The Big Barn
The Big Barn
Fragments of history are often lost over time as new and interesting pieces of modern history surface. However, the Big Barn is not one of those items that disappear as time moves on. Although construction began on the barn in 1859, the memory of the barn that was once the largest in the state of New York has not been tarnished or forgotten in the past 153 years.
The Big Barn was designed and built under the supervision and instruction of Lyman Rasselas Lyon, the namesake of Lyons Falls. The son of Caleb Lyon Senior owned most of the land that is now called Lyons Falls. His brother, Caleb Lyon Junior, owned the land that became Lyonsdale. Lyman R. Lyon was recognized as a fairly strong architect as well as a civil engineer. This knowledge, combined with the desire to be a farmer, led Lyman R. to embark on one of the most startling adventures of his life; building the Big Barn.
Lyman R. Lyon built the barn on his 800 acre farm in order to house his 90 cows. The barn was 221 feet long and 48 feet wide. On the side of the barn overlooking the beaver meadow, the barn was four stories high. The basement of the barn was large enough to hold 200 head of cattle. Thirteen ventilators ran from the stable to the top of the building to circulate the air and keep the animals safe. The highest peak on the roof reaches 80 feet. The basement of the barn is said to have had a root cellar and machinery for doing the strenuous farm chores that did not yet have machinery to replace men, such as threshing, cutting roots, and carrying feed to the animals. This machinery was powered by water power. The barn was completed in 1868 after the workers who had served as soldiers during the Civil War returned home to Lyons Falls.
The barn cost around $12,000 to build when all the supplies and laborers were factored into the cost of construction. There were around 500 men who contributed to the project. Since Lyman R. was against smoking and drinking, the men who helped raise the barn were served an endless supply of donuts and coffee, but not an ounce of alcohol. On completion, the barn was the largest barn in New York State.
The barn was torn down in 1929 on the orders of the Hone family, who were the current owners of the property. The lumber was sold to construct three new barns and three camps. The money was used by the Hone family during the Great Depression. Although the barn no longer stands today, parts of the foundation still exist on what used to be part of the 800 acres Mr. Lyman R. Lyon owned outside of Lyons Falls.