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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

HANGING OVER THE CREEK





Otter creek is a lovely body of water that runs through Madison County. It even has some mini-falls that are moving quite swiftly this spring. 

I was driving along one side of the creek a couple of weeks ago -- admiring this vintage farmstead's backside when I noticed a small structure that was halfway hanging over the creek-side. The backside of the old wooden structure had stilted wooden legs built to the upper part allowing the whole structure to remain level.

Now what was this structure/outbuilding used for?  I believe I have the answer? Do you? Come on -- have some fun and try to guess. Here is a close up of the outbuilding. 









34 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hmm -- it seems that ice houses in the south are built into the ground. Being from a northern state I do remember similar ice house forms like this above ground. One hint of the use of this outbuilding is that it hangs over a creek. Read June Calendar's answer below to understand how this all worked. As far as I know this is one southern way of having an outhouse? -- thanks -- barbara

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    1. Florence -- I would say you have guessed right. thanks -- barbara

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  3. Is it a one or two holer??? hahaha fun...

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    1. turquoisemoon -- I have even seen three holers! I think it is a two holer. thanks for the response -- barbara

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    1. Hattie -- Bingo! I believe you hit the jackpot -- thanks -- barbara

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  5. No windows. I would have to guess outhouse.

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    1. Grampy -- good observation -- no windows. Don't need those in an outhouse! -- thanks --- barbara

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  6. What comes to mind immediately is that it's an outhouse --letting the creek carry away the waste - not a very pleasant thought, especially when the creek gets lower in the summer. I hope you'll tell me that's wrong.

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    1. June -- I believe you are absolutely right. This was an ancient farm still being lived in -- don't think the outhouse would still be used -- but maybe? -- barbara

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    1. Barbara -- the overwhelming response to the question is that it is an outhouse. This was how I saw it. Did a paper on this type of outhouse/privy on an old farmstead in Oregon. Sure, don't see them very often. thanks -- barbara

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  8. I have no idea, but if it's a privvy it's definitely a two-holer.

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    1. NCmountainwoman -- By the width of the outhouse I agree with you -- definitely a two holer. thanks -- barbara

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  9. Back here these outhouses used to have a little heart-shaped opening in the door so that the occupant could be warned of approaching visitors. I have never seen any hanging over a river, though. A hole in the ground was the usual solution.

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    1. RunE -- I have heard that we had something similar -- only it was a half moon carved out of the entrance door. Have not actually seen one of these carved doors. I have a feeling that "hanging over water" was more prevalent in the warmer south than in the colder northern part of the US? thanks for your comment -- barbara

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  10. It that's it doesn't speak well of the neighbor concept for those unfortunate people downstream... I'm hoping it was for some kind of storage..:)

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    1. troutbirder -- I think that it was an outhouse. Having an outhouse over a body of water was not unusual at one time. I do know of one that was last used in the early 1900s. Perhaps there are some still being used in the back-roads of our country? I wonder if the users gave the down-river neighbors much thought?

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  11. ha ha ha....that's what I figured it was too....an outhouse! Prefer my indoor plumbing though....lol!

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    1. Pam -- I prefer mine also. Folks still remember what an outhouse looks like -- even though few are in use today -- except in state and national parks. thanks -- barbara

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  12. I knew the answer but I have tell you that the first thing that popped into my head was an Otis Redding hit...

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    1. Raining Iguanas -- Oh -- not familiar with the hits of Otis Redding. Have a feeling one of his hits has something to do with outhouses. thanks -- barbara

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  13. Barbara - Great topic and picture. We went to Fountains Abbey (north England) and saw latrines over the flowing water (a diverted river I think) used by the monks. They were made of stone. A very cold seat perhaps. I liked the ordinary everyday life set in amazing architecture!

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    1. claggle -- Now this is different slant on outhouses. Monks using latrines made of stone over a flowing water source. I wonder if they are still using them? I too like the contrast of common life set in amazing architecture. I think the Fountains Abbey would be a nice place to visit. thanks -- barbara

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  14. My suspicions were confirmed by your previous replies..Makes me more grateful for the indoor basics!

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    1. Leslie -- I guess its the size and no windows that gives this small outbuilding's identity away. Sure would hate to be in the place if those wooden legs gave way. Thanks Leslie for the comment -- barbara

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  15. Ponds, creeks, streams in spring hold such excitement... and memories.

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    1. Birdman -- Concur, your comment is spot-on -- for some folks even the memories! -- thanks Birdman -- barbara

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  16. Hello Barbara, I'm late in coming over to visit you & your Kentucky Folkways. I guess I wouldn't make a very good detective or anthropologist, because I wouldn't have guessed outhouse, especially one that "flows" down into the stream. I have to say, I do also appreciate indoor plumbing & marvel at the engineering invovled. Last year I visited one of the longest aquaducts in France, still remaining from Roman times. That too was impressive!

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    1. Rita -- How fortunate to experience a piece of history from Roman times. I feel that travelling to far-away places is a journey of knowledge. I hope that you got to examine it up close and touch it. The outhouse concept is not well known -- I was wonderfully surprised that so many commentors guessed it right away. Thanks Rita -- barbara

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  17. I have used many an outhouse, but never one that dumped directly into a creek! I guess waterways back then were used more for refuse disposal than admired for their beauty. Great find, Barbara!

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    1. Lexie -- Human waste was not always considered in a bad light. Perhaps that is why outhouses over streams were not necessarily considered bad. In our cleaned up culture it is tough to imagine such ways. Not that I want a return to using an outhouse though! thanks for stopping -- barbara

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