Friday, November 4, 2011

Not Just a Pretty Fence! ( Fridays Fences)

If we rightly estimate things, what in them is purely owing to nature,
and what to labour,
we shall find ninety-nine parts of a hundred are wholly
to be put on account of labour.

                         John Locke


 This fence is referred to by many names, The Worm Fence, or The Snake fence. The proper name is the Virginia Rail Zig Zag Fence. While admiring these fences I decided to do some research. I know a lot about fences, at least how to help build them but have always had a soft spot for the beauty, and history of this one. I thought I would share what I have learned.
 All of these fences were made from trees of Cedar, good Chestnut, Oak, Juniper, or Pine. It would depend on the area, and the abundance of that tree. I only know about the fences in my area.  They are made of red cedar, a plentiful tree that is very durable, and long lasting.  This fence was built to last; a good cedar fence could last 50, to 100 years. I have seen evidence of this first hand. Ok, maybe not the hundred.
 This fence was built this way and not straight to handle the heavy winds better. If this fence were straight the winds would no doubt topple it over very easy. There was no wire used on this fence.
This fence was usually built 10 rails high with two corner posts supporting every corner. That would mean 12 rails per panel.
 The fence bed (width of ground covered) would be about five feet wide. The fence rails were about 11 feet long and they overlapped about a foot on each corner. This means 8 feet in a direct line.
  This fence with these calculations would take seven thousand, nine hundred, and twenty  (that is 7920)  rails per mile of fence.
 Now! Think of the work. There were no chainsaws, or logging equipment back then. You will never look at that fence the same way. I haven’t. Amazing!

 The above fence is not an original but it is nice to see someone carrying on with this design. Maybe it will be around for 50 to 100 years.

Later.

If you love fences as much as I do check out  Fridays Fences.

http://lifeaccordingtojanandjer.blogspot.com/2011/11/fridays-fences-6.html





25 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed learning more about this wonderful fence. Thank you!

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  2. What an interesting post. I love wooden fences, but I've never actually stopped to consider them beyond their visual impact. You always take us to places in your heart that open our own to a new way of seeing. This is what I so love about your writing. I know that from now on, I'll be looking a little more thoughtfully at the fences I see.

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  3. That's a LOT of wood to cut! But the result is beautiful!

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  4. That worm fence is really weathered! I too did a post a few weeks back about the "zig zag" fences in my area. I live close to Gettysburg, PA and they use this type of fencing alot because of the rocky terrain. There is no post hole digging required. Have a great weekend!

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  5. This info gives me a great appreciation of the hard work involved in these kind of fences! This is a common sight in Gettysburg Pa. throughout the battlefield. Thanks for playing FF

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  6. Great shot! I can't pass a rail fence without stopping for a photo. So much nicer to look at than most fences.

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  7. these fences are fascinating to me - don't see them here. and, yes, the work involved in them is astounding to think about - especially way back when! thanks for this!

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  8. It truly is an amazing feat to build such a fence. I hope to see one in person someday.

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  9. Those rail fences portray a LOT of sweat and Days of working. We only have rail fences around here in places where the ground is nothing but river rock. The only wood available is soft evergreen like pine and fir so the fences don't last like cedar and chestnut.

    I spent enough time with my dad digging post holes and hauling and holding posts to have a lot of respect for fence builders and maintainers though.

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  10. We have a 'few' 'round these parts who try to duplicate the old 'Zig~Zag' fences. I hate to admit, but I do remember several 'real' ones scattered over the countryside when I was a wee chicklett!!!

    God bless ya and have a wonderful weekend sweetie!!!

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  11. I love ornate fences like these, thanks for visiting my blog
    Bridget #12

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  12. It was nice of you to provide this interesting background history! I've seen a fence like this just a handful of times. An amazing amount of work, yes!

    Thank you for your visit and kind comment on my fence image. Hope you have a great weekend. =)

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  13. I love these fences, and they really do seem to withstand the test of time

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  14. That is a lot of information! It is not really the same as the snake fences we have in Ontario - more cross pieces, for one thing. It is fascinating to see these fences that have been abandonned long enough for the trees to grow up around them!!

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  15. Like you, I admire and appreciate these fences for their form and function and durability. There's several old homes in my area that have split rail fencing, a variation of this style. They are interesting to photograph from all angles.

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  16. Loved your history lesson! and I love these fences, too.

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  17. Oh my with this post I would never look any fence the same anymore. I could only imagine how many days or months they have made this fence, from cutting to putting this up. Amazing! A work of human hands! Awesome post you've got here and thanks for sharing. Happy weekend!

    Fence

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  18. Egads that is a lot of work. First cutting the trees, then the branches, then setting the posts and building the fence. I'm tired just thinking about it.

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  19. I won't look again at fences in the same way. I will be more observant!

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  20. I never knew the history about the zig zag fence. The wise choice of trees used for construction was probabaly the reason for survival during the civil war.

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  21. I still see cedar rail fences here in East Gwillimbury but they are disappearing as Toronto expands northward. I'm not sure I have seen any with as many horizontal rails, though. I'll have to pay better attention.

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  22. What a great "old" fence....

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  23. Well, you have your 128th follower in me. I am in love with your blog. I so wish you lived nearby here in VA instead of so far away in Canada.You have so much to share. I loved reading the history of the fences I see so often here in Rockbridge County. And the story about dressing for the wedding and then right back to your overalls...that sounds like me. My blog photo is even in overalls. When I am not teaching at 72, I am wearing my overalls. Hope it is not toooo cold up there. Today was our first really and windy cutting cold day. I think winter is on its way. genie

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  24. yes; your blog is now being used like wikipedia for fences...

    now, after looking at your post, we are building the zig zag fence for an interior fence :) in a few certain areas...

    hugs and love!

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