The first article ever written for this column [Nov 2009] was about whatever happened to Maynard's stone walls. From the lead paragraph, "
The article went on to describe the history of stone and the reasons for Maynard’s relative dearth of stone fences and stone walls compared to neighboring towns - the core of the answer being that stone was mostly recycled into foundations when the farmlands were chopped up into house lots.
March is a good month to visit what remains of Maynard's stonework. Most of the snow is gone, yet the stonework is not yet obscured by greenery. In town, the most impressive remnant is the railroad retaining wall behind
60-62 Nason Street.
|Railroad retaining wall, circa 1849|
The wall dates to 1849 and is a mix of dry and mortared stone. Look for chisel marks a few inches deep along the edges of large granite stones. These were holes drilled to facilitate splitting rock to create flat surfaces.
Near churches, look for stone walls topped with copestones - mortared stones set on end to deter wall sitters. The wall in front of the Congregational Church, on
Street, was recently rebuilt with this feature
still in place.
The area around the intersection of Summer, Maple and Brooks Streets offers a variety of interesting stone work: copestones (by the VFW building), dry stone walls, mortared walls, path borders and a balancing rock.
Extensive stone walls can be seen along the south side of
Track Road, which
is a name for the old railroad right-of-way and future Assabet River Rail Trail
as one walks from Maynard into Stow.
|Copestone wall on Walnut Street|
Southeast of the homestead site are several glacial erratics - large granite boulders weighing three to ten tons - deposited here during an Ice Age. These boulders are somewhat rounded, suggesting that they were between the bottom of the glacier and bedrock as the glacier sloooooowly scraped and rolled them across the surface. Rocks can also end up on top of a glacier - by way of an landslide as the glacier scrapes past a mountainside - resulting in non-rounded rocks being transported miles and miles away before being deposited at a new resting place.
|Balancing rock, Brooks and Summer Streets|
Stone on town property is not up for grabs. Tumble-down stone walls crisscrossing town-owned woods are part of our collective heritage, and should never be moved or removed.
Poet Robert Frost famously wrote "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,...” He meant winter freezes or trespassing hunters. Bad enough, but repairable. Once a wall is gone, it's gone.
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