Category Archives: Earthworks

Carolina Bays; A Peek Into a Violent, Prehistoric World

No telling what compelled John Lawson and his gang to strip naked and wade through tangled underbrush and into the murky water, but we know with the benefit of three hundred years’ hindsight that if he’d moved north or south a bit, he might have avoided the unpleasant plunge altogether. The famed Lawson party, exploring … Continue reading

Posted in Earthworks, Indians | 4 Comments

James River Steam Brewery Cellars; Underground Richmond Rediscovered

Great things have been accomplished in pursuit of drink. The Pilgrims made an early exit from the Mayflower because their beer was running low. New England may be the most prominent example of landmarks that exist because of the need for strong drink, yet there are other extraordinary rock piles carved into the landscape because … Continue reading

Posted in Earthworks, Ghost towns, Legends, Military | 2 Comments

Fort Hancock; Coastal Defense Through the Nuclear Age

I’m often asked for tips by folks who want to find and explore abandoned history, and the discussion always circles around to trespassing. “Do you ever ignore ‘No Trespassing’ signs?” they ask. My answer? No. There’s no reason to, especially when there’s so much to see on public property nearby major cities. For instance, few … Continue reading

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Williamsburg’s Civil War Battlefield and a Community at a Crossroads

The white clapboard house hides in plain sight on a short city street lined with recycle bins and compact sedans. Nothing on the exterior betrays what happened within those walls long ago, that officers engaged in the nation’s greatest crisis made decisions that ended many lives and spared others. What’s now a rental home close … Continue reading

Posted in African Americans, Earthworks, Military | 8 Comments

Dorchester’s Disappearing Middens; A Last Link to the Ancients

Firehawk sidles his kayak up to the reedy bank and hops out, shells crunching underfoot. I would’ve never found this spot hidden among endless flats of phragmites, but he knows exactly where it is. He comes here occasionally, paying a sort of tribute to a migration his ancestors made countless times. It’s their trash we’ve … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Earthworks, Food, Ghost towns, Indians | 1 Comment

The Goose Creek Canal; Craftsmanship that Outlived Failure

Tucked in the snaking suburban streets of Loudoun County, Virginia are the remnants of a construction project gone wrong. This isn’t some formerly up-and-coming neighborhood that fell victim to the housing bust. This failure is a hundred-fifty years old. Look deep into the heart of these ruins, though, and you can sense the pulse of … Continue reading

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Poplar Grove; Imagine There’s No Tide Mill

No telling what John Lennon thought when he hopped out of his Rolls Royce at Poplar Grove and saw the tide mill off in the distance. Perhaps the structure’s rustic charm inspired some nascent song lyrics or signaled the peace of mind Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono would invariably find at their country home. … Continue reading

Posted in Earthworks, Food, Ghost towns, Industry | 23 Comments

Nike Missile Batteries; Forgotten Sentinels of American Cities

They’re not much to look at. Pads of cracked concrete and rusted steel. Squat cinder block buildings that could pass for some 50s-era strip mall. Aged and rusty chain-link fences are usually involved, too. It takes a broad stretch of the imagination to believe that these forlorn compounds once guarded the U.S.’s major cities. The … Continue reading

Posted in Earthworks, Ghost towns, Military | 28 Comments

Cricket Hill; Revolutionary War Earthworks Hiding in Plain Sight

Revolutionary War earthworks–genuine ones that haven’t been touched up or reconstructed–are hard to come by anymore. They’ve been fending off the elements and growth for getting on two-and-a-half centuries. That’s why it’s so remarkable that a rural Virginia county contains the well-preserved remains of an earthen fort built by hardscrabble colonists in 1776. You have … Continue reading

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