Henry County historical highlights
A new exhibit at the Swedish American Museum this fall features sections of wooden beams from an 1889 barn near Swedesburg. These thick beams were fastened together using nothing but notches and wooden pegs. The museum exhibit includes the beams, wooden pegs, and a hand-operated auger used to make the holes for the pegs. The wooden pegs themselves had been whittled by hand.
Although no one knows for sure where the wood for this barn came from, it’s possible that it originated in Minnesota. At the time this barn was built, Iowa was mostly covered with tall grass prairie. Forests and trees were not plentiful. Minnesota, however, was covered with forests and lakes similar to those found in Sweden. Logging became a major industry in Minnesota, and its great white and red pines were harvested for lumber in the 19th century. This industry was in full swing by the 1850s. Harvested logs were often transported by floating them downriver, including via the Mississippi River.