Dahmen Art Barn, Uniontown, WA
While I was growing up, we used to drive past the Dahmen farm every few months. I would always look up from whatever book I was devouring at the time and intently try to count the iron wheels in the fences (there are over a thousand).
The barn, which lies just outside Uniontown, WA, about 16 miles from the Idaho border, was built in 1935 for Jack Dahmen and was part of a commercial dairy for several decades. Its distinctive wheel fence began accumulating sometime after 1952, when Jack’s nephew Steve Dahmen and his wife Junette purchased the barn.
Says Junette Dahmen in a history of the wheel fence, “Every wheel has a story from the smallest to the biggest. There are wheels from every kind of machine, an antique baby buggy, threshing machines, push-binder wheels, sidewinder or delivery rakes, old hay rakes and gears of every kind, large and small.”(source)
Some of the wheels are bolted in place, while others are welded or secured with metal strips. A few small wheels just nestle unfastened in the corners of other wheels, perhaps waiting to be added, or left by visitors wishing to contribute to the fence.
In 2004, the Dahmens donated the barn to a community nonprofit, the Uniontown Community Development Association (UCDA), which renovated the barn, brought it back into plumb, and added an elevator, heat, and restrooms. The Dahmen Art Barn now houses ten open artists’ studios, a gift shop, classroom space and a gathering hall in the former hay loft. The Barn is open to the public at no cost year-round, although “Bad winter weather occasionally causes highway closures in our area which may affect open hours of the barn.”
You can adopt one of the thousand metal wheels (proceeds support the Art Barn) here.