Friends of the Farm raise a glass (of milk) to McPolin Dairy Farm’s 100 years

PARK CITY, Utah — Truly a Park City landmark, the city demarcated August as the McPolin Farm’s centennial month. Originally, the farm raised cattle and hogs, but in 1922 the McPolin family transitioned to a dairy farm.

“Part of that transition included building a dairy barn, and it was completed in 1922,” said Friends of the Farm member Patricia Stokes. “It was built with salvaged mine timbers as well as lumber from [local mills]. Daniel McPolin and his two sons, Patrick and Edward, built this barn. What’s notable about it is that it was built without any nails or screws, using mortise and tenon joints.”

The land was originally homesteaded by Harrison McLane. Photo: ca 1930s, Park City Historical Society & Museum.

Dan McPolin, an Irish immigrant from County Cork, was initially a miner until an injury forced him out of the industry in 1890. Dan and his wife Isabelle became prominent entrepreneurs in town. According to Stokes, they owned a saloon, a hotel, restaurant, Park City Bottling Works, confectionery, lumberyard, coal yard, and a boarding house. Dan also managed a meat market, perhaps being the inspiration to raise cattle and hogs himself.

In 1896, McPolin purchased 80 acres from Harrison McClane, the land’s homesteader. Then in 1901, he purchased additional property, thus creating the 170-acre parcel of land listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a Park City Historic Site.

Patrick McPolin inherited the farm from his father and sold it to Dr. D.A. Osguthorpe in 1947.

Photo: undated ca 1980s-2000s, Park City Historical Society & Museum.

“The McPolins sold their property, and they had 22 dairy cows at that time. Dr. Osguthorpe was able to grow the farm to over 100 dairy cows, and he added some improvements to the site,” said Friend of the Farm Rebecca Ward.

Many of the improvements by Osguthorpe are still there today, like the 40-foot silos, machinery shed, 500-square-foot milking parlor and granary addition, which is the iconic front of the barn where the flag and wreath are hung.

Friends of the Farm is a group of Park City and Summit County volunteers interested in helping preserve the history of the McPolin barn and farm.

Photo: ca 1988, Park City Historical Society & Museum.

The group is not a decision-making entity but provides input and guidance to the city on maintaining or improving the property. Throughout the year, Friends of the Farm host seasonal events like its Full Moon Snowshoe, Your Barn Door is Open party, and the Scarecrow Festival.

In 2016, the city invested in structural upgrades so that the barn is seismically sound and protected from wind and snow loads. Those structural upgrades allow the city to open the barn doors to the public on limited occasions.

Photo: ca 1973-1986, Park City Historical Society & Museum.

Currently, you’ll see cows on the property. “[The city is] working on regenerative and sustainability plans for the property, said Ward. “There’s impacted soil on the property which has led to water runoff problems and noxious weeds. And it has started mob grazing, which is where they rotate the cows in contained areas to restore deep-rooted native plants to capture and retain water and improve the soil health and improve carbon sequestration.”

On August 19 and September 16, the McPolin Barn is open for educational tours for $5. Those interested can register via the Park City Marc website. The tours offer much more history and a unique chance to enter these historic buildings.

“I feel strongly that this landmark is a sign of welcome,” said Stokes. “Not only for folks who live here but for visitors who come in. And every time I returned from wandering somewhere, I see that barn, and I know I’m home.”

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