Whenever I ride through the woods near the barn, I keep a lookout for the history of the land: stone walls that mark the old fields (now overgrown with trees), foundatons of houses and hunting lodges long demolished, cellar holes and lime quarries. Although now the type of lyme we see in the woods is more frequently associated with ticks.
Lime was mined for chimney mortar and wall plaster. Although Estabrook Woods wasn’t a rich source of limestone, there are still a few sites where you can see the limestone ribbons protruding from the ground. I passed this site a week or so ago, and while it’s now green, not covered with leaves, it hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years or so.
In fact, Thoreau mentions the Woods often in his journals. On Nov. 14, 1857 he wrote of a ride to the limestone quarry on Old Carlisle Road (now known as Estabrook Road)
On the way back to the barn, we pass the old lime kiln, burried under the weeds. It was used as early as the 1690s when cartloads of limestone or were backed up an earthen ramp and dumped into the oven for baking. It’s said that cellar stones for the kiln can still be seen along the Estabrook Road. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them