ancestryink fisherman

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Houses on the Move - By Oxen, Horse, Boat and Train

Humans moved with remarkable frequency back in the 1700's and 1800's.  We think we are a mobile society, but take a look backwards and you will see that families moved lock, stock and barrel - by horse, wagon, or ship - over very long distances more frequently than some of us will ever board a plane in our entire lifetime.

They moved in pursuit of fertile farm land, rock quarries, whales, religious tolerance, fair weather, sometimes after local catastrophes like a fire or hurricane has leveled their home and town.

But what happens when an entire house moves?  Tracking the movement of humans can be a lot easier to understand than the relocation of a house.  And houses moved a lot!

Newfoundland- moving a house with oil barrels and boat

By horse, oxen, over water, by train, even by sled dogs - houses left their original foundations and migrated to new settings quite frequently in the late 1800's and early 1900's, as documented by photographic images.

However, even as early as the American Revolution, Loyalist inhabitants of Castine, Maine literally broke their homes down board by board, loaded them into boats and sailed off to New Brunswick, Canada where they would rebuild their homes and live in fealty to their King (and yes, some received land grants for their Loyalist service.)

These days, there is a universal infatuation with Tiny Homes.  They are sprouting up everywhere, and sometimes on wheels.  But the moving of a two-story 1800's wooden home, with its large girth and height, sometimes complete with chimneys, fireplaces, plaster walls and moldings, seems a much more impressive feat.

Following are a few remarkable images of these traveling homes.

Moving a home by oxen, Newburyport, MA.

McCobb house at sea

In Phippsburg, Maine, the stately 1806-built McCobb house is ferried 85 miles across the ocean to its new location overlooking Penobscot Bay.  The new owner, a wealthy Philadelphia man named Dodge, fell in love with the house and ordered it rolled down a knoll on logs, complete with original granite steps and foundation, loaded onto a barge, sailed across the waters, and upon reaching land, pulled by teams of horses to the new setting.

McCobb house

Below, moving a San Francisco home with draught horses in 1908

Moving houses by horse and train:

Kansas, late 1800's

Moving ashore, by hand.

Placentia Bay, Newfoundland

A schooner rides her mooring after towing a house back to harbour. The house was washed out to sea by the 1929 Burin Tsunami.

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