Thursday, November 17, 2005
Sand Creek now and then
(Click on the photo for a larger image; then you can read some of the labels!)
The above picture shows the 40 acres (or 40 square acres, as Pablo would call it) that I call home. The yellow lines are the property lines. Sand Creek is the very very straight line cutting diagonally across the northern end of the property; the stream was ditched in 1918 when people optimistically believed that fertile soil abounded in the logged-off land and extensive bogs to the north. One of my goals is to restore a few curves to this section to improve the carrying capacity for brook trout.
The eastern third of the land, light green in color, is all low sedge/alder/willow swamp. During dry summers we may be able to walk across it without getting our feet too wet, but usually hip boots are a requirement. The land across the swamp is all county tax forfeited land, 40 acres, hopefully too small for the county to bother logging the mature aspens there.
The southwest quarter of the land, dark green in color, is the white pine woods. The pines are of varying height and maturity; the largest ones are near the middle of the property. The lighter colored shape in the woods is a small bog; the cabin is just to the north of the bog, and the new house site is about 50 yards north of that. My gardens are between the new house site and the swamp to the east. The patch of trees between the new house site and the creek is mostly tamarack.
Following the driveway from the house site towards the road, we pass the chicken coop and yard on the north side of the road, and the horse pasture beyond that. The pond does not show up well in this photo, but I have labeled the location. The light colored area between the pond and the road is bare sand and gravel; this photo was taken in 2003, not too long after the pond was excavated and the sand and gravel used to build up the driveway.
Contrast the photo above with this one, enhanced from a 1939 aerial photo:
Our 40 was part of the farm across the creek back then, and used mostly for pasture and for the gravel pit where the pond is now. The farmer, a Swedish immigrant, quit farming three years after this photo was taken, and to my knowledge this 40 was not used as pasture after that. This picture shows the grade of the old Fleming Logging Railroad, which was in existence in the 1890's. The main line crosses the creek near the road; a siding branches off from the main line near what is now our chicken yard, and rejoins the main line across the bog from our cabin. The grades are still visible today; the siding is kept clear as a trail.
I am amazed at how sparse the trees are in this photo. The land must have seemed much more open back in those days.
Edited to add: I should say that the land relief around here is pretty flat. I doubt if there is more than twenty feet of difference between the highest point and the lowest point here.
More history to follow soon!
at 3:24 PM