The big red barn was once a staple of any drive out into the country. Traditional and non-traditional barns dotted the landscape like so many red stars on a green Milky Way. The red barn even graces the auto license plates of the Dairy State, Wisconsin.
But barns are becoming harder and harder to find as farmers build boxy metal storage sheds for their tractors and other farm equipment. Old wooden barns fall prey to the ravages of time, neglect, fire and sometimes vandalism. They're romantic, but they are relatively costly to maintain -- it can cost $100,000 to restore a barn properly. That's why most are torn down with a few converted into commercial space, tourist or community centers, or spacious housing. Sometimes the wood is salvaged for rustic picture frames.
About 15 years ago I drove thru southeastern Wisconsin gathering pictures of old barns before they fell prey to the inevitable. It is sad to have to report that these barns are gone now. One of them was obviously in the process of collapsing, as recorded in the photograph.
Barns are traditionally accompanied by a silo, a vertical storage facility that holds silage, a mix of corn and hay and other food for the cows. But barn hunting is not just a matter of sighting silos and then homing in on the barns. No, it is not always so easy as that. Sometimes the silos are long gone, and you wind up having to drive country roads to find the forgotten barns on odd corners. In what is now called exurbia, these icons of rural Americana were sinking quickly to the ground just as people were escaping the noise and taxes of the city.
These pictures are hereby submitted as a historical record of days gone by, or barns gone by, if you prefer.
You may wish to read a related article about a short documentary titled American Barn Stories, at http://minnieapolis.newsvine.com/_news/2008/01/18/1236541-american-barn-stories-a-short-but-sweet-paean-to-disappearing-rural-landmarks