Monday, December 16, 2013

Disappearing Barns

I was struck again the other day as I drove into town at how many of the older barns around here are disappearing.  Just along the two concessions we drive to town, over only about 6 years, 5 (and a half) barns of 14 have been removed.  It's a big change in the landscape of the Beaver Valley region.  As the old barns aren't needed for cattle or storing hay, they are neglected and disintegrate over time, or are actively removed.

This is the 'half' barn that's left among the 14, standing forlorn along the road, a collapsing relic of a farm long ago.

This is the only example where I was smart enough to take a before picture, this one a year and a half ago when the front portion had already begun to fall in.  It only took one or two big wind storms after this to bring the front half down.  If you compare the photos carefully, you can figure out the portion that's still standing - for now.

There are also at least two older barn foundations, of barns that disappeared in the decades before we moved here.  My wife has said she'd like me to build a barn foundation in the backyard as the setting for a garden.  I'm no longer into moving rocks that size!

The barn that stood between us and the silos blew down in the local tornado of 2009.  We were here then, only a couple of miles away, and didn't even realize there had been a tornado until we heard the news.  It left a swath of destruction 36 km. long.

Just a year ago two farms along the road sold, and three barns (along with all the fencerows) were removed.  One stood in the centre of this picture behind the maple tree.  This year the fields were all planted with corn or soybeans, from one end to another.

One of the other two barns removed stood in the centre of this picture, behind the grain bin.  Even the two silos were removed here.  Now I wish I had taken some of those 'before' pictures!

And finally this barn, just around the corner from our place, came down in a severe wind storm about 3 years ago.  I took this picture and then noticed the remarkable pattern of stone blocks in the foundation.

All these barn foundations were probably built by itinerant stonemasons who knew how to cut granite and limestone boulders into rectangular blocks - an art now largely lost.  Undoubtedly the farmers provided the hard labour to support the stonemason.  Here he took the time to line up the limestone (lighter) and granite (darker) blocks to make this unique diagonal pattern.  I've never seen it elsewhere, but maybe I should start looking more closely.

Tomorrow - the five barns that are still in use or have been restored.

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  1. It's so sad to see all those old-time barns disappear. We have of them left standing in our area yet.

  2. It's sad the old barns are falling into ruin and disappearing. It is true here in the US as well. All the new construction is metal "pole barns," cheaper to build and maintenance free, but ugly. The last photo of the foundation is really interesting.

  3. I love to take photos of old barns as we travel and I agree they are disappearly too quickly.
    Great photos!

  4. Living in a rural area I also notice and photograph barns before they're gone. It's really sad to see them go. Some of them are/were such beauties. I really like the stone one in the last two photos. It's a wonder someone hasn't used the stones for something. They'd make beautiful garden structures.

  5. The foundations of the last one are indeed very unusual. The country landscape is changing very fast. These old barns are more fragile than they look.

  6. It's kinda sad to see old barns disappear.. There was so much life and history in them.. We have alot of old barns and barn structures around here too... I always feel sad when I see a barn in disrepair.

    Great post....
    Merry Christmas.

  7. The world changes around us, whether we want it to, or not. I wonder whether we should be trying to document those changes, the way you regret not capturing the barns that have fallen. It is a challenge, trying to intuit what will be gone in five years...
    Love the look at the old barns, btw!!

  8. Sadly, I have also noticed quite a few barns disappearing.

  9. It's so sad when the old barns go. And ours is going to have to join the ranks too. The main beam is rotting.

  10. So true that the old barns are disappearing, which is why it is so great when they are photographed before they disappear.

  11. I see that around here where I live too. It is kind of sad to see though they do make for good pictures!!
    New ones going up around here too though.

  12. It is sad to see the old barns falling down and disappearing. They are quite picturesque while they are in the process of going away though. That's an amazing foundation. Looking forward to seeing the restored barns.

  13. There's a lot of barns like that as well. Still many active farms going, but plenty of falling down barns.