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Exploring the Sandusky County Park District

This Old Barn: The northwest Ohio park district offers Creek Bend Farm and Wilson Nature Center.

Sandusky County Park District has a gem that is a must-see — and a prime candidate for a one-tank road trip. Creek Bend Farm and Wilson Nature Center are at 720 S. Main St. in Lindsey, Ohio. Here (and elsewhere), the park district has multiple events, activities and many acres to explore and enjoy by hiking, biking or horseback riding.

Friends of Ohio Barns met at the farm and nature center on a nice fall Saturday in September. We were met by Deb Nofzinger, the program supervisor. She graciously opened the barns and let us wander while listening to what our barn expert, Ric Beck, had to say about the construction and use of these amazing structures.

Creek Bend Farm, Wilson Nature Center

Walking into the first barn and looking up reveals a hay track under the peak of the roof, and a most unusual and hefty support system for the two large cupolas. A semi-principal rafter system, of 8-by-8-inch timbers, runs from the purlin plates to the peak of the roof on either side of each cupola. In the center of the barn between the two driveways is a chamfered post, resulting in a perfect octagon. Some folks say it’s “just for pretty,” but an old farmer will tell you it is to protect the animals from injuring themselves on sharp corners. Around the late 1940s or early 1950s, one end of the barn was converted into stanchions for a small dairy operation, and the block milk house was added on the front.

Also, open for viewing at the end of the lane is a brick house that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house once belonged to Fran and Bob Roush and is furnished in the period of the late 1800s. The Roush family had farmed the land since the mid-1800s, and Bob Roush was a former Sandusky County commissioner.

Behind the house is the Wilson Nature Center. If you visit, be sure to step inside and say hi to Nibbles the rabbit. Take time to view all the exhibits and enjoy the creek from the rear deck.

White Star Park barn

There’s more to the county park district. As a group, we then hopped into our respective cars and drove to the raised barn at White Star Park, also part of the park district. The barn, though raised to provide a basement, has no direct access to the mow floor. So, at first sight, this barn seemed to be unremarkable as we only had access to the basement level. The visible construction was laminated plank.

Then, Deb pointed out the ladder to the mow, and Ric and several of the men ascended the ladder to find the barn told an entirely different story. Yes, the mow floor was new and of plank construction, and had also been lowered by 2 feet. But, after closer inspection of the hay mow, it was clear to Ric: All age indicators proved this was a very significant barn built prior to the Civil War. A big surprise was the modification of the roof from a gable to a gambrel roof sometime around the turn of the 20th century. In so doing, great care was taken to preserve the original pole rafters to be reused in construction of the new-style gambrel roof.

Before we left the White Star Park barn, we received a surprise visit from a small wagon train. Three covered wagons pulled by pairs of draft horses pulled into the barnyard for a rest on their weekly walkabout. We had time to visit with the “pioneers,” and they demonstrated how the wagons were outfitted for use “on the trail.”

Sandusky County Fairgrounds barn

Back in our cars once again, we took off for our last barn of the day: a nice, ornate little ground barn built in 1884 on land purchased to give the Sandusky County Fair a permanent home. The barn has a hip-on-gable roof with enclosed gable ends. There are shuttered windows instead of louvers.

The barn is used for displays during the fair but is available for rent at other times of the year. It is the only state of Ohio bicentennial barn on a county fairgrounds. The state chose 88 Ohio barns — one per Ohio county — to have the state bicentennial logo painted on it to celebrate Ohio’s 1803 statehood in 2003. On this barn, the logo is painted on the roof.

Friends of Ohio Barns would like to invite everyone to the 21st annual Barn Tour and Conference slated for Preble County in April. To stay informed of upcoming Friends of Ohio Barns events, articles of interest about historical barns and their plight to survive, become an FOB member and receive the Old Barn Post newsletter four times a year, sent directly to your mailbox by getting in touch with me at the address below.

Gray, the “Barn Lady,” is now scheduling barn talks for 2020. She writes from Mount Vernon, Ohio. Call or email Gray today to get your local group, library, or organization on the calendar at 740-263-1369 or barnconsultant@yahoo.com.

TAGS: Buildings
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