This is a 1900 photo of the Mule Barn and Rankin home site looking east on what is now Park Street. A historical marker will soon be installed on the property.
An Atchison County pioneer farmer, his home and iconic mule barn soon will be commemorated by a new historical marker at Park and 10th Streets in Tarkio. David Rankin (1825-1910) built the octagonal brick mule barn in 1892. With its original cupola, it rose 114 feet (roughly equivalent to an 11-story building today). The barn, declared a national historical landmark in the early 1970s, was destroyed by fire in 1989, and had been used by Tarkio College as a resident theatre.
Rankin had farm holdings of more than 24,000 acres in Atchison and nearby counties, operating what was called “America’s Largest Feeding Farm,” circa 1900. He was an innovator in agriculture as well as an entrepreneur behind many businesses that served the area and a benefactor of several local institutions.
The new marker, manufactured by Sewah Studios of Marietta, Ohio, is scheduled for delivery in early November. It is sponsored by Rankin descendants and the Mule Barn Theatre Guild. In addition to the Guild, other community groups including the Tarkio Chamber of Commerce, the Tarkio Lions Club and the Tarkio Rotary Club have contributed to the funding, as have descendants of David Rankin’s four children. The project has been led by Anne Amthor of the Mule Barn Theatre Guild, and Al Rankin, a great-great-grandson of David Rankin.