We couldn’t help but notice all the stone fence posts along the byways in this part of Kansas. Miles of them! Trees were scarce in pioneer days but Greenhorn Limestone was plentiful. I have included several links and even instructions if you want to try your hand at making these. 😉
• Greenhorn limestone formed tens of millions of years ago as the skeletal remains of coral and other organisms settled to the floor of interior seas then covering Kansas. Look for fossils and petrified wood on the surface of post-rock.
• Each post weighs between 250 and 450 pounds and is 8 to 12 inches thick and 5 to 6 feet long.
• Settlers hauled cut posts with teams of horses pulling a sled or wagon.
• Post holes were a minimum of 18 inches deep and set 15 to 30 feet apart.
• A 160-acre farm required some 360 posts and 40,000 feet of wire.
With slight variations, the “plug and feather” technique used
to create stone fence posts is one stonemasons have employed since the days of ancient Egypt. The method, described below,
is also known as “plugs and wedges,” “feather and wedges,” “wedges and shims,” “pins and feathers” and “feather and tare.”
1. Drill a row of holes into the rock some 6 to 8 inches apart.
2. Drop into each hole two half-round metal shims (aka
“feathers”), each bent at the top to keep them from slipping
into the hole.
3. Drop a wedge (aka “plug”) between each pair of shims.
4 Pound the wedges in succession with a hammer until they
emit the same telltale tone.
5. The next hammer strike should split the stone along the row.
6. Repeat until you’ve crafted a four-sided post.