Floor plans for the Dalziel Barn

Floor plans for the Dalziel Barn

The Floor Plan for the Schmidt-Dalziel Barn is about three times the size of a normal barn. For precise measurements of the structure please refer to Bruce Corley’s measured drawings of the Dalziel Barn . Please read on to see a photographic exhibition of our Dalziel Barn.


The upper level of the Barn measures 82 feet long (east-west) x 54 feet wide (north to south). The west mow measures 30′ x 30′, the two drive floors together are 32′ x 30′, and the east mow is a little smaller, at 20 x 30 feet. The forebay extension runs 8′ past the south walls and runs the entire length of the structure (82 feet). The north end of the barn extends 16 feet from the mows and runs the entire length of the structure (82 feet). Height wise, the roof peak or gable is 24 feet above the threshing floor and the mows are 14′ high. Combined with the lower level, from ground to gable peak, the Dalziel Barn measures 33 feet high (not including the cupolas).

The lower level of the barn also measures 82 feet long (east-west) x 46 feet wide (north-south). We’ve lost 8 feet because the cantilevered extension on the upper level provides a roof but no floor for the lower level. The lower level is composed of three bays. The middle bay (sitting below the two drive floors) is one large stable area measuring 32′ x 28′. The middle bay is sandwiched by two end bays measuring 30′ x 30′ at the west end and 20′ x 30′ at the east end. The north end of the lower level also extends 16 feet as above, providing five additional rooms, four to hold root vegetables and one to serve as a milk house. The lower level ceiling is 8 feet high.

The entire square footage of the Schmidt-Dalziel Barn is approx. 8,200 square feet (4,428′ for the upper level and 3,772′ for the lower).

The Threshing Floor

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Here’s a view of the Dalziel Barn threshing floors (or drive floors). We are looking north towards the drive floor doors. The two floors are separated by the central cantilever beam . Both threshing floors together measure 32 feet (east/west) x 30 feet (north/south). To the left is the west mow. The stairs were constructed when the museum was opened in 1957, as was the opening in the floor below. To the right, along the central cantilever beam is the hay hole — a door in the floor. Click here to see more details of the hay hole.

Imagine a team of 4 or 5 workers on the threshing floor pictured above — each using the flail to hammer at the loose sheaves of wheat (or rye, or barley, etc. ). Flails were long, thick sticks tied together with a leather strap or fastened with a steel hinge. They were swung over the shoulder to bring the one end crashing down on the stalks. Once the grain was separated from the sheaves, the stalks became straw. The straw was either stored in the mow, bailed, or thrown down the hay hole for the stables. The seeds on the floor were scooped up and put in a winnowing basket. Winnowing used a basket to throw the seeds and their husks up in the air. With the drive floor doors open on the north end and forebay doors open on the south end, a cross breeze was used to separate the grain from the husk (the wheat from the chaff). With a breeze, the husks were taken away by the wind while the seeds were heavy enough to fall back into the basket. This cross breeze passing through the barn was essential to farmers in order to accumulate enough grain to take to the mill.

Flailing was one reason you wanted the floor boards of the drive floor to be thick. Being able to support the animals, wagons, and carts was another reason. Here’s a view of our threshing floors, this time looking towards the west mow.

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A large area was necessary for grain to be trodden by oxen or threshed by hand. Hand-cranked threshing machines were common in the mid-nineteenth century and were usually positioned in the front of the threshing floor, close to the forebay granaries. If the barn was built around the threshing floor then Johannes Schmidt must have envisioned a lucrative future. Here you can really get an idea of how much space there was to flail and how much wind could be admitted with both large doors open at the north (right) and south (left) sides of the barn. Click here for a more detailed look at our drive floor and forebay doors.

The floor boards are quite thick, between 2-1/2 and 2-3/4 inches (a little bigger than what’s pictured at left) and sit freely on top of the joists supporting the floor. Floor boards were rarely nailed into the joists because nails would eventually work their way out and become a hazard to farmer and animal. For 20 feet, starting at the north end and moving south, the floor boards of the Dalziel barn are splined to prevent grain from falling down to the lower level and to keep the boards straight. Perhaps there was no time or money to complete the job or it was unnecessary to spline the boards which cantilevered out from the barn. The splines vary in size from .75 — 1 wide and .25 — .5 thick.

Here’s another view of our bent and threshing floors, this time looking east.

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The large drive floors allowed the farmer to pull his cart or wagon right onto the one drive floor, detach the cart from the horse or ox, and walk the animal around to the alternate drive floor and out of the barn. A large drive floor also allowed for many hands to thresh or for oxen to stamp the wheat. The boards of the drive floor vary in width from 12 to 24. The majority are 20 to 24.

Here’s a look at where the east drive floor door was located. A ramp leading up to the eastend drive floor, identical to the one to the left, has been covered with another ramp leading to the maple syrup display . This second ramp was added when the barn was converted to an agricultural museum in 1956. Without this obstruction, there was free passage through the doors, which would have been here . The east drive floor door frame was 17 shorter than its twin to the west.

The mows are where the Schmidts and, later, the Dalziels would store the sheaves before threshing; where they would store the straw once the seeds had been threshed; and where hay was stored for the cattle. Mows are often referred to as cribs because that’s what they look like — a big, giant log crib. A mow does not have to be a crib-like structure, nor need it be made of logs to be considered a mow.

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Here’s a shot of our west mow from the inside looking east. This, the larger of the two mows, measures 30 feet x 30 feet x 14 feet high and rests on a half field stone, half river stone foundation. Note how the roof sits on top of the cribs in a style reminiscent of the early swiss forebay barns from Prattigau. The modern staircase was built by the Authority in 1956 when the barn was converted to a museum.

Here’s a view of our west mow from the inside. The circle in the middle is what remains of a stove display installed on a bed of stones. A window hole is cut into the west log wall of the west crib and from photographic records appears to have been there before the Barn was handed over to the Authority. Look here to see. Up in the top left corner of the mow is where our raccoons slept. They eventually got tired of all the noise we were making and checked out. A raccoon is the historic building’s worst enemy. that and building developers.

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Here’s another view of the west mow. This time we’re looking at it straight on. Notice the opening cut into the log wall of the mow to facilitate the transfer of sheaves and straw back and forth. You can see a similar opening in the east mow detailed below. In comparing the two cribs we see the west mow is completely open on the left side — the joined logs extending from the south wall were cut away during the restoration in 1956. Before these logs were cut off, the west mow opening measured 197 across, 60 high and began 67 from the floor.

We don’t know why the logs were cut away from the left side and not the right but this action has weakened the joinery at the south-east corner of the west mow to the point where the forebay extension is starting to pull away from the rest of the building. This movement is minor but deserves attention none the less. Also lining the exterior log wall of the west mow are large boards . These planks go as high as the opening and were a part of the barn when it was acquired in 1954. The unusual notches in the lower cross beam are believed to have been mortises for floor joists supporting a second level which once existed over the west drive floor. And again, the stairs and opening in the floor leading to the lower level were added when the barn was converted to a museum in 1956.

east end

If the west mow was a dream to shoot, the east mow was a nightmare. Our idea behind digitization is to present the object in its natural state, meaning no shadows, no glare, no obstructions, and no artistic interpretation. Just the facts. As you can see from the photos of the east mow, it was hard to achieve these goals. Where the west mow was totally empty, the east was crowded with posts and beams. The two modern roof tops were installed as part of a display when the museum was opened in 1957. These, plus the modern staircase installed for visitor access, are distracting. But the mow itself is still quite visible.

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Floor plans for the Dalziel Barn

The east mow is a little smaller, measuring only 20 feet deep, but it maintains the same width as the west mow (30 feet). Just like the west mow, the roof rafters sit directly on top of the crib.

The east mow housed displays on the main level and sleighs in the loft at the east end of the crib.

Here’s another shot face on. The opening on the east mow is a little different from its twin across the floor. The opening itself is the same size — 197 across and 60 high, but the opening starts 17 (one log) higher than the west mow. See how the logs remain in horizontal alignment with the help of a wedge brace under each timber. You can see these better in the full size pic of the east mow.


west end

Here’s a look towards the west end of the forebay. Up at the top left you can see where the beam is coming apart from the west wall. There’s no telling when this movement started, but it is assumed that it began after cutting away the logs from the opening in the west mow. The end boards are recent (within the last decade), as is the roof (replaced in 1994). The floor boards are also modern milled boards, installed during the renovations in 1956/57.

We believe this is where they would have stored the grain in the early 1800’s. Later Pennsylvania Barns had granary bins built into the forebay area. Their absence is another indication of the barns age and its European ancestry.

east end

The forebay had plenty of storage for grain or farm implements. Here’s a sleigh we just couldn’t move (too heavy!) while shooting the east end of the forebay. For a closer view of the forebay click here . Pictured at left is the southern most post from our only bent. The post has been squared properly in a mill and is not of the period. This picture also gives you a good idea of why Schmidt or Dalziel chopped their forebay door in half — not much clearance between the post and the wall.

Here’s our forebay from the outside looking east along the length of the building. The eight-foot cantilevered extension and the open forebay classify this as a log Sweitzer Barn — the earliest class of Pennsylvania Barns. Later barns had shorter forebays, 4-5 feet in length. One reason for a shorter forebay extension could be the lack of old growth timbers available as more land was cleared by settlers. For an eight foot extension to be strong, the logs have to be thick enough for proper support.

North End

This area once housed chicken coops on the lower level and a granary above. Click on the image to see a full size view and click here to see a view from inside on the ground level.

We believe the granary moved from forebay to north end probably around mid-19th century when threshing machines came into use. Some threshers were hand cranked but others required a power source. Portable horse power, treadmills, or steam engines used belts and pulleys to run the threshing machines just inside the north doors. Into the 20th-century, mechanized threshing machines used gasoline engines. The danger of fire and the use of horse power all demanded mechanized threshing machines be set up at the rear of the barn, away from the animals. These threshing machines also produced more grain than the flail and therefore demanded larger granaries. This explains the rear extensions we see in some Pennsylvania barns to accommodate larger grain storage. It was much easier to extend the rear than it was to extend the forebay. Our second floor granary starts 83 from the floor at the highest end (at left).

Here’s the north-east corner of the barn. The ramp leading up to the rear was installed by the Authority in 1956. Underneath is a drive floor similar to the one present in the foreground. And there would have been a pair of doors leading to the outside where there is presently a wall. This area would have been used as storage or an additional granary.

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