Barns of Hardin County
Originally published in the Fall 2003 issue of the Iowa Barn Foundation Magazine.
Written by Ken Starek, Ackley photographer, "barnologist", and Hardin County representative to the Iowa Barn Foundation. Ken travels the byways of Iowa seeking out remarkable barns to photograph. He spent weeks searching the hills and prairies of his own pastoral central Iowa county for barns to photograph and share with us.
The Jefferson Highway barn was named for the famous old road it sits next to south of Hubbard. There is decorative woodwork on the split haymow doors on the south side of the barn. There is a ground level walk in door on the east side. A decorative "V" shape of overlapping boards is on the gable end below the windows. The unusual windows have nine panes of glass.
The Harry Ryken barn has airplane wings painted on the south peak of the barn to celebrate Ryken's role as a pilot. The center section was built of post, beam, and pegged construction in the 1870's. Attached sheds were built at a later date. The barn is located west of Ackley and is visible from D-15 and 11645 U Avenue.
Iowa State Training School barns are important although the history is sketchy. The main barn is 110 feet long by 40 feet wide and split into two sections with an alley running the length of the barn. The 25-foot extension on the north contained vocational agriculture classroom, feed rooms, offices, and possibly a milk room. The smaller barn is 32 feet by 65 feet and has some original hardware and pen partitions. To view these barns, go to the Eldora /New Providence High School baseball diamond and look to the southwest. You can visit the barns by signing in as a guest at the training school.
Eagle City barn, a large and stunning barn, was built on a beautiful and tranquil bluff above the Iowa River and the little town of Eagle City which died out when the stage lines disbanded and the railroad bypassed it. A drive-through haymow has a row of single glass pane windows just above the large doors. Basement walls are of native limestone. Cattle stanchions and pens faced a center feeding alley. The barn, located at 28536 160th Street, is owned by Dr. and Mrs. Ken Groninga.
Mural barn across from the Eagle City barn has a mural on the haymow door illustrating canoeing on the Iowa River. It is believed the mural was painted some 30 years ago. The barn's boards are red; the bats white.
Palisades Barn was built in 1910 and got its name from limestone formations on the other side of the Iowa River, now submerged by a dam. The original farm went to the river's edge. The timber frame barn originally had Bliss K. Hall lettered on an arch above the 1910. The barn, owned by Russ and Virginia Schneider, is at 24228 Riverside Road, Iowa Falls.
Richtsmeier barn has been in the same family for three generations. It is now owned by Joe and Julie Richtsmeier. It is of hollow clay tile construction. The haymow floor is hardwood. The barn was built in 1935 to replace a barn that burned after being struck by lightning. The barn is equipped with Iowa-based Clay Manufacturing windows, hardware, and ventilators. The barn is located at 27134 D-15, west of Ackley.
Jones barn is unique as there are three gables in the west roof, each with a window. Beneath each gable is a granary with chutes leading to the basement. There are horse stalls and dairy stanchions in the basement with an alley separating them. The barn is at 24767 D-15, east of Iowa Falls.
Hackbarth barns sit near the old stagecoach trail where ruts can still be seen. One barn was built in 1864 to house horses for the stagecoach stop. A pegged post and beam barn, it has uneven lengths and widths of sheeting probably from a local sawmill. The hay trolley ran on a beam rather than a steel track. The stone walls are two feet thick. When the east wall tipped out in the 1950's and the west wall tipped in later, they were removed and replaced with metal over stud framing. A newer barn is used to farrow sows. Ed and Michelle Hackbarth own the barns at 14768 155th Street.
Slayton Round barn is one of 16 barns built with hollow clay tile from Johnson Brother's Clay Works, Fort Dodge. Louden Manufacturing, Fairfield, furnished the equipment including an overhead rail for manure litter. It has a three-way switch allowing the carrier to go to the dairy stanchions, the horse stalls, or calf pens. The rail also had a switch to allow the trolley of hay to be directed left or right by a system of ropes and pulleys. The barn is a restoration project of the Hardin County Preservation Commission.
Hardin County Farm Museum barn, 203 North Washington Street, Eldora, was built in the 1930's and housed 50 Guernsey cows that required four people to milk them by hand twice a day. For a short time, the farm had its own bottling works, and milk was delivered to Eldora residents. This type of Gothic arch barn, with its open haymow, held large amounts of hay and was the last word in barn construction.