They're called "tobacco barns" in Kentucky but as any Wisconsin farmer will tell you, the barn is where you keep the cows. The long structures that still dot the local landscape are "tobacco sheds" and are designed for air-drying the tobacco plants that hang from laths in the rafters.
There are actually two designs in use: the old style has a central wagon trail between upright posts, and the crosspieces reach up to the rafters. In the more modern -- and most would say safer -- version, a series of diagonal buttresses hold up the crossbeams and roof, and make access to the sides of the sheds and the rafters, more convenient. The ventilation shutters on the outside of the sheds either swing open or operate like regular shutters found on windows.
For more pictures of tobacco sheds and the local farming lifestyle, view the gallery above.
Tobacco farming is labor-intensive and still draws transient workers
In a small town in southwestern Ontario, itinerant tobacco workers sweep in to make money harvesting The Back-breaking Leaf. Peabody award-winning British director Terrence McCartney-Filgate documented the phenomenon for a Canadian television series in July 1959. The film, according to Toronto Film Festival's Film Reference Library, "helped refine the free-form, unscripted, observational approach" to documentary filmmaking.
Different than Wisconsin varieties, as depicted here the plant was harvested by the leaf, and flue-cured, that is, dried by heat, in massive tobacco barns for use in cigarettes. The video is in the archives of the National Film Board of Canada.