Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ghost Farm

Our cabin is up north, in an area that is heavily forested.  And in fact has always been so, with one brief exception.  The logging boom of the late 1800s clear cut the woods leaving behind an eerie landscape of stumps.  As this land was of no further use to the timber companies they were willing to sell it off cheap to anyone willing to farm it. 

And some very hardworking folks gave it their best shot in the time period of roughly 1895 to 1930.  A few fams still can be seen.  Almost none are growing crops, as the soil is really unsuited for anything but trees.  But here and there one encounters pasture land for cattle and horses.  Until recently there was a small buffalo ranch down the road.

But more often you run across the ruins of farms that did not succeed.  The latter day pioneers dynamited the stumps, heaved the rocks up into piles, plowed the thin sandy soil and hoped for the best.  Some went under quickly, others probably hung on until the Great Depression dried up credit and motivated struggling banks to call in struggling loans.

Scenes from a recent walk in the woods:
A foundation and basement sitting on a little rise.  The thinner underbrush recalling a long ago lawn.

A view from what appears to be the back of the house.  There was always a cellar for storage and for refuge from storms.  Now filled with rubbish, small trees growing up all around.

Little personal touches remain.  Here are some parts from an old wringer washer.

And here a toy train.  The slot suggests this was a bank.  I did not pick it up and shake it, for some reason I felt as if I should not disturb anything.

Out behind the house we see the remains of a car.  I would just be guessing, but 1920's or 30's vintage?  Some of the detritus here looked newer than the site.  Perhaps it was a dumping ground after it was abandoned.

Archeologists of the distant future will puzzle over the abundant bullet holes in artifacts from rural America.  Probably someone will note the local history of Chicago gangsters visiting the area (true), and write a highly entertaining and entirely wrong PhD thesis!

This vehicle was far from new when discarded.  The seat has been partially replaced with wood.
Notice how the roof has been largely covered over with some kind of riveted on metal plate.

Nearby a stove, and parts of at least one more vehicle.

For some reason I found this the most poignant artifact.  A scale.  Some farm wife in the 1920's was worried about her weight.  She lived on a lonely farm that was slowly failing.  But she still cared about her looks.  I suppose she is gone now.  It must have been a hard life, and she would have to be over the century mark by now.....

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