If you drive around rural Maine long enough...

Where I grew up, there wasn't a lot to do. Often times, out of lack of anything better, we'd just hop in a car and take off. No destination, just cruising the back roads, cranking tunes and looking for low-grade trouble. Not real trouble, just something better than sitting at home, watching TV. Do enough random driving, and you see some weird stuff. Like Tony... who was voted the ugliest statue in Maine.

Google Street View
Google Street View

One thing I used to see, but didn't really understand the purpose, were these little barns that were all but buried underground. Usually, one end would face the road, and not have dirt covering it, but the rest would basically be buried in the side of a small hill, almost up to the roof. And I'm not talking about mausoleums like you see by the road in cemeteries. These were near houses.

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Naturally, my grandfather explained it to me.

Most of these little barns I see are mostly dilapidated, and don't look like they're used for much of anything. Maybe old junk or whatever. But their actual use goes back a few generations, when "semi-perishable" foods needed a place to live year round. Things like potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc., were stored in these. It's basically a root cellar.

Library of Congress.gov
Library of Congress.gov

Now, my grandfather called it a potato house. As I think a lot of Mainers do, because of the obvious connection to our largest cash crop. But all those other vegetables could be stored there too. The reason the root cellars are buried, was to keep a more consistent year-round temperature. Root veggies greatest enemy is the heat, or bitter cold.

But if you've ever been driving through some podunk town in the middle of nowhere, and wondered what those little shack-y barns were, now you know. Of course, our County friends are all pointing and laughing at us city slickers. You'll find plenty up there, haha. But at least now you have another piece of road trip trivia...

This home may be over a million bucks, but I bet it doesn't have a root cellar...

Stunning $1.6 Million Home in Hampden

You could probably get pretty comfy here.

Gallery Credit: Jason Stewart

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