December 4, 2007

My Cobblestone Courtyard

Yesterday, in my blog, I wrote about horseshoes and showed a photo of Martyn’s hoof standing on a cobblestone surface.  Today, I’d like to share with you a little bit about those cobblestones.  When I designed my stables, it was my desire to pave the courtyard between the three buildings with gorgeous, old cobblestone and with a bit of searching, the perfect supply was delivered to Bedford from Elizabeth, NJ.   

What many people don’t realize is that cobblestones originally found their way to this country during Colonial times upon large sailing ships coming over from Europe.  Before the voyage, these stone blocks were loaded onboard as ballast, keeping the ships upright and sea-worthy for the journey across the ocean.  Upon arrival, heavy cargo replaced the cobblestones and the ships sailed back to Europe.  And all those mountains of stones that were left behind were put to good use by early settlers as paving blocks.

Early roads were nothing but dirt or sometimes crushed oyster shells  – dusty in dry weather and muddy in wet.  By lining the streets with cobblestones, both problems were solved.  Eventually, asphalt paved over most cobblestone streets, providing for smoother roadways.  Today, most paving stones are quarried from Himalayan granite found in India.  However, occasionally, those wonderful, old original blocks are dug up and salvaged like these from Elizabeth.  And I just love the clippity-clop sound of my horses’ hooves on the stone surface.