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Why are barns painted red?


Shiloh barn painted in a traditional 'barn red".

The image of a red barn in a golden field of wheat is a favorite sight in eastern Washington. There are many stories about the origins of this American tradition. One tale claims that barns are red so the cows can find their way home, definitely a myth as cows are color blind.

According to the National Park Service, barns weren't originally red. Since early farmers in New England didn't have extra money for paint, their barns remained unpainted. In the late 1700s, farmers began looking for ways to protect barn wood from the elements by experimenting with ways to make a protective paint.


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