoke House Marker image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2006
1. Walney Smoke House Marker
Inscription. Caroline Machen (at Walney) to Lewis Machen, December 1849
“You speak of making our pork into bacon before selling it. I do not think it would answer well in many accounts. Our smoke house is too small…”

James Machen (at Walney) to Lewis Machen, 17 December 1853
“The hogs were killed this week—25 in no. [sic] making 3700 lbs. This with the cutting up, salting, etc. consumed a good portion of the week…”

The restored smoke house in front of you is the only original outbuilding still standing in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. It may very well be the smoke house referred to by Caroline Machen in the letter excerpt above. Smoke houses were common fixtures on Virginia farms from colonial times. Although Caroline’s 1840 letter is the earliest surviving reference to a smoke house at Walney, it is likely that there were smoke houses here soon after a portion of the land was cleared by the Brown family by 1742.

Smoking meat is an ancient practice. Native Americans smoked whole fish or thin strips of meat to dry it for preservation during winter months. Europeans preserved their meat with salt, but used smoking to cure the outside of the meat and add flavor.

Just as with the large annual Native American deer hunts, the Machens slaughtered their hogs in the late fall
Walney Smoke House and Marker image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2006
2. Walney Smoke House and Marker
This smokehouse dates from before the Civil War.
or early winter when low temperatures assured minimal spoilage. Hams and bacons were packed in salt (often with sugar and spices added for flavor) for about six weeks to allow the salt to penetrate the meat. This created an environment so salty that bacteria couldn’t survive. Once cured, the hams and bacon were hung in the smoke house and smoked with a smoldering, low-heat fire for about two weeks. The low heat was important to ensure that the meat did not cook. If it cooked, it spoiled. Different woods (even corn cobs or grapevine) were used depending on what was available or to add a particular flavor.

Once smoked, meat was left hanging in the smoke house or other outbuildings to age before sale or use by the family. Hams were commonly not eaten for several years. Before cooking, salt-cured hams are soaked in several changes of water over 24 hours in order to remove enough salt to make them edible.
 
Erected by Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Fairfax County Park Authority.
 
Location. 38° 51.629′ N, 77° 25.832′ W. Marker is in Chantilly, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Walney Road. Touch for map. Marker is located in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5040 Walney Road, Chantilly VA 20151, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Walney House (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Walney Outbuildings (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Walney Outbuildings (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Walney Dairy (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Walney Dairy (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Walney Dairy (about 400 feet away); The Cross Farmhouse (approx. half a mile away); On This Site (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chantilly.
 
More about this marker. The marker features a photo on the lower left captioned “Smoke house at Red Rock Wilderness Regional Park, Leesburg, VA”, a diagram on the lower right captioned “Division of commercial cuts and retail cuts of pork”, and a sketch on the right of a “Duroc Sow
 
Also see . . .  Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. (Submitted on June 15, 2008.)
 
Categories. Agriculture
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 15, 2008. This page has been viewed 1,354 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 15, 2008. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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