Eden Valley’s barns were
researched in 2003-2004 as part of Wyoming’s Barn Again! event sponsored
by the Wyoming Council for the Humanities. The amateur historians of
The Eden Valley History Project collaborated to research Eden Valley’s
barns to further their goals of documenting the area’s past. The
resulting program, based on their research, “If Barns Could Talk:
Finding Eden in Wyoming’s High Desert” was presented at ten locations
throughout the state during 2004. The photographs and information
displayed in our gallery are the result of that Barn Again! program.
Keeler Barn - about 1910
The presentation argues
that barns are emblematic of rural communities, revealing the history
and character of the community and its ties to agriculture. Eden Valley
barns reveal the history of the area, telling the story of resilient
people determined to turn the desert into a garden from its early
settlement around 1908 to the present. Despite hardships, people have
persisted in living in the Eden Valley and have adapted their barns as
agricultural practices have changed over time.
Eden Valley Barns Today
Barns reflect the changes that took place when dairymen
shifted raising cattle and sheep and growing grain and hay to
feed them. Some barns were again used primarily to shelter
animals and store crops. Increasing numbers of people who
did not work in agriculture began to move to Eden Valley.
When they bought places with old barns they often converted them
to non-traditional uses. Some became woodworking shops.
Another barn has been converted for meat packing and storage.
The former granary at the old Keeler barn has been converted
into a photographic dark room.
What The Barns Tell
As we listen to what Eden Valley barns tell us, we hear a
consistent theme throughout the history of the community: the
desire to create a personal Eden in the high plains desert of
Wyoming. For Eden Valley settlers, as well as present day
residents, making the desert bloom has been an uphill struggle,
but the old barns provide a constant reminder of the good times
that made those struggles worthwhile.