Photo Gallery: A selection of Montana’s tumbledown barns

Like a lot of other people, I was impressed with “Hand Raised: The Barns of Montana,” which was published in 2012 by the Montana Historical Society Press.

It is full of superb photos by Tom Ferris and great stories by Christine Brown and Chere Jiusto and it features an amazing variety of barn styles from all over the state.

The only thing it lacked, in my humble, uninformed, completely amateurish opinion, was more pictures of tumbledown barns. Much as I like grand old barns in tip-top condition, there is something about a deteriorating barn—sometimes to the point of being hardly recognizable as a barn—that I find really compelling.

Barns in disrepair, barns falling in on themselves, barns that haven’t been used for years or even decades—these buildings have stories to tell. The stories aren’t always sad, but you can bet they’re all poignant, having to do with wild hopes and shipwrecked dreams, bad weather, fluctuations in the agricultural economy, family squabbles and all the garden-variety tragedies like fires, flood and drought.

So I made a point, during travels in the last six or seven months, of photographing these sorts of barns when I encountered them. My only rule was that they had to be abandoned, or to look so, since in some cases I really had no way of knowing.

I wish my travels had been more extensive, but this will have to do for now. I’ll continue to keep an eye peeled. I’m guessing there are a few more old barns out there.

Leave a Reply