Happy and Sad Barns – #ThursdayDoors

These are sad doors.

If you’ve followed my Thursday Doors posts, you are aware of my fondness for the large tobacco barns in Connecticut. I have featured them numerous times, in various seasons, open, closed, empty, full, covered in plastic and under repair. This week, I am featuring some very sad tobacco barn doors. These doors are the only remaining recognizable feature, other than the roof, of the barns they used to provide access to. The barns are being dismantled and destroyed.

In addition to the deep and rich topsoil, one of the things that made tobacco farming successful in the Connecticut River Valley was the easy access to transportation. Equipment and labor could be transported on the river and on the railroads and highways that followed the river’s general course. Ironically, and unfortunately, easy access to transportation, coupled with a decreasing demand for tobacco products is making the farmland around our area more valuable for warehouses than farming.

In fact, the farming operation that I have photographed for decades is now working to sell 325 acres to multiple developers. One of the tracts includes 75 acres within two miles of our house. This land has been approved for the development of an elaborate youth sports complex. That tract contained no barns, as they had been destroyed by an arson fire over a decade ago. The other, larger tract contain(ed) several of the barns most often photographed by me.

The gallery includes some photos of these barns in their present state. There is also a different barn in the gallery. I couldn’t simply fill this post with sad and lonely doors, so I added what appears to be a very happy door – one that I passed on Sunday.

Thursday Doors is a weekly blog hop sponsored by Norm Frampton. Each week, we gather (maintaining an appropriate distance, of course) at Norm’s blog and we share our doors. We enjoy looking at Norm’s doors, and the doors we choose to share. If you’d like to see or share your doors, please join us.

And…since every sad event needs a country song, I offer,

Act Naturally – The Tobacco Barn Version

They’re gonna put me in a landfill
They’re gonna make some kindling out of me
We’ll make a film about a door that’s sad and lonely
And all I gotta do is act naturally

–Apologies to Buck Owens


90 comments

  1. I loved listening to Buck Owens this sleepy morning, and I loved the photos of barns. In southern Missouri, there are many such barns – barely standing, leaning against the wind. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To be honest, Dan, I wondered how long they were going to continue growing tobacco in your area. I would imagine that the market for tobacco has been decimated in the last few decades.

    What makes me sad is that this rich farm land has been sold to developers. In the last 20ish years we’ve also been seeing this trend as farms disappear around Toronto. It’s a loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve been holding steady at about 2,000 acres since the late 90s. CT tobacco all goes toward cigar making. It’s excellent quality but Ecuador is now competing strong on price.

      This land is less than 1 mile from the Interstate highway and less than 2 miles from the cargo facility at BDL. We knew this day was coming, but it’s sad. The building they want to build will be 90’ (28m) tall 🙁

      Our topsoil in the valley can run several feet deep. In Iowa, where my brother lives, they have to recover the topsoil before they can build. I don’t think that’s the case here, although they might, do they can sell it.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes. The CT River valley was a lake bottom for several thousand years during the last ice age. An ice dam at the base of the river backed water up as far as the Canadian border. Our soil is really lake sediment.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. A moment captured in a picture is never lost. It is beautiful. When I see a very old barn I think of the moments it witnessed: the tears, the laughter, the shenanigans. And now, it life’s purpose fulfilled, it goes to it’s well earned rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Dan – sad they’re destroying those barns … guess being wooden it makes them less viable. But worse the development aspect – happens everywhere I suppose. I hope that complex doesn’t bring too much traffic near your house, or too much noise – or light impairment. Loved Buck Rogers’ song though – all the best Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hilary. They want to put a giant distribution center here – 90 feet (28m) tall. It won’t be horrible traffic, but we’ll have to edit and see. It’s so close, but it’s just over the town line, so we don’t have a say, and we’re the only residents around. The area in the next town is all light industry and retail.

      Like

  5. I never saw a barn I didn’t love, but in this case I must admit the happy barn was easier to see. A family farm a couple of miles from here that had been in their family since the 1600’s when it was granted by some dignitary in England was sold last year. They were developing it into a sports facility, then there were financial difficulties, and now there is this. So, when we drive by, it is a shadow of its former self and always makes me cringe. We grew up in an era of farms of all kinds, but not anymore. Have a good Thursday, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt like I had to include one happy barn, Judy. They tore down 11 barns last year. Once they had a desk for even more land, these four started bring dismantled. There are five more on this plot 🙁

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was glad to see your happy barn. Construction-wise it is not as impressive as the ones being torn down, but at least it is still standing, at least for now. As someone born in Boston, I don’t usually start my days with Buck Owens, though I must confess that I am familiar with the song and liked your rework of the lyrics. Perhaps I heard the Beatles version of it when I was growing up. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have always had a soft spot for barns and farmlands. Never saw a photo of a barn I didn’t love, until today. This just breaks my heart. I know development is progress, but couldn’t they turn that rich soil into growing something other than tobacco?

    I’m so glad you have your collection of photos. You should create a collage….. I bet your local library would love to have it!

    At least in the last photo the horse seems oblivious to the world around him!!

    Thanks for Buck Owens! He was one of a kind.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. It is sad. They have done other land that they are transitioning to growing hops and barely for beer. I think the offer for this land was just too good. It’s prime space for distribution.

      I have over 100 nice photos. I’ve been thinking about putting together a photo book.

      I couldn’t resist going with Buck. I wrote “sad and lonely” and that was it.

      Take care!

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  8. It’s so sad to see them coming down and to think about what is coming in their place. I’m so glad you have taken as many photos of the barns as you have. You can pull them out when you’re really missing them. Who knew you’d have images that will be historic one day?

    I’ll miss your annual Tobacco barn images too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is sad. There will still be barns on this farm, and in the surrounding towns, but I drove past these barns every day for 38 years! I’ve seen them in every imaginable state, and I can’t imagine not seeing them. It’s a shock to drive up and see right through them.

      Like

  9. This was a sad post, Dan. A sports complex. We have had so many areas clear cut and then…..nothing. It makes me both sad and mad. I love that you took so many photos over the past 35 years. We don’t have hardly any barns here, so I have always enjoyed when you posted your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. I’ll have to drive a little farther to find barns, but there are still some around. These will be missed. I’ll take the sports complex, the previous plans included a casino and a truck stop.

      Like

  10. There is a show called Barnwood Builders. They take barns like this with the siding off and put numbered tags on each piece of wood. That way they can take the barn apart and re-assemble the pieces at another site replicating the original pole beam structure. Unfortunately once it gets to the development stage this approach is not on the developer’s schedule. It is too bad that speed is a part of progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They destroyed 11 barns last year, John. Once they got to this stage, they pushed them from high on one end and collapsed the frame into the area between the support piers. Then they packed the rubble into dumpsters :(

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Dan, I remember using a tobacco barn in the fog (I think) as the feature on a blog post a few years back, featuring you. It’s always been my favorite. Sad to see their demise to new development. Barns were my favorite too in CT & Maine. (sniffles) Goodby barns. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ecuador happened. They are able to grow the same tobacco as CT for much less. We have held steady at about 2,000 acres, but it’s getting hard and harder to sell. CT tobacco is still only used for fine cigars, but the demand is drying up and now we have competition. This farm is the oldest family owned farm in CT that is still in operation. They have other fields that are still planted with tobacco and they transitioned some to growing hops, blueberries and barley, but none of those require the drying sheds.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought of that song as soon as I wrote “sad and lonely” – there are still plenty of barns around, but these were special to me. I passed them on my way to work for 38 years.

      Like

  12. I never thought I’d feel sad at the demise of the US tobacco industry, but the loss of people’s livelihoods – and beautiful barns – is sad indeed.

    I was lucky to see Buck Owens perform at his Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, CA several years before he died. He and the Buckaroos put on quite a show!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That must have been a great show!

      The tobacco farm near us is the oldest family farm in CT that is still operating. They are still growing some tobacco, as well as hops, blueberries and some grains for the craft beer makers. Still, it’s sad to see these barns destroyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You know Dan until you first posted about these places I had no idea that tobacco farming was even a thing in CT. And now it seems such a shame to me that these old barns are disappearing :-(
    As for your shots, I love the warm (morning?) light in a lot of these shots though. It adds a peaceful, almost melancholic tone to this post.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It makes me sad when land gets sold off for more buildings, but I also can’t fault farmers who work so hard and often struggle, for selling their land for enough money to retire and live well. Like Joanne, I hate seeing rich, fertile soil getting sold for something that will cover all that good earth. I also didn’t originally have any idea that tobacco was grown anywhere in the US other than in the South. Blog and learn.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is sad. Some of the farms have switched to raising other crops. In the 90s, they grew shrubs and Christmas trees. Now, some of them are growing hops, berries, grains (for craft brewers) but there’s only so much demand for other crops. I hope, given that these guys own the oldest operating farm in CT, that they find a way to reclaim the topsoil.

      Entertainment and education – our motto for the last 10 minutes ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ah, Dan, this was such a sad post for me. To say goodbye to all those barns in the name of progress and decreased tobacco well, that is just sad. Thank you for putting in the one happy farm with the two horses. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I also feel so badly for farmers who have had such a tough time of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These barns belong to the oldest operating farm in CT, Amy. It is sad to see the farming operations winding down. They’ve converted some fields to grow other crops, but this piece is almost perfect for a transportation facility. It’s proximate to the highway and the airport. At least I have years worth of pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. We used to have many more tobacco barns here in Lancaster County too. Farmers don’t grow tobacco much around here anymore. A few Amish still grow it as a cash crop. Loved your version of “Act Naturally”! :)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, no! I am so sad. It’s like remnants of important history have vanished. Is this where the new mega sports fields will be developed? Did anyone save the barns? Barnwood Builders is a great TV show. They come in and take down old barns and move them. Boy, they know their stuff. Pollyanna Jennie hopes someone saved the barns.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This field is where a distribution center will be. They did not save the barn(s) 🙁

          A couple years ago, they carefully dismantled two barns and sold the wood in 100 bd-ft bundles (for a steep price). I would have bought a smaller amount, but that was too much for me to even store.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hubby would like to know if the tobacco grown in those barns in your neck of the woods was sold as the wrapper, or as the filler for cigars. His uncle had a tobacco barn in York, PA and his tobacco was used as the wrapper.

            Perhaps a distribution center will be less noisy and congested than a sports complex. I can see why the wood on the two salvaged barns was sold in that manner.

            Like

            1. The tobacco was used for wrapper leaves. The tobacco grown in PA was the same variety. We used to have workers come here in the summer from PA. Those still coming are mostly from Jamaica these days.

              They have switched to broadleaf tobacco around here in recent years because farms in Ecuador are growing the wrapper tobacco for much less.

              We’re still getting the sports complex, but I’m not too worried about that. It’s youth soccer/tennis/volleyball, indoor and outdoor. That is, if they still move forward with the project now.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Thanks, Dan. Hubby appreciated the information. He has fond boyhood memories of his uncle’s barn. I’m getting ‘tobacco barn 101’ as I type. He’s now describing the poles used to hang the leaves. Happy Sunday!

              Liked by 1 person

  17. Loved hearing Dwight Yoakam singing with ol Buck back in the day! I was lucky to hear Buck Owens and the Buckaroos at the Mo state fair once. Me and my bestie were the tender ages of 9 and 11. I’m sure he’d sympathize wholeheartedly. Great to have so many photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Almost Famous, but for barns. I’m glad you had the chance to capture them while you could. I appreciate seeing them :)
    A youth complex, huh? I am suddenly reminded of this huge warehouse place of fun we have, it’s all the rage… let me ask the kids what it’s called — Incrediplex. Now built where farms were.

    Liked by 1 person

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