HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
4617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-4617
How Many Tobacco Barns Are There?
A log tobacco barn in Caswell County
Modern bulk curing systems have replaced virtually all of
the old barns
At the peak of traditional tobacco cultivation in the mid-20th century, there may have been nearly a half-million tobacco barns in the state, mostly flue-cure barns in the northern piedmont and coastal plain but also lesser numbers of air-cure barns for burley tobacco in the mountains. Harvesting and curing tobacco was an annual ritual for thousands of North Carolinians. City cousins often joined their farm relatives to bring in the crop and load the barns for the cure, and owner and tenant, black and white, male and female, young and old, worked together around the old barns. No one would be able to count the number of tobacco barns remaining today. The most generous recent estimate is that 50,000 may still stand. There may actually be far fewer, and many thousands vanish every year. As the old barns disappear, part of North Carolina's history will fade away with them.
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