Osage County is abundant with magnificent old barns, including an award winning structure northwest of Overbrook. The Karnes barn was one of a group of winning entries in the Barn Again!: Celebrating An American Icon competition in 1999-2000.
The huge stone structure was built in 1877, by a Charles R. Bronson, whose initials are engraved in a stone placard above the front arch entryway. Bronson came to this area from St. Louis and was land baron, of sorts, owning hundreds of acres of land in the old Ridgeway area, where the massive barn sets.
Interestingly, the barn was originally built to house animals from a Topeka circus. However, by the time the barn was completed, the circus had made other arrangements. While the structure was never used for that purpose, it does retain certain elements reminiscent of that intended use. For example, there is a small basement under one area of the massive front runway. This room was earmarked to house the big circus snakes.
One side of the barn was built to accommodate animals, while the other was to sort hay, grain and wagons, The loft, or hay mow, with hay pulley track still in tact, was also used to store loose hay. A cupola on top of the roof provided ventilation to the loose curing hay. There are three brick toped archways on both the front and back of the barn, providing entryways to all sections of the barn.