Historic Maasdam Barns at the Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm
The year 2005 has been declared the "Year of the Barn". It seems appropriate that renovation is in order for the horse barns of the Evergreen Ridge Stock Farm, so named by J.G. Maasdam, when he bought the farm in 1910 from prominent local wagon manufacturer Ellsworth Turney. In recent years it has been known as the Glenn Gorman Farm. The Farm is located about one mile south of Fairfield, on the west side of Highway 1, near the site of the projected Highway 34 bypass.
State law mandates that before any new highway construction can begin, there shall be an archaeological and historical assessment of the area. Of historical significance is that Maasdam was a prominent importer and breeder of draft horses, which powered the improving farm equipment. The survey found this farmstead to be eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Approximately six acres, including the barns, have been transferred to Jefferson County. The County Supervisors have appointed a barn committee and they are starting much-needed repairs.
Another factor of importance was that the horse buildings are equipped with Louden overhead, monorail hay carriers. The Louden Company in Fairfield developed and manufactured the first overhead monorail conveyor system. The system lifted the hay from a wagon, carried the hay into the barn, and deposited it throughout the barn's large hay mow.
The overhead rail system made possible the storage, under roof, of large amounts of winter livestock feed, which would have been very difficult by hand. The development of the Louden system coincided with the invention of barbed wire which confined grazing animals in large areas, compared with rail fences, which usually were used to just keep free-ranging animals out of gardens and so on.
The rail system is now used throughout the world in agriculture and industry, but was first used outside agriculture during WWI in a munitions factory. Louden Company earned the government "E" for excellence for their monorail system used in the atomic bomb manufacture in WWII. Among others, Boeing used the system in their B-29 factory.
Also tying things together in this era of rapidly changing agriculture were the inventions of the moldboard plow, reaper, coming of railroads and improved sawmills.
McCormick Reaper - 1831
John Deere Plow - 1837
Circular Saw - 1840
Railroad to Fairfield - 1858
Louden Hay Carrier - 1867
Barbed Wire Fencing - 1873
The highway 34 bypass will furnish easy access to the historical area and it is hoped it will serve as an interesting, worthwhile educational point of entry to the Jefferson County community. The Fairfield Loop Trail for bicycles and walkers will pass through the Farm Stead.
The Barn Committee is asking for donations to supplement grants it might obtain.
Please send your tax-deductible donation to:
Maasdam Barns Preservation Committee
% Jefferson County Supervisors
51 W Briggs Ave
Fairfield, IA 52556
Submitted by Keith Shafer, May 2005