“Roman ruins” of Cascade, Wisconsin

January 31, 2013

Let’s have a little fun. While traveling through Sheboygan County, I came across the intersection of CH V and High View Road. For no real reason at all, I turned north on High View, traveled a few hundred feet, and came upon a dilapidated old farm complex that made me feel like I was walking through “Roman ruins.” It was exciting, and I have returned with the photography to try to figure out exactly what I saw.


This is a satellite view of what we came upon. We are looking roughly to the west. I parked across the road and my wife and I wandered through the complex, two city people lost in time. This complex is opposite the Nichols Creek State Wildlife Area, which is between High View Road, CH N, and CH V.


This is the view as I approached the area. We are now looking to the north. There are two silos; one simply is blocking the other on this view.


I am assuming this to be where the barn was, and that this was a dairy farm, again looking east.


I assume the cows entered and exited through the wide opening; there was a door to the left. I believe that is the center alley in the middle.



Love the stone work.


Note the metal ring extruding from the wall. I do not know what that was for. I saw only one.


On each side of the center alley, facing outward, are “rails” that marked the end of the stalls in which each cow was placed. While there were none standing here, my guess is that on the other side stood stanchions to hold the cows for milking and then between this “rail” and the outer wall was the feeding area. I suspect those heavy cables were attached to the stanchions probably to brace them, or they were attached to each cow.

I should say here I wish I had been on this visit with someone who understood dairy barns inside and out. I could be much more accurate and could have had much more fun, though I confess it was fun climbing around through all this. If any of my readers can help me out here, I would love to hear from you ---


A closer look at what I am calling the “rail.” I am assuming the carve out is to make it easier for the cow to bend her head to eat the feed on the other side.

This next photo was intriguing.


Lying on the ground was an automotive car engine distributor, shown center, with another distributor cap next to it. It looks to me like the distributors were for a six cylinder engine. I believe the two cylindrical objects below the distributor are ignition oils. These supply the distributor high voltage electricity to fire the spark plugs. My guess is these were from some farm equipment. But it is curious why they are just lying there.


We are now on the other side of the facility. Note the two silos and attached building.


This is a look at the building from the other side, from inside were the cows would be. The nearest building is attached to one of the silos, but that is all, it is simply attached to it.


I apologize for the glare. What is curious here is that it appears the cows could go into the room downstairs and in or out the wide door on the other side. My guess is the second floor is where the hay and feed was stored for immediate use, having been taken from the silo.


To the rear on the left, you can see stairs which must have gone up to the taller building on the other side.


Now we come to the two silos. Both silos are concrete. But right off the bat, you can see differences.

Both of these are known as concrete stave silos. Here’s how wikipedia defines this:

“Concrete stave silos are constructed from small precast concrete blocks with ridged grooves along each edge that lock them together into a high strength shell. Much of concrete's strength comes from its high compressibility, so the silo is held together by steel hoops encircling the tower and compressing the staves into a tight ring. The vertical stacks are held together by intermeshing of the ends of the staves by a short distance around the perimeter of each layer, and hoops which are tightened directly across the stave edges.”

Interestingly, this design allows a farmer to make his silo higher or lower, depending on his needs and finances.

Sometimes, you will see the steel hoops on the outside. But for these, they are on the inside. For the moment, ignore the hoops you see on the silo on the right.


This closeup shows clearly that we have circular concrete blocks resting on each other. But we do not see any steel hoops.


However, with the silo on the left, we see some wear and tear topside. The yellow arrow points to it. Now I am going to blow up that section to 300 percent to give you the best view of what is behind the outside layer of concrete.


We have lost a bunch of resolution, but I will go out on the limb and say that is a metal, probably steel hoop exposed there and rusting. So for this design of a concrete stave silo, the steel hoops were placed between layers of the concrete for reinforcement.

Before going on, I want to show you a schematic of concrete stave silo. First my original photo:


Then the schematic.


Now I have the problem of explaining the silo on the right; why is the chute that covers a column of unloading doors open about halfway up and then why are steel hoops on the outside of that silo from that point down?


I believe this opening is called a “door slit.” It is bridged by reinforcing rods. It is hard to see, but if you look carefully you can see other rods that connect one side of the slit to the other. These may have been used as a ladder. Let me give you a closer look at that.


There are actually three shown here, one sort of obscured by the band on the outside. Note the pieces of wood sticking in there vertically.

Now I am going way out on the limb here. Readers should hurry to correct me if I am wrong. The semi-cylindrical appendage coming down the side of the silo is the unloader. I am going to assume here that for this silo, the farmer wanted to unload at that height, and therefore I am going to assume the barn was attached here and the silage flowed into the barn. That would help expelling those pieces of wood still attached to the silo.


Now to the other silo, I’ll go even farther out on the limb. You see the unloader there is about 10 ft. above ground level. I am going to assume that a vehicle or bin of some sort could drive under that unloader can get its load and pull out.


I’m going to leave my “Roman ruins” on this final note. It was interesting to see this wood piled as neatly as it was. I know from other research I have done that wood from old barns can be very valuable --- people want to use it to build their new homes, for that rustic look. I am just wondering whether this wood might be for sale.

Whew, this was a tough one.