Backroad Barns: House Barns, Oval Barns and Round Barns

Enjoy Bob Kisken's pictures of barns from America's back roads, a documentation of the many styles and functions of barns from America's past.

| October 2008

Built to last a lifetime and longer, the barn is an enduring reminder of a way of life now largely gone. The barn of the mind's eye is an equally familiar icon: a simple red box with roof and white trim. But roam the countryside - like Bob Kisken does, armed with a camera - and you're quickly reminded that barns come in as many variations as Heinz pickles once did.

Topped by hand-carved cupolas, with walls built of glacier-driven fieldstone or leftover stovewood, painted red, white or clad in a utilitarian, protective coating of spent oil, or perhaps bare of paint altogether, these backroad barns show the resourcefulness of the American farmer of 100 years ago. Adorned with neither bells nor whistles, these barns were constructed to be functional, long-lived and bargain-priced.

The melting pot that poured over America splashed onto barns as well. German log barns were common in the upper Midwest; barns crafted by Finns showcased that nation's construction excellence. Agriculture was a chorus of many voices: Tobacco growers' needs differed from those of the dairyman, who needed functionality entirely different from that sought by the rancher or grain farmer.

Most barns were constructed with little thought given to their impact on the farmstead's eye appeal. But the barn soon became the crown jewel of the spread; ironically, today the barn is often the sole survivor of the farmstead. Well built and maintained, it endures for decades, offering testimony in form and function.

Retired educator Bob Kisken has lived in South Dakota and Wyoming in recent years. Contact him at


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265