|Vestiges of earlier America, tobacco barns hold allure for preservationists|
PORT TOBACCO, Md. - The quaint village of Port Tobacco in the rolling hills of southern Maryland, an hour from Washington, has a few pre-Revolutionary War homes on a square and a rebuilt courthouse that only hint at what was a once-important river port and a colony built on the export of tobacco.
The tributary that connected the town to the Potomac River and the seas beyond is mostly silted over now. But from the 17th century, when local Indians taught colonists about tobacco, to the 19th century, ships took the crop to eager buyers in England.
A few hundred feet away from the square, perilously close to a busy two-lane road, is an iconic symbol of that era: a weathered tobacco barn, 20 feet by 40 feet. Once used to cure tobacco leaves, it's now falling down . But an effort is underway to restore it, along with others like it.
Areas in tobacco-growing states - Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia and Maryland - are dotted with the wooden barns, some that date to the Revolutionary War, others to the boom years after the Civil War, when the Union soldiers discovered the sweet tobacco of the South. Many more were built in the 20th century.
(Kansas City Star, 1/29/14)