25 July 2015

Old barns of Wisconsin

It seems I’m not the only photographer to develop fascinations!

During my recent trip to Wisconsin, my lovely friend and extremely talented photographer Trudey introduced me to some of hers, the first being the beauty of old barns, and I quickly became just as fixated as she is with the wonderful old farm buildings to be found throughout this farming state.

Many are decaying, some almost totally collapsed, and most are simply too expensive for their current owners to maintain or repair. Yet it is this very state of deterioration that makes them fascinating: the peeling layers of old paint and the textures in the old wooden boards; the shafts of light sifting through the holes in walls and roofs; the tendrils of greenery curling through cracks and crevices; the interesting differences in structural materials and architecture that could tell a lot about their original builders, if only I knew how to interpret them; the sense of social history and of interesting untold stories; and the lingering ghosts of past farm workers.

Trudey and I went on a road trip from her home near Green Bay to the far west of Wisconsin, to visit some of her family in the very beautiful Eagle Valley. The route should have taken about four hours’ driving but it took us nearly seven as we stopped along the way to photograph and admire many charming old barns and sheds, granaries and silos.

Left shows the detail of the barn above, and right shows more detail of the brick silo below

About two thirds of the way there it started to rain. The cloud cover was low, wreathing the hilltops with wisps of mist and reducing visibility almost to zero on the ridges of Eagle Valley. Yet, if anything, this increased the attractiveness of the barns, making them appear quite eerie and exemplifying the idea that these pieces of Wisconsin’s history are slowly fading away.

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