(Griswold) – When Wayne Kirchhoff lost his eye in a farm accident in 1972, he was understandably uncertain about his future.
Forty-seven years later, Wayne still has his sight and has used his remaining vision to not only live farm life to the fullest and enjoy time with his family, but also to build one of the most popular miniature barn displays. most impressive in the world.
Wayne is the youngest son of the late Walter and Marie (Beisser) Kirchhoff. He still grows it with his older brother, Delbert, who is 91 years old. Wayne, who is 84, is very close to his nine nieces and nephews.
He took a break from farming after high school to serve in the military as a communications specialist in 1957 and 1958, where he spent time in Germany.
Upon returning home, Wayne continued to farm with his father and Delbert, raising the day’s standard row crops with feeder pigs.
From 40 acres purchased in 1960 for $160 an acre, Wayne is proud to now own 550 acres nearly 60 years later.
Then and now, Wayne enjoys planting a big garden to share with his friends and family.
It was March 1985 when Wayne built his first miniature barn and he pulled it all off.
It is a model farm where his grandmother and father were raised near Lewis and it includes not only the barn but many other outbuildings including the pigsty, chicken coop and much more. It was a lot to bite into for his first venture, but Wayne was certainly up to the task.
Over 120 miniature structures later, Wayne describes one of his favorites.
“The big red barn is from Illinois. I went to see it. It was 90 feet long, 50 feet wide, had 40 foot side walls, and the cupola was 12 x 24 feet, but it was destroyed 56 years ago, but he gave me a picture of what it looked like,” Wayne says.
And Wayne proceeded to build a scale model of the barn, cupola and all, which you can see for yourself at his display, which encompasses an entire room at the Cass County Historical Museum on the Main Street in Griswold.
“Also the round one with the domed roof,” says Wayne. “There were only four that were built in the state of Iowa – the real ones – and this one is still standing.”
Has Wayne ever taken a break from building miniature barns and other structures?
“I got tired of building barns one year so I made tractors.”
And make tractors he made, all of wood. Three John Deere tractors, an Allis Chalmers tractor with an Allis Chalmers combine, even a Ford 8N tractor that you’ll think is metal until Wayne reminds you, of course, they’re not.
Other projects built by Wayne that are not barns are Lewis’s Schoolhouse, Lewis’ Wooden Water Tower, and Lewis’ Rolling Mill, which is a miniature of the original made from mill timber itself, cut in 1850!
It’s a must-see scenario to appreciate, so Wayne invites you to view his collection when the weather warms up, as the museum will officially reopen in mid-May and remain open until the 2nd Saturday in December. .