Virginia Worm Fence

A “Virginia worm fence,” also known as a zigzag fence, snake fence, worm fence, or split rail fence, is a type of fence that was widely used in the American frontier and rural areas, including Virginia, from the colonial period through the 19th century. It’s characterized by its zigzag pattern, which arises from the way the fence rails are stacked at an angle, without the need for posts to be dug into the ground. This construction method made it highly adaptable to various terrains and easy to build with the materials available on hand, typically split logs from trees like chestnut, cedar, or pine.

The design’s effectiveness stems from its flexibility and durability, as the zigzag configuration allows the fence to absorb the force of livestock without collapsing. Additionally, the construction did not require nails or other fasteners, which were expensive or hard to come by in frontier areas. The fence sections could be easily moved or expanded as needed, making it a practical choice for early American settlers who might need to adjust their fenced areas for crop rotation or grazing.

The “worm” in its name is thought to derive from the serpentine shape of the fence, reminiscent of a worm’s undulating movement. This type of fence is an iconic element of early American rural landscapes and is still used and appreciated today for its rustic aesthetic and historical significance.

Virginia Worm Fence
Virginia Worm Fence

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