Historic barn near Sisters being preserved.

The Bulletin reports on the Land Trust's stabilization of the Hindman Barn.
By Scott Hammers
The Bulletin


One of the oldest still-standing structures in Central Oregon is being reinforced in an attempt to save it from falling down.

At the Camp Polk Meadow Preserve about three miles northeast of Sisters, what’s left of the Hindman barn is still standing after nearly 150 years.

Earlier this month, the Deschutes Land Trust launched a preservation campaign to shore up the barn and its aging timbers, which the Land Trust acquired along with the rest of the 151-acre preserve in 2000.

Amanda Egertson, stewardship director for the Land Trust, said years of neglect left what remains of the barn unstable, and unsafe to anyone tempted to duck under the caution tape that previously ringed the site.

Built by Sam Hindman around 1870, the barn was one part of Hindman’s larger homestead at the eastern end of the Santiam Wagon Road, the preferred route across the Cascades before railways and cars.

With multiple springs and an abundance of grazing grass, the meadow — named for the short-lived military post that was established about five years before Hindman’s arrival — was at a crossroads of trails used by Native Americans well before white settlers started trickling in to the area.

Under a contract with the company that operated the Santiam Wagon Road, the Hindman family developed the meadow in to Camp Polk Station, a stop for travelers making the multi-day journey across the Cascades. At Camp Polk Station, travelers could buy or trade supplies, find a place to sleep, feed and water their animals, and even connect with distant friends and family — the post office was established in 1875 at Camp Polk, only the second in Central Oregon.

Nearly 150 years of exposure to the elements has taken a toll on the old barn.
In 1990, a large windstorm damaged much of the remaining roofing and siding. The owner at the time removed what was left after the storm, leaving behind a box-like timber frame.

Egertson said the pieces still standing were built from ponderosa pines felled on site and shaped with an ax, presumably by Hindman himself. Many of the beams have a sort of feathered texture, created by the repeated strikes of Hindman’s ax as he worked the round trunks into squared-off beams.

The original construction was completed with limited hardware, the wooden beams fitted together with a combination of mortise and tenon joints and wooden pegs.
Egertson said the restoration has taken a deliberately light touch, so that much of the recent work goes unnoticed by the untrained eye.

Steel plates have been added to strengthen the connection between vertical posts and horizontal sills, slipping the plates in to a notch cut with a chainsaw and securing the bottoms of the plates in a concrete footing. Missing or rotted pegs have been replaced, and the barn now stands square, mostly.

The stabilization unearthed a handful of relics the Land Trust hopes to learn more about, including metal fittings and a beer bottle found about a foot below the earth.
The house where the Hindman family lived was demolished in 1960, but the remains of the family’s root cellar are nearby. Hindman said the rock-lined, roughly 6-foot-deep pit was originally beneath the family’s kitchen, and equipped with a trap door for access to milk and other perishable foods.

Egertson said the Land Trust has no plans to fully restore the Hindman barn, but with the structure now stable, it can safely be reopened to the general public. She said the Land Trust is planning continued restoration of meadow vegetation, and an improved informational kiosk to share the story of the place in the coming years.