Photography by Albert Marquez


When my friend Albert Marquez, of Planet Earth Adventures LLC, offered to shoot photos of some of the Colony barns for me I knew his work would be first-rate, but I didn’t expect the incredible perspectives and amazing colors he captured. His kind and generous efforts comprise a spectacular visual addition to the forthcoming book:


Wineck Barn

The Wineck barn in winter (photo by Eric Vercammen/Northern Light Media)


Ed Wineck was one of the original pioneers of the Matanuska Valley, pre-dating the Colonist families. In 1936, after some of the original Colonists left, Ed became a replacement Colonist, and was given tract no. 174 near Bodenburg Butte, where he supervised the construction of homes and barns for neighboring families. Ed Wineck and his wife Emma farmed for over 40 years, starting the Valley’s first poultry farm in 1937.

Wineck barn shortly after being moved to the Alaska State Fairgrounds (Library of Congress Photographs Division HABS AK 13-PALM, V, 3A-1)

In 1975 the Winecks donated their barn to the Alaska State Fair, but the barn was too wide to pass through either of the narrow steel bridges across the Knik and Matanuska Rivers. It was not until the new Knik River Bridge was built in 1976 that the barn could be moved  down the Old Glenn Highway to the Parks Highway, across the Palmer Hayflats and back up the new Glenn Highway to the Fairgrounds. The classic gambrel-roofed Colony barn is now a major feature of the Alaska State Fair,  showcasing the Matanuska Colony Project and surrounded by beautiful gardens and flower displays each year.



Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, 3800 W. Museum Dr, Wasilla 

At the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, June, 2012 (photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media)

The large double barn at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry (MATI) is known locally as the Breeden barn, but it was actually created from two separate Colony barns by an early Valley homesteader named Frank Linn, whose son Allan grew up to be the State Director of Agriculture from 1975 to 1979.

Frank Linn came to Alaska in 1927 and spent three years working at the Matanuska Experiment Station. In 1928 he purchased 160 prime acres on the southern border of the Station, on a bluff with a commanding view of Pioneer Peak and the Chugach Mountains. In 1935 he sold his land to the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation (ARRC) for $5.09 an acre. Colonist Amedee Wilson won the choice tract in the original drawing, but in 1937 Amedee, his wife Leah, and their four children left Alaska.

Kelley Griffin and Ralph Breeden at Breeden’s farm, circa 1975 (photo courtesy of Kelley Griffin)

Frank and Vera Linn acquired the tract again in 1938, and in 1941 they added the neighboring tract, which had been won by Emil Larsh. The Linn family developed a dairy farm, and in 1943 they moved the Larsh barn adjacent to the Wilson barn at a right angle, creating the immense 85-foot-long by 28-foot-wide structure.

In 1957, Anchorage dairy farmers Don and LaVera Breeden purchased the Linn dairy and in 1958 they moved their operation to the Matanuska Valley. The dairy farm eventually changed into a vegetable farm, then became the Matanuska Riding Stables and Guest Ranch, and in later years the Matanuska Lake RV Park.

Interior of hay loft (photo courtesy of Ron Day)

In 2006 the Breeden family donated the barn to the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, and after all the permits, clearances, and other paperwork was in place, in the early morning hours of August 26, 2007, the giant structure was loaded onto a flatbed truck and moved to its new home. There is a wonderful photo by Robert DeBerry of the barn being moved through Wasilla at the Frontiersman web site.


Puhl / Bacon Barn


13151 E. Scott Road

Photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media

Joseph and Blanche Puhl and their two sons, Lloyd and Raymond, came to Palmer from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and they were one of the first three Colonist families to be self-supporting (others were Virgil Eckert and Walter Pippel), which came as a surprise to the managers, who had not expected any of the new settlers to be independent within fourteen months of arrival.

The Puhl’s unique round-log house is on the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike most of the Colony houses, it was built by the owners, with the assistance of other Colonists, during the summer of 1935. The Puhls dug their own well instead of waiting for the corporation well rig, which also helped to limit the Puhls’ indebtedness to the ARRC.

Joseph Puhl farm, date unknown (Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division HABS AK 13-PALM.V, 5-1)

Located on Tract 99 at what is now the corner of the Glenn Highway and Scott Road, the Puhl barn is also a departure from the standard Colony barn design by government architect David R. Williams. Like their neighbors and good friends the Eckerts, who selected tract no. 100, the Puhls built a smaller barrel-roofed barn (28’ x 32’), as compared to the standard 32’ x 32’ gambrel-roofed Colony barn.

Moved in 1958 

According to the book, Evaluation of Historic Sites in Palmer, Alaska, printed in September, 1988 by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Cultural Resources Division, “The barn originally stood on the northern end of the Puhl tract and had a first floor of log. Because it was built without a foundation, as was typical, the logs began deteriorating.

“In 1958 Dexter Bacon moved the barn to its present location and substituted a short concrete block wall and concrete slab floor. The laminated ribs now rest directly on the concrete block. The domed roof flares at the bottom. The barn is sided with drop siding and has fixed, six-pane windows. Large doors are located on either end. The building is currently used as a garage.”

A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve – or pair of curves, in the case of this barn’s pointed barrel vault roof – with the length being greater than its diameter.

The history of the property is also described in the Mat-Su Borough book: “In October 1942 the Puhls sold their land to Carl Wilson, who took over the Puhl’s obligation to the ARRC. In 1954 the Wilsons sold the land to Neil Miller, who later sold it to his daughter and son-in-law, Dexter and Priscilla Miller Bacon.”

As noted in the National Register of Historic Places listing, the house and property exhibit attention to detail and excellent care.

An interesting side note was a newspaper report in the Milwaukee Journal dated May 15, 1935 describing young Raymond Puhl, age 7, having contracted a mild case of measles and being completely segregated from the other passengers due to the contagious nature of the disease: “His sickness will not prevent his sailing Saturday…”

Bailey / Estelle Barn


3150 North Glenn Highway, Marsh Road

Bailey/Estelle barn, 2012 (photo by Eric Vercammen/Northern Light Media)

Ferber and Ruth Bailey of Lena, Wisconsin, joined the Colony trek in 1935 with their two children. Ferber, who drew tract no. 152, was a carpenter by trade, and he dug a full basement and then helped build their unique home, a one-and-one-half story frame building. The house has a gambrel roof matching the barn, a departure from the norm which makes the entire farm scene unusual and visually appealing, particularly when viewed with 6,398’ Pioneer Peak soaring in the background.

Ferber Bailey farm (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division HABS AK, 13-PALM.V,4-1)

The barn built for Ferber Bailey in 1936 is described in detail on the National Register of Historic Places registration form: “The barn, measuring 32’ x 32’, is a typical gambrel-roofed colony barn with flared eaves. It is of log and frame construction. Small, one-story wood-sided shed additions have been attached on the north and south facades. The original barn is intact and its front facade is unchanged. The barn sits on a concrete sill added when the building was moved. The first floor logs are covered with horizontal lap siding–it is the only colony barn originally constructed with siding over the logs. The upper floor, under the roof line, is sheathed with horizontal drop siding. The mid-section is covered with vertical boards. An open cupola, which vents the building, is located in the center of the high roof ridge. The roof eave extends over the hay loft door on the west side. The door is flanked by multi-pane windows, identical to those on the first floor. The first floor has standard double and single doors.

“The barn stands approximately 150 feet from its original site. It was moved in the late 1940s when the adjacent Glenn Highway was widened.”