Saturday, March 24, 2007


The sheer scale of the open farmland challenges man to create anything of a size significant enough to make a visual impact. I've been poking around farm properties and photographing barns for a long enough to know that even large barns and silos can be dwarfed by the land itself.

The old barn on Empire Road (since dismantled) was a very large structure. Standing in the hay loft was like being in a cathedral. If chairs were arranged in neat rows it could easily have held several hundred people.

This barn, it's farmhouse, silos and outbuildings stand back away from a very busy highway. The speed limit and its location prevent most drivers from focusing on it for more than a millisecond. It looked interesting enough for me to return one day and find a safe place to pull off the road. Walking down through the gully and across the overgrown weeds brings you closer to the structures and it's at this point that you realize the enormity of this barn.

As a photographer it's frustrating not to be able to find a way to convey its size in an image. This barn is simply on a scale that I've never seen in Illinois. The roof is gone and the upper portion of the peak has fallen inwards but my guess is that it was more than 4 stories tall. It's menacing because at some point someone has clad the entire building in corrugated metal. The thought of a tornado hitting this spot and sending all that steel airborne is chilling. The silos are the largest I've seen on a private farm property. And they also reach 4 stories or more. Four or five stories in midtown Manhattan don't mean much but out on the prairie they make quite an impression.

Maybe it doesn't look like much but trust me, this place makes you feel you're in the land of the giants.


Lori said...

When I looked at this photograph the first thing I noticed was the size of the barn and silo. There are many of both here in Kansas, but I've never seen any even close to that size. It must have been quite a structure and the talk of the community in its heyday. I would've like to have seen it then...

pablo said...

I think you're going to make 100,000.