The Iowa Barn Foundation: Helping to preserve Iowa's agricultural heritage one barn at a time.


Muscatine County Barn Tour and Picnic - 2007

Thirteen historic barns were featured on the Iowa Barn Foundation's Muscatine County Barn Tour and Picnic, Saturday, June 9, 2007 and Sunday, June 10, 2007. The barns on this free, self-guided tour were open both days between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The tour was dedicated to educating people about the importance of barn history and preservation. Many of the barn owners had interesting displays. On both days Discovery Park, a tranquil rural space and arboretum of trails and ponds next to the Muscatine County Home Barn, was open for hiking and for viewing nature up close.

The picnic, which included a catered meal, was held at the Muscatine County Home barn on Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 12:30 p.m. The cost of the picnic was $8 per adult and $4 for children.

Photos of the barns on the tour, along with their locations, are listed below:

Muscatine County Map Showing Barn Locations

Muscatine County Home Barn

Muscatine County Home Barn, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 1 on the map. Directions: Take Muscatine Highway 61 by-pass to Cedar Street exit toward town. At the first stop light, turn right off Cedar Street onto Houser Street, going south. Turn right on Harmony Lane until it ends.

The Muscatine County Home Barn, an area landmark, was scheduled to be bulldozed in 2006 when a group, led by John Haskins, launched an area-wide campaign to save it. That the historic barn remains demonstrates how preservation-minded individuals can make a difference. Representatives of the Iowa Barn Foundation were also supportive of the barn-saving effort. A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Musser Barn

Musser Barn, 3004 Lucas Street, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 2 on the map. Directions: On the corner of Lucas and Houser Streets in Muscatine-a half mile south of Muscatine County Home Barn.

The Musser barn was built about 1910 by a wealthy lumber family as a show pavilion for cattle breeding stock sales. The barn has unique open span laminated beam construction and the ground floor has 12-foot high ceilings. The barn's lower level is still in the original configuration of having exhibition pens for sales of their Oakridge Farms breeding stock. The pens had steel gates that allowed easy viewing of the animals. The gates are still in place.

In more recent history, the Albert Timm family purchased the Musser farm and used the buildings for their dairy operation for many years. The farm has been sold once again to a group that is working to establish an agricultural learning center, to be operated in conjunction with the Muscatine High School and Muscatine Community College.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Kaalberg Barn

Kaalberg Barn, 2420 Lucas Road, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 3 on the map. Directions: From Highway 61 bypass, take Lucas Street exit to west, away from town, 1/4 mi.

The turn-of-the-century Kaalberg barn has a large boiler-steel tank water works. This huge tank goes all the way up to the hay loft! The barn, with its distinctive cupola and windows, is on an acreage that is now within western city limits of Muscatine. It was purchased by the Kaalberg's about 5 years ago. Cows were milked on the barn's West side. The former milking area is now a shop. An interior wooden corn crib, with upper access doors for scooping corn in, is located on the Southeast corner. The barn has a large hay mow, with hay carrier track still in place. A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Coyner Barn

Coyner Barn, 2304 Highway 22, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 4 on the map. Directions: From the Highway 61 bypass, turn at exit to Highway 22 West, go west about 1-3/4 miles-south side of road.

Bricklayers came through Muscatine in the late 1800's and built barns and houses, including the interesting Coyner barn. This attractive brick barn is a very prominent feature on Highway 22, located a few miles West of Muscatine. In years past, dairy cows were milked in the barn. Today, it is still used to house cattle. The unique diamond designs in the brick are actually openings in the barn walls for ventilation. The farm was purchased in 1905 by Kenton Coyner's grandfather. The barn was on the farm at the time, and the Coyner's think it was built about 1890. There used to be a dirt ramp and a wooden bridge leading up to the big white sliding doors that opened up to the upper area to allow wagons with grain to be unloaded into overhead bins. Hay was stored above the grain bins. In the winter, wagons were also housed on this upper level of the barn. There is an unused stairway leading to the cupola which had shutters on all sides at one time.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Seven Springs Barn

Thompson Seven Springs Farm, 2094 Seven Springs Road, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 5 on the map. Directions: From intersection of Highway 61 bypass and Highway 22 west; go west on Highway 22 two miles to Seven Springs road. Turn south.

Note: Barn is not open to the public, but can be viewed from the road.

James and Linda Thompson now own the beautiful Seven Springs farm. The barn has double walls for warmth and still has its original Louden materials handling equipment. A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Stange Barn

Stange Barn, 2190 Highway 22, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 6 on the map. Directions: Travel about 4 miles West of Muscatine on Highway 22. Farm is on the South side of the road.

This barn, which, dates back to the 1870's, is on the Donald Stange home farm. The Stange's purchased the farm in 1943. The barn had 6 horse stalls which were removed later to make space for present day laying hens. The barn is also now home to a flock of sheep. The barn has unusual, vertical support poles that are hand-hewn oak trees, that were most likely from trees growing nearby. The oak trees were originally so thick in this area that very little grass grew beneath them, and the pastures at the time could support very few cows per acre. The oak pole main supports in this barn remain in very sturdy condition to this day. Note that the sawn cross members are bolted to the oak vertical supports. It was most likely easier to drill bolt holes into the tough oak than it was to drive spikes into the wood. A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

The old school house that Donald's children attended was moved to his farmstead after the school closed. Iowa Governor Vilsack stopped by the Stange farm for refreshments while he was walking across Iowa a few years ago, and enjoyed visiting the old school. The black board and school piano are still inside.

Stein Barn

Stein Barn, 2975 Iowa Highway 22 East, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 7 on the map. Directions: Travel 2-3 miles East of Muscatine on Highway 22.

The grandfather of Paul Stamler, the previous owner, bought this farm in 1903, and had the barn built in 1924 for $3000. The barn was built without proper braces, so the roof eventually started to sag, which required the later installation of additional braces. The lean-to at the rear of the barn was added in mid-1950's. The barn has an usually high peak, making the distance from the hay mow floor to the top very high, so the barn could hold a great amount of loose hay. A barn dance was once held in this cavernous loft. The Stamler's milked 35 cows in the barn with Surge Milkers. The milk was then cooled and then poured into milk cans. A local dairy came by each day at 9AM to pick up the cans of milk.

The Stein's beautifully restored this barn and gave it a new roof, and a professionally painted exterior. The barn is a nice complement to the fabulous home the Stein's recently built that overlooks the Mississippi river. A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

IdleNot Barn

IdleNot/Sywassink Barn, 3444 New Era Road, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 8 on the map. Directions: Take Highway 61 east of Muscatine one mile. Turn right on New Era Road; continue for 6.1 miles. Farm is on south side of road.

The Idlenot barn is on the Sywassink farm purchased in the 1880's by Joyce Schultz's great- grandfather, John Sywassink. Joyce grew up on this farm, and now is a nurse, but in years past she helped milk cows in this barn, as well as to help mow and bale hay. It is thought that this barn replaced an earlier barn that was destroyed by fire. Cows were milked in stanchions that stretched the length of barn on the east side. The hay mow on the North side (the side facing the road) went all the way to the floor for about 1/3rd of the length of the barn. On the south 2/3rd of the barn, the hay mow had a floor above stalls for up to 9 draft horses, and calf pens. A unique gutter system on the west roof is thought to be similar to what might be found on barns is certain parts of Germany.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Sywassink Barn

Sywassink Barn, 3510 New Era Road, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 9 on the map. Directions: From Muscatine, take Highway 61 east one mile. Turn right onto New Era Road and continue for 6.6 miles. Farm is on south side of road.

The turn-of-the-century Sywassink barn is still in use today. It is a basement barn, and still houses stock cows and calves below the hay mow level. The driveway up to the haymow level is still in place and used. Storage bins for oats and corn were on the hay mow level, and had discharge chutes down into the lower livestock level. In earlier days, cows were milked on the west side in the lean-to addition. Mules were used for field work at one time.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Petersen Barn

Petersen Barn, 1410 Yancy, Stockton, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 10 on the map. Directions: From Muscatine go east on Highway 61 ten miles-(or from Blue Grass, go west on Highway 61 three miles)-to Y 30 (Western Avenue). Go north on Y 30 to 150th Street and turn east for 1.5 miles to Yancy. Go north on Yancy one mile to farm on left. ( Or, from Stockton take Y30 south to 135th and go one mile east. Turn south on Yancy.)

This century farm has been in the Petersen family since the 1850's, and for the last three generations has passed down from mother to daughter, which is unusual for an Iowa farm. This side of the family has its roots in the Schleswig-Holstein dairy area of Northern Germany. The Petersen's presently milk 100 cows.

In 1915, a spark from a threshing machine started a fire which took all of the buildings, except the house, and destroyed the crops in the surrounding fields on both sides of the roads. The Petersen's rebuilt from that fire, but in 1943 there was another fire during the bitter winter when someone tried to thaw a frozen water pipe with a blow torch. Twenty four hours later a lingering spark was fanned into a blaze by the wind, and again all the buildings except the house were lost.

The Petersen's didn't rebuild immediately because it was during the war and everything was expensive and scarce. Finally in 1945 the decision was made to rebuild, but this time all the walls of the barn, corn crib, and two hog buildings were made from fireproof masonry. The roofs were of fire retardant asbestos shingles. The barn's haymow floor is poured concrete, which has to be very rare. Big steel I-beams support the tremendous weight of the floor. Only the roof rafters and doors were of wood.

The round masonry crib was unique due to its great height and capacity compared to other round cribs built in Iowa, and also for its interior grain bin design. Ear corn was stored on the outside circumference going all the way to the rafters, with grain bins inside providing a large amount of overhead storage. You would think that the Petersen's would be all set by now...but then a tornado came along and tried to twist the upper part of the crib off. Luckily the crib was half full of corn, which saved the building, but much of the top of the structure was nevertheless shifted around 2 to 3 degrees. If the crib had been empty, it probably would have been completely blown away.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Steve Brown Barn

Steve Brown Barn, 1246 Eliason Av., West Liberty, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 11 on the map. Directions: Take F62 west from West Liberty one mile to Eliason Av. Then go 1/4 mile south to Brown farm on right.

The exterior of the Steve Brown barn might be simple, but inside is a very interesting example of 1902-vintage state-of-the-art architecture. Inside the barn is a bucket elevator and a device to unload grain wagons into interior grain bins. The large haymow is impressive and there is a complicated framework holding up the big roof and the overhead haytrack is still in place. Hay wagons with loose hay came into the barn and the hay went up to the mow through an interior opening in the ceiling at that part of the barn. There is a lot of barn graffiti that is on many of the doors, and is a bit of history in itself. The lower floor where the livestock is brick, which is very unusual for a barn. Many of the basement livestock stalls are still intact. The foundation is of large limestone rocks.

The barn presents a very large surface area to winds, which were taking their toll on this old barn, causing it to lean. Steve Brown installed a series of cables on it to straighten the barn, and installed a steel roof and siding to save the barn from rain. Steve says he didn't restore this barn, but he rescued it. Without his recent efforts it surely would have been gone by now.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Corriell Barn

Corriell Barn, 1541 Kelly Avenue, Atalissa, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 12 on the map. Directions: From Atalissa, take Highway 6 to X46 (Kelly Avenue) south to farm. Or, from Muscatine Highway 61 by pass, exit to X-54/Mulberry Avenue, north to F-70, turn left (west) on F-70 to Kelly, left (south) on Kelley to farm on east side of road.

The Corriell farmstead is at the end of a long lane. This farm came into the Corriell family in 1907, and 2007 marks 100 years of ownership by them. Wayne Corriell is very proud of this farm's heritage. Everything on this farm is very well taken care of. There are about 21 buildings on the farm. The earliest is a barn that dates back to the 1870's when it was a house at that time. All the overhead wiring between buildings has recently been put underground. A replacement for the original Aermotor windmill has recently been placed on the old tower. There is a scale house that is still used, that dates back to the early 1900's.

A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

Pittman Barn

Betty Pittman Barn, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine County). Barn 13 on the map. Directions: From Muscatine take Hwy 61 bypass to Hershey Street exit. Turn west onto Hershey which becomes G28. Go 11 miles west on G28 to Cranston Road "T". Turn south and go 1.5 miles to "T" and farm.

The Betty Pittman barn is believed to be one of the oldest standing in the county. A photo of the barn, taken by Anton Vanicek, is shown on the right (click the photo to enlarge it).

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