CLAYPOOL — Several months ago I was driving south of Warsaw on SR 15 up and down the gently rolling hills near Claypool. I noticed an old barn sitting fairly close to the road.
I guess you could tag me as an amateur historian — I’ve learned quite a bit about local history but there is so much more for me to learn. What struck me about the barn is how close it is to a state highway. Truthfully, there are not many barns still standing this close to a state road.
One of the most noticeable, and common, landmarks of the countryside, the older barns are vanishing from the landscape. Those who own older barns are sooner or later forced to make a decision to either keep paying taxes and for maintenance or to have the barn torn down and replaced with a new one. And modern farming equipment often won’t fit in the older barns.
With that being said, I became curious about the barn on SR 15. How old is it and why was it put so close to a road? According to property records found on the Kosciusko County GIS, the barn was built in 1910.
From previous research, I knew there has been a road in this location for a long time before it was taken into the state highway system in the 1920s. It was once known as the Hoosier Dixie Highway and prior to that, I’ve seen it referred to as the Wabash Road or the Warsaw-Claypool Road.
But in 1910, it was still a county road and would have been likely a dirt or gravel road at the time. And it would have been considered a rural route road for farmers to get to nearby markets, as well as mail delivery. Automobiles would have been quite scarce. Also in 1910, there would have been fewer, if any, restrictions on where a farmer could place a barn in relation to a road.
Duncan Campbell, a member of the board of directors for the Indiana Barn Foundation, commented on the barn’s proximity to the road. “In general, it was useful for a barn to be close to the road, just for the convenience of delivery of produce to and from the farm,” he said. “Why haul your produce across bumpy and fenced fields when you could be right on the road to market?”
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, although the right of way width for SR 15 has not significantly changed since 1931, the pavement width and the shoulder of the road have been altered through the years by repaving. So when this barn was built, it was likely not as close to the road as it is now.
See the second part to this article for more information about the style of the barn and some of the history of the property.