Thursday, October 28, 2010

Old Tobacco Barns (repost)

The old tobacco barns that dot the landscape in our county sometimes puzzle uninformed visitors who remember snug red New England barns or massive white-boarded Midwestern structures. The visitors laugh and shake their heads and go back home to tell their friends about the ignorant hillbillies of Appalachia -- too shiftless to make a barn that'll keep the weather out. Sometimes they assume that once there was chinking between the logs and the present generation hasn't bothered to repair it. But they're wrong on both counts.

These beautiful old silvery-gray buildings were meant to let the air in -- built specifically to air-cure burley tobacco, at one time the major crop in our county. Inside the barns, stout tier poles stretch from end to end, four or five or more tiers high. When the tobacco was harvested, the stalks of the whole tobacco plants would be impaled on tobacco sticks -- five plants per stick. Then these sticks would be hung from the tier poles, rank after rank of wilting yellow-green leaves till the barn was full. From September till November the leaves would cure in the mountain air, their tarnished chartreuse hue giving way eventually to a rich golden brown that said the leaves were ready to be stripped from the stalks, sorted and graded, and taken to market.

Proud old barns, built right for the job they did.
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10 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Vicki -- what a great old barn in your photo. Barns and outbuildings are such a fascinating topic. Thanks -- barbara

R. Burnett Baker said...

Posts like this lend much needed knowledge to a society that is losing it's perspective on the past (and present). I've learned something new tonight, yet again!

Rick

Joan said...

I would have presumed the gaps were once filled.. how interesting to learn the real reason. A telling lesson never to make assumptions. You teach us so much vicki. Wonderful.

Marilyn said...

What a wonderful old barn and it's so interesting to read of it's history and use.

Merisi said...

Gorgeous image of a proud structure. I am the granddaughter of a master carpenter and love anything that looks as if he could have built it. I hope somebody rescues this proud old barn, before it falls apart.

Too bad for those visitors who laugh and shake their heads! Maybe they'd be better off traveling to Las Vegas? ;-)

Brian Miller said...

lovely...old barns are so cool...we have some life this nearby and hike there occassionally with teh boys...

My Carolina Kitchen said...

We still have tobacco barns where we live also and they are beginning to look sadder and lonelier by the day. I almost cry though when one is torn down. Someday they will all be gone and lost forever. Very sad to me.

Thank you for their history. I'll make sure I bookmark it.
Sam

Star said...

It is a shame to lose these wonderful old artefacts. I love the rustic, rural look and so unique too.
Blessings Star

Suz said...

ah..America the beautiful

Tipper said...

Duh! Something I've never thought to explain to people-but I'm glad you did : )