Monday, April 20, 2015

Forgotten Iowa: Part 1

One of the things that are rapidly disappearing in rural America are barns. In my youth the countryside was full of them and now decades later they are almost all gone, replaced by their metal sheathed cousin called the pole building. There are many good reasons why the barn has disappeared but I am saddened none the less of their demise. A comment on another blog that I read got me to thinking about this sad state of affairs and since then, I have been noticing the carcasses of barns that are still standing here and there. I find myself staring at them imagining them in their glory days while appreciating the beauty of them as they return to the earth they sprang from. I finally took a camera along on a recent small road trip I made and photographed a few of them for posterity.

The top photograph isn't a barn but it was near the barn seen above, both now lost to the woods just to the east of Iowaville mentioned in my last post. The small barn below is a little bit further down the road. Judging from the size of the tree in the middle of the doorway, it hasn't been used in 50 or 60 years, perhaps longer. I am amazed at all the barns like the one below that are the sole survivors of a long ago homestead. The houses and other assorted outbuildings have long since disappeared but the barns are often still standing. Perhaps they were built of stronger materials to withstand the loads of crops, livestock and machinery that were stored inside. Or perhaps they were still utilized long after the house and other outbuildings had served their purpose and so were cared for just a little bit longer.


sage said...

Wasn't the purpose of the barn primarily to store loose hair (ie, not bailed) that was kept up in the rafters and pitched down into the stalls?

Michigan had a LOT of barns, but even there they are falling down.

Ed said...

Sage - Many of these vintage barns had mows for storing loose hay. I don't think either of the two barns here were designed for that though. Loose hay barns often had a roof that overhung the end quite a ways for the grappling hook to hang from and haul the hay from the wagon to the mow. I'm guessing these were for storage of equipment and/or livestock.

warren said...

My uncle had one of those old barns that was built int he late didn't have nails in the original frame build but was assembled with wooden pegs. Outer boards were nailed on of course. Anyhow, it was a magical place to explore and I never came away from an adventure without finding some new piece of old equipment from who knows when...stuff he probably even had forgotten about or never knew was in there. Sadly it was destroyed by a tornado and he replaced it with a pole barn.