There's always something a bit odd to find in the Maine woods.

I spent a lot of summers in my youth going to overnight camps. And they used to love to take us on nature walks. Even at night sometimes. It was pretty cool. I learned all sorts of things from basic mushroom identification to learning about "swamp logs" which were phosphorescent logs that glowed at night. Sooooo cool.

Photo by Rob on Unsplash
Photo by Rob on Unsplash

As an adult, I always keep that childhood curiosity about stuff I come across in the woods. I've seen rusty old cars in weird spots, area that looked like there may have been some weird black magic stuff going on. But one thing you'll almost always run into out behind your house is a rock wall.

What are they for? Where are they from?

It's funny when I was younger, someone once told me that rock walls were old property markers, and that it's where one lot ends and another begins. That makes perfect sense. But it turns out, that's only part of the deal. There was definitely a method to the madness, but chances are they took a while to be built up the way they are.

Old stone wall in open woodland of central Connecticut.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

It would seem in most cases, that the property lines were likely already established, but the rocks were put there over time as land was cleared to either become pastures of farmland. Over time, as they were either dug up or the frost heaved them up, they were moved to the farthest edge of the area, according to

So how come they're all in the woods now?

Over time, as the land stopped being used for agricultural purposes, the forest would have a chance to reclaim the land and grow up around the rocks. some researchers even use modern technology to map these rocks walls. It's pretty cool. So while these piles aren't official boundary lines, most are likely stacked at the edge of the land.

warm sunbeams in autumn forest

For years, I'd always wonder how they got there, because they just seemed to go on forever. Turns out the reason was far more practical than I ever would've guessed. Yup, it seems that big, long pile of rocks... Is just a big, long pile of rocks. Now you can wow your friends with obscure trivia like I do. (Sidenote: my friends never care... jerks.)

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