Exploring Stone Walls

SWI2-Scan ExplStoneWallsCover
Cover design by Scott Citron using photos by Robert M. Thorson.

Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls (New York: Walker & Company, 2005).

Listen to the opening paragraphs of Exploring Stone Walls


Unlike Stone by Stone, this was neither a best-seller, nor an award-winning book.   But it sells as a steady dribble, especially in the gift shops of nature centers around New England.   As author, I take great pride that this was the very first field guide to New England stone walls, one that has since been copied (the sincerest form of flattery) by other naturalist-writers.  Many correspondents have remarked that it rides around in their cars and pickup trucks as they travel the backroads of New England.  People have fun using it.  Wall-watching beats bird-watching when there are no birds around.  There’s even a life list at the end of the book.

So far, I’ve found only one professional review on line. It’s as supportive as it is humorous.  From Northern Woodlands Magazine.

This book wasn’t my idea.  Rather, it was my publisher, George Gibson, who thought it was a good idea.  I kept on declining until my wife Kristine convinced me it was worth doing.  And, of course, she was right. This was one of the best things we ever did together, ride around for weeks of “vacation,” looking at stone walls.

For a color peek at what’s inside the book, link to Ten Walls.  I believe that all of these are listed and described  in the book.

For an idea of what to look for in a stone wall, link to Stone Wall Science.

See text below.

Somehow, this black dike of basalt managed to squirt its way along an unseen fracture in the granite of Acadia National Park. And then, before it cooled completely, the dike was rent by motion along a fault that is otherwise impossible to see.  It’s things like this that make wall watching lots of fun.