Old Georgia Barns

This old barn is near our home, not too far from the Columbia River in Willow Grove, Cowlitz Co., Washington.

This old barn is near our home, not too far from the Columbia River in Willow Grove, Cowlitz Co., Washington.

Even as a child, I had a fascination for old barns. I didn’t have a camera to record my memories…but I can still “see” those old structures. There were no freeways back then. We traveled on two lane state roads. These were the same roads my grandfather helped to build in the 1920s.

Sometimes our summer trips from Miami to Athens were in our car, but we often took the Greyhound bus. I always had my eyes peering closely to the window just to spot an old barn. I loved to imagine what it would have been like to live on a farm.

It was also fun to look at the words and pictures painted on the sides or roofs of the remaining barns. Today, those old paints are faded but still show the ads for tobacco, patented medicines, Coca Cola and tourist destinations.  William G. Simmonds realized these barns were fading from our landscapes. His photographs of the old structures are memorialized forever in his book and he refers to the barns as “vanishing American landmarks”.

My first encounter with a real barn could have been a catastrophe! I was about eight years old. We had gone back to Georgia for a week. My excitement could hardly be contained when I heard we were going to my cousins’ farm. Can you imagine the basket of ripe blackberries I picked?! Can you hear my screams when I saw a snake and dropped my basket?!

My attention was quickly diverted because I saw the prettiest cat going into the barn. I decided to make friends but as I reached to pet the beautiful black fluffy tail, I heard everyone shouting for me to get away. Ok, before you laugh about my ignorance,  let me remind you I was a little girl from the big city. How was I supposed to know I was getting ready to pet a skunk?!

My fascination with barns continues over 50 years later. We are fortunate to live close to a rural area in Washington State. So, I’m always ready for a ride in the country. And once again, I am peering out the window to spot an old barn!

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3 Responses to Old Georgia Barns

  1. Oh, I love old barns too! When I do my semi-annual trip up for my healing retreat, there are several along the way and I just wonder about all the stories they have inside and, sometimes, I wonder what it is that keeps them from falling down LOL.


  2. Austin Billhime(your favorite twin nephew) says:

    I LOVE OLD BARNS!!! When we go back to Pennsylvania, one of our “traditions” is to go exploring in my best friends old barn. We find new artifacts every year, and have started to restor the things we find. I remeber our old barn, and picking blackberries which we made into jelly. We had a grain shed, and I’m sure this was once in our barn too, but I enjoyed looking at the writings on the wall with different numbers and dates. It was cool to look at the family history in that wall. I wonder what they were trying to figure out, and it is cool to see the writing go from one generation to another in the form of writing and dates. I haven’t seen the wall in almost 2 years, and worry that they painted over the wall, erased the writtings, or have thrown away old tags that were nailed to the wall. I will get a picture of it next time so I won’t lose the history the wall holds.


  3. Ethan Billhime says:

    Yup, we are related Aunt Ruth. Austin pretty much sums it up. I have always been fascinated by the giants and it has been fueled by the show “American Pickers.” we had a massive family barn when we lived at the farm, and being five years old, it was rather intimidating. I can still remember inside of it, and playing in the hay. I never, as far as I k ow, got to see the whole thing because I never got the chance. October 2, 2002, massive fire destroys family barn built in 1875. Yup, that would be ours, or was ours in this case. The milk shed was destroyed by the heat, the grain shed door was charged, and the whole house siding facing the barn melted off and the winds cracked from the heat. I will send you pictures an the news paper article if you want, along with the original barn. I could tell you more about it, but I remember most looking out the window at the raining ashes and remembering the weather man saying it was supposed to rain, and it did; ashes. But enough with the depressing part, I also enjoyed picking blackbeeries and making homemade jelly. Whenever we pass one in Pennsylvania I begin to daydream about what might be hiding inside.


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