More than three miles of massive stone walls.
That’s what resulted when Caleb Haley (1869 to 1924) owned and farmed the land now known as Haley Farm State Park. Caleb, a Fulton Street Fish Marker dealer, extracted rock from the earth to create well-built enclosures for pastures and as boundaries. Peck marks may be seen on the rocks in the walls that meander throughout the now-forested park.
The foundations for the farm’s barn still stand near the entrance of the park. Some of the original timbers are there too. Iron rings anchored into those walls are a touchstone to a now-vanished farmer who used them to tether livestock. Barns have form, function, beauty and stories to tell.
The vivid recollections of what was seen on a walk were stirred up after reading Barns of Connecticut by Markham Starr (Wesleyan University Press, 2013). The cover of the book features a stunning image of red barn with a stone foundation. That image provided insight as it seems similar to the layout for the Haley Farm’s barn.
The caption on page 68 of the 180-page volume (with 140 images) “this barn forms an ell with the barn above. The cellar under this section many have provided a place to store manure through the winter months or to house animals and equipment year round.”
Visitors nowadays can explore the ruins of the barn and outbuildings and form their own opinions – or just enjoy an outing. There are expansive views of Long Island Sound and Mumford Cove with glimpses of resident ospreys along one path. In warm weather, birds and butterflies are plentiful in a meadow past a small pond. Walk awhile more to view Jemima’s Rock, a huge glacial erratic boulder split in two. Nearby train tracks and Amtrak whooshing by provide a reminder that civilization is not far away.
Along the way, take time to ponder that this place was very nearly lost to development but for the dedication of a community that worked to preserve it.
Editor’s note: First in a series of walks exploring barns and stone structures with history at places accessible to the public. And books that add to the journey and provide fodder for observations.