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Mason County Memories

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Barn Tour # 2 History column 201 Dave Petersen We are rapidly coming up to the date of the Barns and Byways Tour of eight Historic barns on Conrad Road on October 11th. It's a day of activities that everyone with a love for these old structures should put on their calendar. There is something about an old barn that gets under your skin, I remember a few times when we went out to friends of our parents and this city kid got to play in the barn. The first time I was ever in a barn I instinctively knew that it was a special place, the huge beams, you could tell someone crafted them, the doweled joints, the smell of the hay and the animals. I really didn't want to leave when called to go home. For a few hours barns along Conrad Road will be open for your inspections, and fun too. The Rural Glen Farm is owned by Bob and Ann Conrad, and this farm has been in the Conrad family for over 100 years having been first tilled by John Jacob Conrad in the 1880's. The farm consists of 180 acres and includes Chinnery's Rollway. The Rollway is a steep bluff over the Pere Marquette River that was used by the 19th Century loggers to roll logs down to the river from. Once in the river they were pushed downstream by the currents and the men who literally herded logs to the sawmills on Pere Marquette Lake. Ann tells me that everyone tries to put an "a" where its not supposed to go, that rollway, not rollaway is the correct term. Conrad Road as you can well guess was named for the Conrad's after the name was changed from River Road in the late 1950's. When Bob Conrad returned from the service he was not interested in farming, he sought and found a job as a mechanic at the Ford dealer in Scottville. It was not until he asked for and was denied a raise from his employer that he decided that he would give farming a try. Like many small farmers of the times Bob had a Dairy milking operation that boasted 34 cows, the farm and the barn has been in operation through 6 generations of the Conrad family. Pete Conrad, has taken over the farming operations and is currently using the barn to house the equipment that he uses for Asparagus, Chestnuts, Corn, Beans and Wheat crops. That barn and others on Conrad Road are unlike many others in that it has a Gable end roof that was more common amongst the German and English. The best way I can describe a gable end is that it is the generally a straight sloped triangular shape, if you have Internet access take a look at the house of seven gables. The Gambrel roof has two slopes, a short one at the top of the roof going down at a shallow angle and the second slope going down at a steep angle. Bob and Ann raised four kids on the farm and has a lot of memories, "I remember when I was 12 years old and used a team of four horses to plow the fields here, then in the fall the threshing crews would come for the harvest, the meals were served on a large wooden table (that we still have). One of the funnier stories that Bob recalls was one day when his wife Ann was playing the organ. "Ann was playing so intently that she had not noticed the cows which had gotten out of the barn. When she looked up they were all standing in front of the window watching her play, I don't know if they were intrigued because she was playing (to them) really well or really bad. Ann being a converted city girl did not think it was too funny." Bob is going to have a display of antiques to show his visitors on the barn tour, plan ahead and make some time, its sure to be a great day in the country. If you have any stories or photographs you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431 Pic 1 Bob Conrad working out in the barn when he had dairy cows circa 1960 Pic 2 Bob Conrad on the old farmall tractor, note the steel wheels. Pic 3 an arial view of the farm taken by Pete Conrad Pic 4 The Rural Glen Farm Barn as it appears today.

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