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Gray rock fences built of ancient limestone are hallmarks of Kentucky's Bluegrass landscape. Why did Kentucky farmers turn to rock as fence-building material when most had earlier used hardwood rails? Who were the masons responsible for Kentucky's lovely rock fences and what are the different rock forms used in this region? In this generously illustrated book, Carolyn Murray-Wooley and Karl Raitz address those questions and explore the background of Kentucky's rock fences, the talent and skill of the fence masons, and the Irish and Scottish models they followed in their work. They also correct inaccurate popular perceptions about the fences and use census data and archival documents to identify the fence masons and where they worked. As the book reveals, the earliest settlers in Kentucky built dry-laid fences around eighteenth-century farmsteads, cemeteries, and mills. Fence building increased dramatically during the nineteenth century so that by the 1880s rock fences lined most roads and bounded pastures and farmyards throughout the Bluegrass. Farmers also built or commissioned rock fences in New England, the Nashville Basin, and the Texas hill country, but the Bluegrass may have had the most extensive collection of quarried rock fences in North America. This is the first book-length study on any American fence type. Filled with detailed fence descriptions, an extensive list of masons' names, drawings, photographs, and a helpful glossary, it will appeal to folklorists, historians, geographers, architects, landscape architects, and masons, as well as general readers intrigued by Kentucky's rock fences.
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