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Salvaging a piece of local history

Brad Campbell, of Longhorn Lumber Co., is salvaging a barn off Laughlin Road that is more than 100 years old

by: JASON CHANEY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brad Campbell looks over his salvaging project on Friday afternoon. He will convert the wood to a variety of usable products.

About a quarter mile west of the Laughlin Road/Highway 26 “Y” an aging barn adorns a small expanse of open land.
   Its deteriorated, grayish brown roof and gap-ridden walls reveals its decades of exposure to the unforgiving whims of the local climate.
   Soon the barn will stand no more.
   Powell Butte resident Brad Campbell began salvaging the old building early last week. His Longhorn Lumber Co. business dismantles the weathered structures and converts the remains for a variety of uses.
   “I have done everything from furniture to flooring,” Campbell said, adding that he was transformed some of the salvage lumber into timber accents for custom homes and commercial buildings or even picture frames.
   “Rather than see them fall down and eventually get piled up and burned, I’ll try to salvage them and turn them into usable material,” he said.
   Most times, Campbell finds new salvage ventures through word-of-mouth or by referral. However, he picked his latest project because the structure piqued his curiosity.
   “I kind of had my eye on that barn for a while, and then I found out that it belonged to a friend of mine,” he said.
   The history behind the old barn remains somewhat of a mystery at this point. Little if any information about the structure exists at the Bowman Museum.
   “There are a lot of buildings in town that we don’t have any history on because we haven’t had anything accumulated on particular sites,” said Steve Lent, the museum’s assistant director.
   At the same time, Lent knows the building has likely stood for more than 100 years. Campbell could probably confirm that estimate. He has recovered square nails during the salvage process, a construction item not used since around 1910.
   For Campbell, each project provides him an interesting and rewarding experience, and the old barn is no different.
   “I’ve often told people that it’s cheaper than therapy,” he quipped.
   Along the way, Campbell has uncovered many unique historical artifacts from old newspapers to horse drawn plows to dynamite boxes.
   “You never know what you are going to find.”
   When the salvage project concludes, the city of Prineville will be left with one less remnant of its past. Most structures of that age and type have failed to hold up over the years.
   “I can’t think of many other barns that are still standing,” Lent said.