Dry Stone Retaining Walls and Fences

Historic stone fences are a unique and distinctive feature of the Bluegrass landscape. An example of these fences can be seen at the former landfill on Old Frankfort Pike. In addition to stone fences, the Town Branch Trail will highlight other dry stone structures, retaining walls, which can be found along the Town Branch to maintain the stream banks and channel the water. British and Scotch-Irish craftsmen supervised much of the dry stone construction during the 1800s.

Dry stone structures do not depend on mortar to hold retaining walls or fences together. Instead, they rely on the skill of the craftsmen to shape and place individual stones as well as the forces of gravity and frictional resistance. Mortared walls generally have a shorter life span than dry stone walls because frozen rain and snow get trapped in mortared seams and push the joints apart. Due to construction techniques, dry stone retaining walls and fences can drain naturally without damage. Remarkably, as a dry stone structure settles over time, it actually becomes stronger. The dry stone retaining walls found along Town Branch have been exceptionally durable and have functioned well for up to two centuries and counting.


Alvey, R. G. Kentucky Bluegrass Country. pp. 37-47. 1992.
Dry Stone Conservancy. www.drystoneusa.org