Close your eyes and imagine a picturesque barn. One that is the home to horses that your grandpa uses to farm with and maybe a few that he rides to check the cattle. A loft full of hay bales to feed the cattle. A mama cat and her kittens slurping up the milk after the cows had their morning milking. An area for those sick cattle to be nursed back to health. When we ask our parents and grandparents generation, this is what they will tend to remember. There is a beautiful big red barn located a stone’s throw from Carlton, Kansas that holds those same memories.
Ninety-year-old Leon Hahn remembers a time when those big, beautiful barns could be seen on most farms. Now, they are a rarity, something that has been replaced by a steel shed with a lot of workspace for the farmers. Something that doesn’t stand the test of time like those original 50 foot plus size barns. A barn where you could run around in the hay loft with your friends. A barn where neighbors, dressed in their best attire, would gather for a dance on a Saturday night. A barn, that sadly enough, is a dying breed.
Located on Highway 4 and nestled between Carlton and Gypsum, Kansas is a big red barn just as the one you imagined earlier. This big red barn will make you stop and take a second, even a third look. This big red barn is nothing short of amazing. It was built in a time when craftsmanship meant something. And, 104 years later, it still takes your breath away.
Built in 1917 by Mr. Monick from Hope, Kansas for Enoch Eliason, the barn has been owned by the Leon and Jean Hahn family since 1964. The original barn, which began its life in 1915, lost out to a Kansas lightning storm before it was complete. The Eliason family still wanted a barn and what Mr. Monick gave them became so much more. The barn, once home to livestock and hay, is now home to items that the Hahn family need here and there on their day-to-day farming and cattle operation.
Leon has painted the barn five to six times since he took over the ownership in 1964, with the last time being in 2017. He admitted that he purchased a bucket truck and that has saved him from having to climb a ladder. He and his wife, Jean rented the farm from the Eliason family beginning in 1957 and seven years later, they purchased it. The barn, which is 64-feet by 65-feet, was a wonderful plus when purchasing this property. The original wood shingles were still on the barn when they bought it. Leon replaced them with asphalt shingles in 1964 and by 1987 he put on a tin roof.
When the Eliason family owned it, they built a false floor in the hay mount with slots and a fan that blew chopped hay, something that didn’t last very long. The family now uses the loft to store small hay bales, an old ringer washer and an array of other necessities that a farmer/stockman will need. At one time, the main floor of the farm could house 18 to 19 horses. Where the feed bunks are now located were once horse stalls. The manger from the team of horses that Enoch Eliason used to farm with, is still part of the barn, a wonderful piece of history. Old mineral feeders, lumber from old buildings and a stock tank are also located on the main floor. Two old refrigerators that were once used to store medicine for sick cattle are now used for storage. Leon proudly showed off the saddles, one that belonged to Enoch Eliason and one that belonged to Leon’s father, Carl Hahn. Barn swallows, about thirty to forty of them, make their home in the barn every year. They come in at and go out at about the same time each year.
Leon and Jean Hahn are proud of what they have built. Their son, Randy and three grandsons, Jason, Steve and Ryan, also live near by and farm. Leon knows that one day the barn will be passed down to them and he is certain that they all have the same love and care for that masterpiece as he does. Maybe Ryan’s son, Conley, will be able to walk in and out of the same barn one day, the same one that his dad, grandpa and great grandpa have done so many times.
If you are out on a Sunday drive and happen to find yourself driving west of Elmo on Highway 4, keep going until you feast your eyes on this beautiful big red barn. Think about the days gone by when barns looked exactly like this. When they were the most glorious things you would see. When they were home to your 4-H steer and your sister’s horse. When they were a gathering place for friends and family.