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Homesteading historical puzzle

ancient homesteading puzzle

It looks like there was once a hand made dam here in the creek next to our new pump.

strange rock in the creek is a mysteryI'm guessing that the water was channeled towards the hole that seems to have been cut out with a hammer and chisel.

Maybe a pipe was connected at the bottom to carry the water to some sort of mini grain mill or rudimentary electrical generator?

It must have taken the previous homesteaders hours upon hours of hard, back breaking labor to carry these rocks from I'm guessing the nearby river which is an 8 minute drive away. That kind of project must have surely yielded some sort of mechanical advantage to make it worthwhile.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Like the Roman one found at Chemtou in Tunesia;

Or it could be that the stone was standing straight up and the hole was for holding the axle of a water wheel. In which case there probably should be two stones.

How old do you think the dam was? Must have been a heck of a job if done without power tools!

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Jul 22 17:36:33 2011

I think you may be right.

Seems logical that there may be another stone with a similar hole.

It also explains why this stone was off to the side of the creek.

I'll look around more closely to see if one of the other rocks has a hole.

Comment by mark Fri Jul 22 19:39:14 2011

Not sure how old it could be.

Wished I could reach back in time and talk to the original engineer.

Comment by mark Fri Jul 22 19:44:31 2011
Is it possible it was used to hold a post upright? Maybe it was a structural part of a dam or bridge or something. It'd be fascinating to find out what it was for!
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Sat Jul 23 08:48:53 2011
It would have to be a pretty small post --- not enough to support a bridge. I always thought it was a dynamite hole because someone once pointed a hole like that out to me as that. I have absolutely no data to support my hypothesis, though, and it doesn't really make sense --- if you drilled a hole in a big rock to put a plug of dynamite in, and the dynamite went off, the hole should be demolished, right?
Comment by anna Sat Jul 23 11:13:19 2011
If the rock is limestone, the hole could be a natural erosion passage thru rock which was relatively recently moved. If it is a dynamite hole, a rock drill would have gone deeper to place the dynamite, and the rock on top would remain relatively intact. It could be a dynamite hole for a road cut and the rubble moved for some reason, such as making the upstream ford, and then washed down in a flood. If it is sandstone, it could be waste from the manufacture of mill stones. I've even known farmers to make such a hole in rock to place a fencepost so their stock could get to water.
Comment by Errol Sat Jul 23 11:31:21 2011

I thought you might have been the one who told me about dynamite holes. Thanks for the refresher --- it makes more sense now!

I think this is probably limestone. (I didn't peer at it closely when I was down there last, but it looks like it from the photos.) I like your fencepost idea, but those other rocks were clearly brought in for something too. (Our creek is rock-free.)

Comment by anna Sat Jul 23 13:52:49 2011
I come from an area where rock can sit exposed..and big. Not sure but to me it looks like a dynamite hole. They drill a hole, put in dynamite, cover with old tires connected together to stop rocks from flying everywhere then they blow it. It might have been smaller in the past but could have become more pronounced at the mouth due to erosion. Just a guess but if I were in my area and saw it I would think dynamite.
Comment by eagergridlessbeaver Mon Jul 25 15:13:32 2011
Thanks for the extra info on how people dynamite apart rocks! I agree --- this does seem to fit the bill.
Comment by anna Tue Jul 26 08:06:20 2011
I am going to take a guess at a fish catching system.The dam could have been made with a small channel to one side so fish had to travel that way and the rocks with holes were used to hold small poles that supported and kept from floating away some type of basket or small waterwheel with baskets instead of paddles or maybe some type of net.
Comment by busybee Wed Aug 3 01:53:06 2011
That's a fascinating suggestion I never even considered, and one that the Native Americans could have used, possibly. Intriguing!
Comment by anna Wed Aug 3 07:37:55 2011

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