Root cellar

Root cellars were common on 19th century farms. The stone-lined cellar near the Ledyard sawmill is dug into the rise next to the pentway - typical construction and siting for a root cellar. This construction resulted in a storage area that stayed at a consistent, above-freezing temperature year-round.

Despite the name, not just root vegetables, but apples, cabbage, pumpkins, and other foods were kept in these chambers for months after harvest. Crops for winter animal feed like turnips and parsnips were also commonly stored. Large cellars were needed even for small farms. In 1870, the Brown farm on this property harvested 40 bushels of potatoes and some of their fellow farmers in Ledyard up to 150 bushels. (source: 1870 Federal Agricultural Census.)

The root cellar is on the Sawmill Park property is a few hundred feet east of the mill building. The cellar is on the west side of Sawmill Pentway between the mill driveway and Iron Street/Route 214. This is the original cellar, but has been rebuilt/repaired several times, most recently about ten years ago. The entrance is open now, but for use as a root cellar there would have been a well-fitted door to keep out animal pests.

The entrance is about 4 feet wide and 4 1/2 feet high with fairly long entry passage of nearly 20 feet. The chamber is a little over 6 feet tall, 7 feet deep, and 12 feet wide.