Historic Architectural Survey of Bowman County

The Farm Workshop

The rise of mechanized farming in the 1920s brought a new type of farm building into a central role on the farmstead: the shop. The farm workshop, symbolizing the greater importance of mechanized cash grain farming relative to such earlier pursuits as poultry or dairy, assumed definite form during the generation from 1920 to 1950. This was not a blacksmith shop; rather the welder was to assume the place of honor in this facility. This type of shop succeeded the blacksmith shop, but preceded quonsets or manufactured machine sheds.

One problem to be overcome in working on the new machinery was the sheer weight of the stuff. The builders of this farm shop in the Grand River valley, however, put the topography to work for them by building into the bank. The walls of the ground level of the shop are concrete, and the stringers under the floor of the second level are lengths of railroad rail, from which blocks and tackles were strung to lift equipment.

A characteristic feature of farm shops of this era was the valuted roof. Also, of course, farm shops had large doors, usually rolling doors, to admit machinery. The typical farm shop at left is a simple frame building, but it exhibits the basic features.

This farm shop from the northeast part of Bowman County is more elaborate, while displaying the same essential features as other shops of the era. It was heated for the comfort of winter-time tinkerers. Shelves and cabinets full of parts and tools lined the side walls.

To see the outstanding farm workshop in Bowman County, go to the exhibit.

Center for Heritage Renewal