Building A Corn Crib From 1915

When Daryl Dempsey decided to build a corn crib, he figured what was good enough for his grandfather was good enough for him. Using a textbook from his grandfather's college days, he took a 1915 plan and put it to work in a new century.
Leslie McManus
May 2008
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Daryl Dempsey's new old-style corn crib, complete with elevator and a load of corn. "Many corn cribs can still be found like this today in Ohio," he says, "but few are still used, and I doubt you'll find a newer one than mine." (Image courtesy of Daryl Dempsey.)

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Corn crib modeled on 1915 plans

When Daryl Dempsey decided to build a corn crib, he decided what was good enough for his grandfather was good enough for him. Using a textbook from his grandfather's college days, he took a plan from 1915 and put it to work in a new century. "I took the basic design of the then-modern corn crib and beefed it up to meet my modern-day needs," he says.

The textbook, Agricultural Drawing and the Design of Farm Structures, was authored by Ohio State University professors Thomas E. French and Frederick W. Ives. Published in 1915, it offered a corn crib design said to thwart rats, mice and birds, long the scourge of such facilities.

Daryl's desire for a vintage corn crib is rooted in more than nostalgia. "I raise beef cattle and prefer to feed corn cob meal because the cob is a good source of roughage for the ruminate digestive system," he says. "Harvesting corn on the ear is a lot more labor-intensive than shelling it with a combine, but it makes better feed for cattle and I don't have to buy gas or electricity to dry it. Mother Nature and my crib take care of that."

The cribs in his structure are 40 feet long and 8 feet wide, with a 20-foot drive-through. Daryl opted to use treated pine posts (guard rail posts) for the foundation rather than the concrete suggested in the book. The posts were placed on 4-foot centers. Two 20-feet-by-6-inch-by-6-inch beams were put down on each row of posts and closely followed by 8-feet-by-3-inch-by-10-inch floor joists on 16-inch centers. The double floor was made from 1-by-10-inch boards.

The upright poles are 4 inch square. The outside poles are 13 1/2 inches and the inside poles are 20 inches in length. These were fastened with 1/2-inch carriage bolts to the floor joists. "I began to wonder if I had built it too big when we raised the first 20-foot pole into the air," Daryl says. "Twenty feet looks a long way up when you are standing on the ground holding the pole in the air!" The rafters were 2 inches by 6 inches and 14 feet and 16 feet long. The length of the roof on one side is 26 feet, giving it a 2-foot overhang. Daryl used scissor trusses on the inside rafters and doubled them. "It has to be strong," he says. "I think you could set a locomotive on top of it!"

The slats on the side are 1-1/2 by 3 inches in varying lengths. "I attached the slats with 3-inch deck screws, and it took about $600 worth," Daryl says. "The crib has about $800 worth of carriage bolts and lag screws in it."

Daryl designed the crib so he could fill it with his elevator from the inside. "To accomplish that, I had to go with a 10/12 pitch for the roof," he says. "That makes the center peak of the crib right around 30 feet." He has three doors on the inside and one on each end of both cribs. He also made four doors on each crib on the inside to grind corn from.

All of the lumber for the crib was cut from poplar grown on Daryl's farm. "An Amish neighbor sawed it for me with a band mill," he says. The crib has about 24,500 feet of lumber in it and will hold approximately 3,500 bushels of ear corn. "Even though we were terribly dry in the summer of 2007, I had no trouble filling it full," he says.

For more information: Daryl Dempsey, 214 Dempsey Road, Oak Hill, OH  45656; (740) 682-6717. 

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