The Yakima Valley is a vast agricultural area in Central Washington State. This green oasis in the desert features apple, cherry, peach, pear orchards, dairy products, mint, wine and concord grape vineyards and more. The land is irrigated by snowmelt stored in lakes and released during the summer. Since the valley was settled in the early 1800’s, there have been family farms and unique barns built in the area. Here are a few examples of these historic Yakima Valley barns on the Washington State Heritage Barn Register.
Johnson Orchards has been in the Yakima Valley for over 100 years. The orchard land was purchased in 1904, during a free trip to Yakima offered by the railroad to anyone who wanted to purchase land and plant orchards. The barn was built in 1916,* and the city has grown up around the house, barn and orchard. The barn fruit stand is open and sells farm fresh fruit apples, pumpkins and homemade pies and sweets. Location: 4906 Summitview Ave. Yakima
Thistle Dew Farm, Minnehaha Ranch: The “Octagonal Era” of round barn design was popular for a short time from 1850 until 1900.** This barn in west Yakima, was built in 1915. Round barns were often multi sided including layouts of six, eight, nine, ten, twelve, fourteen and sixteen sides. This barn has 10 sides built from lumber harvested in the Tampico area. Whole logs were brought down by horses to the farm site to be hand hewn and milled for building the house, sheds, and barn. The animals were kept in the basement or bottom area, with hay was stored above in the main part of the wooden structure. Hay was brought into the barn through two large doors at either side of the north panel of the barn. The floor still has wheel and hoof stops in place to help stop the heavy wagons. Originally there was a large hayfork suspended from a pulley system directly beneath the cupola in the center of the barn. Now only the cables and pulley system are left. Hay was fed to the animals below in the milk parlor via 3 trap door feeding chutes located on the west, south, and east sides of the barn. The trap doors are gone but the chutes are left intact. The barn was painted a bright barn red with white trim on each corner, white trim around all of the windows, and white under the eaves. The cupola has 10 latticework doors that were opened during the summer to create a downdraft to dry and cool the stored hay. Location:16781 Cottonwood Canyon Road, Yakima
Noy Farm: Prairie barns, also known as Western barns, featured a peak roof projecting above a hayloft opening. The larger herds associated with agriculture in the West and Southwest required great storage space for hay and feed. Accordingly, prairie barns are on average much larger than other barns. Long, sweeping roofs, sometimes coming near the ground, mark the prairie barn; the extended roof created great storage space. Later in the nineteenth century, the adoption of the gambrel roof enlarged the storage capacity of the haymow even more. Affinities of this barn type with the Dutch barn are striking: the long, low roof lines, the door in the gable end, and the internal arrangement of stalls in aisles on either side of the central space are all in the tradition of the Dutch barn. Location: 12002 Gilbert Road, Yakima
Flint Olsen Barn: Driving towards the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail, Washington Wine Country in Zillah , WA, this barn is on the Yakima Valley Highway. This barn is rectangular with a cupola. Built by the Purdy J. Flint family around 1890 to house horses and cows. the upstairs was used for storage of hay and feed. The property was purchased by Knute Olsen and his brother Martin in 1909. The sale information at the time list the barn as a “two-story modern barn” The farm has always been used for growing fruit trees such as pears, prunes and apples and is still farmed by members of the Olsen family.***Location: 7759 Yakima Valley Highway, Zillah
Herke Hop Kiln circa 1915: Antony and Gertrude Herke and 8 children emigrated Germany in 1869 and worked their way across the United States. When they reached San Francisco, they took a steamboat to The Dalles, then a wagon to Fort Simcoe and finally Ahtanum Mission. Two more children died in infancy along the way. The Herkes bought land near the mission and later 160 acres in Parker Bottom where they grew hops. Antony died in 1908 and his two farms were divided among the 6 surviving children. About 1915 the hop kiln was built for the growing hop market. In 1929 alone, 4,045,000 pounds of hops were harvested and sold from the Yakima Valley and with the repeal of prohibition, production doubled between 1932-34. The kiln was used until World War II. By this time the McDonald family, neighbors of the Herkes, had purchased the land where the kiln was located. In 1978 the kiln was moved 800 feet and put on a block foundation out of the way of construction of Interstate 82. Since then it has been used for hay storage. In addition the kiln’s picture is on the label of Piety Flats Wines.****
Bella Terra Gardens, Barbee Orchards: This barn, built in 1915, has a gabled wooden structure with a loft that was used to store hay for livestock. One section of the barn housed a cow that was milked and fed daily. Hay was dropped down from the loft through a hole in the loft floor directly into a manger. While the cow munched contently on the hay, the farmer hand milked it. There are two sliding cross-buck doors that open into a main storage area. This was used to store farm equipment and as a shop work area. The end vertical door slide up to close off the hayloft or down to close off the main floor area of the barn. The cow was sold and the pasture became a pear orchard, with the barn providing storage and protection for farm equipment. Recently, in order to keep up with the changing agricultural economy, the old pear orchard was removed and replaced by a new organic garden. This majestic barn is now a fruit stand, farm store and a petting zoo of farm animals called Bella Terra Gardens. **** Location: 660 Bella Terra Road, Zillah, WA
The Yakima Valley currently has 20 barns listed on the register of Heritage Barns of Washington State. More barns are in the cities of Tieton, Selah, Yakima, Moxee, Wapato, Toppenish, and Sunnyside. For a comprehensive list of Yakima Valley Heritage Barns of Washington State Click here and go to pages 16-17.
Here is one story on how a Washington State Grant was used to restore a Yakima Valley barn. Click here.
*Johnson Orchards Excerpt State of Washington documents
**Thistle Dew Farm Excerpt from Wikipedia , Excerpt State of Washington documents
***Flint Olsen Barn Excerpt State of Washington Documents
****Herke Hop Kiln Excerpt pg.53 State Of Washington Documents
****Barbee Orchards Excerpt State of Washington Documents
The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. If you would like to receive additional information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.