Southwest Iowa Barn Tour and Picnic - 2010

Baylor barn, Thurman, Iowa, will be on Iowa Barn Foundation's June barn tour

Historic barns in southwest Iowa, some in what is known as the "forgotten corner" of Iowa, were opened on an Iowa Barn Foundation area tour, Saturday and Sunday,  June 12 and 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The tour, dedicated to the preservation of Iowa"s barns, was free and opened to the public.

The Iowa Barn Foundation is an all-state, all-volunteer, non-profit group dedicated to preserving Iowa's rural heritage.  The group, founded in 1997, has raised private funds in order to give 113 matching grants to Iowa property owners for the restoration of historic barns.  This amount totals almost a million dollars which means, with the owner's match, almost two million dollars has gone into the rehabilitation of Iowa's barns.

A highlight of the weekend was a picnic on Sunday noon at the lovely Loess Hills farm of Jim and Shelda Baylor, Thurman.

On the property is a horse barn built by the family in the 1890s.  In the late 1920s, Jim's father had another barn built.  Jim remembered, "My father told me once that when he went to school one morning there was no barn, but on his return, there it was.  Well, not in its finished condition, but the sides raised with these poles that are today lying up in the loft."

Some 10 barns were on tour.  Some of the barns on tour are aged and vulnerable, but they are historic and of interest.  They all have stories to tell.    Click here to see a map of the Tour (PDF).

Since conditions change, some photos may not show the current state of a particular barn.

                  Click on a photo to enlarge it

Baylor barn

Baylor Barn, 1816 Bluff Road, Thurman (two miles south of Thurman lying across west face of Loess Hills.  Thurman is two miles east of Exit 20 on I-29).  The Baylor barn was built in the early 1890s by a crew under the ownership of Ransdell Baylor, who was born in 1850.  It is mortised and pegged -- the poles used in raising are lying in the loft.  It is 40x 60 feet and built for horses.  The barn has been beautifully maintained through the years.

Geiger barn

Geiger Barn, 1466 Bluff Road, Thurman (Barn is beside a blacktop road one mile north of Thurman) - The barn was built in the 1870s by Blanks Moody Baldwin from native walnut using wooden pegs and limestone boulders for the foundation.  At one time horse races were held on a dirt track across the road.  People gathered to attend the races and watch the owner's horse, Pluto, run.  The barn was originally painted yellow and is now red.  The barn has weathered two tornadoes and is without its cupola and weather vane.  The barn is a major area landmark.

Birkby barn

Birkby Barn, 2944 Bluff Road, Thurman, Iowa 51654 (From I-29, take the Persival exit (No. 15) and go east four miles on 200th Street (J26) which is gravel.)  Turn south on Bluff Road (Blacktop L44) and go two miles to 2944 Bluff Road.  The barn was built about 1870 as a basement horse barn with the stalls in the basement and grain bins and small equipment storage on second floor and hay mows overhead.  Three fourths of the original brick foundation was replaced in the 1920s and is vulnerable.  The barn was also damaged by a tornado in 1948 and rebuilt keeping original bins and stalls in place.

Lake barn

Lake Nursery Barn, Evergreen Street, Shenandoah (Coming from the north on Highway 18 or US 59, go east on East Ferguson to Argus Road.  Turn south until the road "T's" into East Carter which becomes Evergreen.  Turn east, and you'll see cemetery and the barn.)  This barn, built in 1870, is important to Iowa's horticultural history.  D.S. Lake moved to the area about 1870 from New Hampshire -- coming via river boat through St. Louis and then by horseback.  Lake brought with him fruit stock from New Hampshire which was used when he started the Lake Nursery.  The barn was one of the first built in Shenandoah.  Later area nurseries were influenced by Lake.  The barn, now vulnerable, is owned by the Greater Shenandoah Historic Society which hopes to restore it.  The nearby cemetery was given by the Lake family.

Hodde barn

Hodde Barn,2993 250th Avenue, Hamburg.  (Take Hamburg exit off of I 29 and go west on J 64 for 2.5 miles and then north one mile on L40.)  The 100-year-old farm was purchased by Fred Hodde after saving money earned from helping people pick corn by hand.  The farm has been home to Hoddes since then.  It is believed the barn was built in the early 1900s.


Shirley Barn, 2442 Bluff Road, Hamburg.  (Take Highway 2 exit off of I 29.  Travel east 4.5 miles to "blacktop" --L44.  Go north one mile.) Shirley barn The Shirley family has been in Fremont County since 1858.  They bought their land about 1860.  The barn was built by the family about 1940.


Kochersperger barn

Kochersperger /Allen Barn, 64094 US 59, Emerson, (four miles south of Emerson and 14 miles north of Shenandoah.)  This small, lovingly kept barn sits on beautiful land that has been in the family since 1870.  Area is hidden Iowa treasure.


White barn

White Barn, Kent, Union County.  Take Highway 34 to Clover Avenue and go south 3.5 miles to the barn.  Wonderfully nostalgic farm, with 160x90-foot barn and extensive corn crib, is another Iowa treasure.  One barn reveals particularly good craftsmanship.



Nims barn

Nims Barn, at Montgomery County Historic Society Center, Red Oak.  (From Highway 34, go north three blocks on north 4th Street past the SW Community College Building to the "T" with Ratliff Road.  Turn right.)  The barn was built in 1884 and actually moved to this site.  The historic society has been very active in preservation in the area and exemplifies what a community can do working together.

Taylor barn

Taylor County Round Barn, Bedford.  (Highways 2 and 148)  This National Register barn, built in 1907, was disassembled from a farm 20 miles away, moved to this location, and restored.  This has been a community effort.


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