Along the U.S. Highway 10 corridor near Lake Park, Minnesota, lies a deteriorating Ochs Brick Company treasure. I used to travel this stretch of highway numerous times in the summer, on the way to our family lake cabin. It is a beautiful area, in the transition zone between the fertile Red River Valley and the rolling hills that signify you are nearing the lakes country of west central Minnesota. It is here you will find an old ACO barn and double silo combination, one of two I have seen in my travels.
The original barn and silo site have undergone some recent modifications. Large grain storage bins have been erected to the south of the barn, essentially blocking it from view. However, even these changes cannot hide the beauty of this old barn and silo combination.
For starters, look at the photograph to the left. The first level of the barn was made of large ACO block, while the upper stories of the barn were completed with wood. The photograph also shows the different colorations present in the ACO block. Most of the blocks look like a shade of adobe, but some almost seem to have a shade of purple. It is really a pretty combination. There are numerous windows around the outside of the barn too.
The double ACO silos are located on the west side of the barn, and are actually attached to the barn. Although hard to see, the photograph above shows the double silos are attached to a small side room extending off the barn.
The photograph above shows the double silos and barn, looking to the east. From this photograph, you can see the double silos are actually attached to each other, probably for additional support. The silo block is a different type of ACO brick, made with a curvature, so a round silo can easily be constructed.
Running up the sides of both silos are iron handles for climbing to the top. If you look closely, you can these iron bars were placed into the mortar seams. The various color shades in the clay block are also visible in the photograph to the right. Finally, near the top, you can see two different tiers of brick protruding from the top of the walls.
This is where the white semi-circle top was started. It is really neat how the tops were constructed. If you look at the white tops from the outside, they appear to be plain white mortar. However, if you look at them from the inside, you can see actual bricks which were laid to make the semi-circle tops.
For those who may not know, the round black circle in the white mortar at the top is where the grain was pumped into the silo. If you have driven around looking at these old ACO silos, you will notice that pigeons like these holes.
The larger perspective photographs show that the silos have a point at the top, where a wind vane or lightning rod is mounted. I believe it is a wind vane, but I have never climbed a ladder to verify this.
On the east side of the barn is another little building that extends out from the barn. I believe this is the milk house. As these barn and silo combinations were made for dairy cows, there had to be a place to gather the milk for market. There is even a little chimney that comes out of the roof of this room. Perhaps the dairy farmer wanted some heat during the cold months. It is really an all-in-one design concept, probably state of the art during its time.
This barn and double silo combination was owned by the Lake Park Lutheran Children’s Home, an orphanage for children. The only thing left to remind a person who the original owners were are the letters that are on top of the silo, the “L. P. L. C. H.” A photograph of the initials is shown below.
If you ever come across an ACO barn and double silo combination, you have found a rarity. It probably took a farmer with a fair amount of money to afford one of these. And like all barns, they continue to age. The brick work should last a long time, but the wooden parts decay rapidly with neglect. I hope this one lasts a while yet.