Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Harvest of Barns: the Park barn (off the beaten path)

Here's a place that few visitors have ever been, the Park farm.

I really enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of Antietam National Battlefield. Often, folks who read my blog comment that they really appreciate the inside views of these less accessible places. They'll certainly like this entry.

Over the last dozen years the park has grown by nearly 50%. In the overall history of the park this represents an explosion of growth. As area farmers retire the park makes every effort to purchase and restore the land and historic buildings. This decade of growth has brought some pretty interesting buildings back into the context of the battlefield. At the time of the battle, the Park family farmed just north of the Boonsboro Pike on the banks of Antietam creek.

Here's a glimpse.

An example of "the road less travelled", this lane comes up from the Antietam flood plain, the Park farm's back forty.

Situated not quite a half mile east of the observation tower, the Park barn is in pretty good condition.

The barn has the typical attached corncrib and pull-thru to the barnyard beyond. Although the barn is original to the time of the battle the corncrib and wagon shelter were probably added in the years following the war.

No surprises in the floorplan, Hay and machinery storage on top...

(nicely ventilated)

...and cows below,

though, I think its been quite some time since the last cow went down this chute.

This plant,
"stinging nettle" has replaced the cows in that barnyard.

Stinging nettle is the bane of hikers who brush up against it. The pain is intense and instantaneous. This closer look shows why.

Thousands of tiny, glass-like, hollow barbs cover the plant. Some of the barbs are filled with a chemical that causes pain, other barbs contain a chemical that acts as an intensifier for that first chemical. This is one spiteful plant!

Effects last between twelve and 24 hours (by the way, for me, it was about twelve).

This old mule barn is a real 'fixer-upper".

But that fixing happens.

As time, and funds, become avbailable, historically significant buildings, like this summer kitchen in the yard of the Park House, get the restoration work that will save them from further deterioration and preserve them for generations of visitors.

I'll check back from time to time to watch the progress.

Best wishes from the barnyard,

Ranger Mannie

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