In 1935 the U.S. Government transported 200 families from the Great Depression-stricken midwest to a valley of unparalleled beauty in Alaska, where they were given the chance to begin new lives as part of a federally-funded social experiment, the Matanuska Colony Project. As part of each family’s farmstead, a magnificent barn was raised, a sturdy square structure 32′ by 32′ and soaring 32′ high. Today these Colony barns are an iconic reminder of what has been called the last great pioneering adventure in America.
The history of the Colony barns is told in this book, beginning with an introduction to many of the barns built by the earliest pioneering farmers in Alaska, then sharing an overview of the 1935 Matanuska Colony Project (detailed in the book of the same title), with dozens of black-and-white and color photos. The details of construction are highlighted, with prices for everything from the hinges on the doors to the cupolas on the roofs. And then the barns are introduced one-by-one, those still in use today, those falling into disrepair, and those which have been lovingly restored for future generations to admire. There are half-barns, double barns, many moved across the valley barns, and the unusually magnificent arch-roofed barns, of which four were built and only two remain.
From the back cover: “Anyone who travels through the eastern part of Alaska’s dramatically beautiful Matanuska Valley soon finds a Colony barn enhancing the landscape. These striking Valley landmarks are the enduring legacy of an all-but-forgotten chapter in American history, when the U.S. government took a direct hand in the lives of thousands of its citizens, offering Depression-distraught farm families an opportunity to begin again in a far-off land with government financing and support. Central to every Colony farm was the barn, a core structure integral to the operation of these family farms.”
• The Matanuska Colony Barns: The Enduring Legacy of the 1935 Matanuska Colony Project, by Helen Hegener, photographs by Eric Vercammen, Stewart Amgwert, Albert Marquez, Dave Rose, Joanie Juster, Ron Day and others. Foreword by Barbara Hecker. Introduction by James H. Fox. 140 pages, full color. ISBN 978-0-9843977-4-7. Includes Colonist families listing, maps, bibliography, resources, index. List price $29.00.
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