Agricultural Outbuildings: Corncribs

Since corn was one of the first crops planted during the settlement period, a structure to house ear corn typically was one of the first agricultural outbuildings constructed on a farm in Kentucky. Designed to store and dry corn, corncribs are utilitarian structures with a few basic forms. The first corncribs were single pen log structures, raised up from the ground on either stone or wooden piers, or a continuous stone foundation. Freestanding log cribs from the nineteenth century might now be log cribs encased inside of larger superstructures.
Over the years the single pen corncrib gave way to larger structures. The size of the corncrib depended on the amount of corn harvested. The height was determined by how high a man standing in a wagon could shovel. Later, after the invention of the portable grain elevator, corncribs could be constructed much higher. Although available by 1904, portable grain elevators did not make an impact on the Kentucky market until the mid-1930s.
Increased corn production in the 1930s through the 1960s led to a growth in both the number and size of corncribs across Kentucky. At the same time corn production began to increase sharply in the United States, drive-through corncribs began to be constructed. This consists of two cribs on either side of a central drive, all under one roof. Corn cribs are usually clad in vertical boards, and are raised off of the ground. Some corncribs, particularly the drive-through, might have a loft for additional grain storage above the central aisle and side cribs.
The use of alternate feed, such as soybean hulls, or crushed corn, along with a drop in the number of livestock on farms (the tractor replaced many of the draft animals that once consumed large amounts of ear corn), has diminished the role of the corncrib on the farm. Consequently, many wooden corncribs are being torn down or left to collapse on their own.