1831 - present
Founded in 1837, Weston served as a major Missouri River port town in the decades before the Civil War. Settlers from the Upper South moved to Platte County to take advantage of the area’s fertile soil and easy access to the Missouri River. Platte County farmers quickly emerged as major commercial producers of tobacco and hemp, and Weston became a primary distribution point for these cash crops. Both crops are labor-intensive to cultivate and process, and many Weston residents used the labor of enslaved people to produce them. Although hemp production declined after the Civil War and emancipation, Platte Countians have continued to produce tobacco up through today.
Many of the processing techniques that were used in the 19th century were continued into the 20th century. Curing, one of the most important steps in preparing tobacco crops for market, is the process of drying tobacco to facilitate natural chemical changes that produce the aromatic flavors prized in tobacco products. Special barns were built to cure tobacco, and by 1930 there were four hundred such barns in Platte County.
The Weston Bend State Park Historic Tobacco Barn, built in 1931, is an example of an air-cured barn. Farmers hung the tobacco from the barn’s many beams so that air could freely circulate around the leaves. Gaps between the vertical wooden planks on the outer walls and ground-level hinged panels created air circulation and allowed for humidity control. At the conclusion of the curing process, after approximately eight weeks, the tobacco was taken to the stripping room, where workers stripped the leaves from the stems and sorted and graded them by quality. Once stripped, graded, and bundled, the tobacco was ready for auction.
Categories: Agriculture, Business & Economy
Date: 1831 - present
Subject: Tobacco barns;
Contributing Institution: Missouri State Parks
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County: Platte County