Friday, May 17, 2019

Thumb Octagon Barn in Michigan

Traveling through the Midwest this summer? Have children or grandchildren aboard?  The Thumb Octagon Barn is just the place for a stopover, and it is free.

This "is easily the most unusual barn anywhere in the region. It is the largest timber frame octagon barn in the country at 102 feet across and 70 feet high," according to Michigan Back Roads Getaways. "When construction began in 1924, it was known as an air castle because the entire vast interior is open and the roof seems to be suspended above."

It's taken a dedicated team of volunteers decades of work to do the restoration and preservation of the barn complex for the community. Rescue efforts have saved the barn from demolition, then restore the barn, then restore the house and spruced up the surrounding grounds, they said.

School Days at Thumb Octagon Barn.
The vision to preserve grew into a plan to own and operate an educational/ historical/ agricultural site for the education, recreation and entertainment of the community and visitors.

The complex is a great place for kids to explore and folks of all ages to enjoy.

Looking to volunteer while you're RVing? Check out this place.  One fulltime RVer, Rob Hendershot from Oregon, volunteered for a month while he was visiting family nearby.

"I gave tours of the barn," he said.  "It was great fun and I met hundreds of people from around the country."  If you can just pitch in for a day, check to see if there is room on a Monday construction crew.

"Every Monday, if conditions permit, there is an adult construction crew that works on many projects throughout the year. Adults wishing to join may contact: Louis Wehrman (989) 648-3480; or Wayne Lenton (989) 658-8283," according to the website.

RV campgrounds nearby
Looking for a place to camp within about 15 miles, try Campers Haven Family Campground in Bad Ax, Michigan; or the Sebewaing River Campground in Sebewaing, Michigan.

2019 Schedule of Events

If you go:
Thumb Octagon Barn Museum
6948 Richie Rd.
Gagetown, MI 48735
(989) 665-0081
Admission: Free (donations accepted)
Open: May 15--September 30
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday Noon-5 p.m..
Guided Tours for groups of 10 or more: $5 per person (children 6 and under are free)
Directions: The Thumb Octagon Barn Agricultural Museum is located in Tuscola County north of Detroit.  It is approximately 1 mile east of the Village of Gagetown along Bay City Forestville Road, 1 mile north on Richie Road, just south of the Huron County border.

--Julianne G. Crane
To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to
Images: Courtesy of Thumb Octagon Barn 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Dorothy's House from "The Wizard of Oz"

Dorothy's House & Land of Oz in Liberal, Kansas (

Although Dorothy and Toto blew in from Kansas in 1939, it was not until 1981 that her home was found; and it is a perfect RV Short Stop for families.

A handful of promotion savvy citizens from Liberal, in southwest Kansas, found a small, 1907 farm house outside of town and moved it to the Coronado Museum grounds. It was transformed by volunteers into a replica of the house shown in the award-winning movie. Then-governor John Carlin christened it the official home of Dorothy Gale.

Dorothy's House in Kansas (
The life-sized wood-framed house closely reflects the one that L. Frank Baum wrote about in the classic American children's novel, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

Visitors can enter the Land of Oz by stepping into a 5,000 square-foot animated exhibit space and continue their magical journey. The Land of Oz is a walk-thru series of dioramas inspired by the film and created by Kansas native Linda Windler.

Visitors follow a painted Yellow Brick Road as a local 'Dorothy' guide stops at displays and recites key plot points and dialog from the film. Along the way visitors will meet Munchkins, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.

There are unique memorabilia, including the actual model of the house that was used in the tornado scene in the 1939 movie. However, do not look for the actual red shoes worn by Dorthy.  "An actual pair would cost about a million and a half dollars," said guide Dorothy. "They're Hollywood's most expensive memorabilia."

Save time to visit the Seward County Historical Museum which "features items that helped to settle the territory during its Wild West heyday. The museum houses a large collection of things that gave the area a more civilized tone, including a beautifully restored ornate antique organ, quilts, and home furnishings."

Seward County Historical Museum

If you go:

Dorothy's House and Land of Oz
Seward County Historical Museum
(620) 624-7624
567 Yellow Brick Road
Liberal, KS 67901
Directions: East edge of town. One block north of US 54, at the corner of Virginia Ave. and Cedar St. / Yellow Brick Rd.
Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun 1-5 pm; (closed Mondays off-season, Labor Day-Memorial Day)
Admission: Adults, $7; Children, 6-18, $4.50; Under 6 free; Seniors: $5.50.

-- Julianne G. Crane
To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to