Armchair Explorer: Safe Harbor Nature Preserve Root Cellar

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to co-lead a history hike through Lancaster Conservancy’s Safe Harbor Nature Preserve with their senior vice president for land protection and archaeologist, Kate Gonick. The Conservancy described the event by saying, “When we preserve land, we protect more than clean air, clean water, and biodiversity—we protect our own shared history.”

We began our expedition on Observation Road, where Gonick pointed out a hidden architectural ruin—an old root cellar. She speculated that the stone structure likely dates back to the late 1800s or early 1900s.

For those not familiar, a root cellar is a structure, usually underground used for storage of vegetables, fruits, nuts, or other foods. Its name reflects the traditional focus on root crops stored in an underground cellar, which is still often true. A wide variety of foods can be stored for weeks to months, depending on the crop and conditions. Structures like these have been vitally important in various eras and places for winter food supply.

I went back the following day and completed a LiDAR scan of the room’s interior. Here it is so you can safely experience it from the comfort of your home. Happy armchair exploring!


3 thoughts on “Armchair Explorer: Safe Harbor Nature Preserve Root Cellar

    1. I have a few close-up pictures I did not post. It appears to be a grate that might have let fresh air in. Today it’s covered with dirt. I looked outside to see if I could find that spot but there was too much debris.

  1. Lucky you! How exciting to explore and share your historical finds! My Aunt had an old house on Marticville Rd. in Pequea which had a root cellar off the kitchen. It always smelled like damp earth. There was another cellar a few steps down from the first, but we (kids) were never allowed to go down there….snakes! Further out from the house (in what is now the “yard,” there was another root cellar. During family reunions, all were warned not to park their cars in that area because the strength of the ground was not to be trusted. The house and grounds are no longer in the family, but how I wish I could explore it now!

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