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The Corn Crib

Updated on July 19, 2009

Back on the farm, there was always this small, wooden structure with gaps in between each sideboard. Mom and dad called it "the corn crib," not that I ever really understood what that meant. All I knew was, it was part-full of old tools, gadgets and oddities, and it was a place my brother and I enjoyed playing.

It wasn't until just recently that I started to think about that, old corn crib, and wonder... what, really, was that thing? Did it ever have any real use (other than storage), and if so... what was it used for?

The first thing I discovered were, pictures of other corn cribs... some long-gone, others still standing. Unfortunately, ours was dismantled and hauled away years ago. The pictures I came across were quite interesting. Not many looked like the one I remembered, as a child. Many were made of modern-day items, like cement. Many, too, were made of wood; however, the design of each structure varied in different ways. Some had straight walls, others had slanted walls. Some were high, off the ground... others were much lower (sometimes, sitting on the ground). So, each one was definitely unique.

Researching further, I discovered that... the corn crib dates back to before the turn of the century (1700's), with the Native Americans. As the name implies, the structure was built for the purpose of storing corn. This is the structure that they came up with.

After each harvest, the corn was brought in and put inside the crib. The reason for there being gaps in the walls/floorboards, is... so air would circulate in and around the structure, drying and preserving the corn.

One thing I found interesting, as well, was why the structure often sat up, off the ground. That was so the animals (namely squirrels, rats and raccoons) could not get to the corn. Usually, wooden blocks, and later cement, were used to do this. Some of the structures even had mesh wire in between each sideboard, so that it was still open (for the air), but further protected from animals.

I suppose, it was not an anomoly that (during my childhood) the corn crib was no longer in use... but, stored old tools, and such, instead. In the pictures I found, several of the cribs, I noticed, no longer held crops... but, "junk." I assume, the original need for the crib was no longer a necessity. There were more modern places to store corn at that time. Steel structures, like silos, were being built for this purpose. So... as man outgrew the need for the earlier farm buildings, life was given to a whole new way of farming.

I think it's important that we remember details like this. Not only, does it serve as reference for future generations, but it's a part of our history that will soon be forgotten... unless we, as prior generations, make sure it is not.


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      bonniem86 3 years ago

      I have the opportunity to get an old corn crib for a reclamation project I'm putting together on my property. It's great looking but less than 100 years old. I was trying to think of a way to re-purpose it, and have decided that it will serve well as a potting/tool shed, and as a good conversation piece. I would welcome any other suggestions.