A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


   We were following the Oregon Trail backwards, east to Ogallala, Nebraska. I breezed by a barn photo opportunity and did a U-turn to go back for it. Just as I finished with my photo, an old fellow in his pick-up slowed to a stop across the road and even more slowly walked on over to us. He presented each of us with a Nebraska 25 cent piece. His name was Gordon and he talked with us a good 15 minutes as cars whizzed by behind him.

  The barn was his as was most of the land around there. He had donated the land for the Chimney Rock Visitor center a mile and a half up the road. Gordon had an interesting life to tell. He owned the land around Chimney Rock and the State wanted to build their visitor center right by the rock spire that had been a landmark way point for the early pioneers on the Oregon Trail. But Gordon told them they “would be going to the bank for a long time” if they wanted that piece of land. He didn’t want the center so close to such an important piece of early pioneer history. 

   He said he had retired 4 times as he never was able to put any “money in a sock”, so he kept on doing something new. He built houses out of straw, use to run wagon trains around the area to give tourists an idea what it was like for the pioneers, and he even served chuck wagon meals. Now he just has some cattle on his land. In the winter he enjoys duck hunting and each year will shoot just one deer "for the meat". His “hired hand” Patty (his wife), he said he had with him for 58 years. Gordon was 78.
   He told us how he likes to help out those in need. For awhile he was hiring newly released prisoners from the state penitentiary.  "The first guy was in for drugs and his mind was all messed up. He robbed me blind.” One guy had been in prison for dousing a man with gasoline and trying to set him on fire. “Only his matches were wet and he couldn’t finish the job.” Another was a Mexican fellow who was in for selling drugs. “He was a good worker, for awhile. All of them though were only interested in the paycheck.”
   Later at the Chimney Rock visitor center we saw a bronze plaque outside mentioning the land was donated by Gordon and Patty Howard, so he was after all, the real deal.

The barn by the way was not built in 1910 as it shows under the roof on the end of the building. It was a recreation of such a barn and Gordon had built it only 20 some years ago.

This is linked to Tricia's Bluff Area Daily Barn Charm


  1. Wow what a very interesting visit withe Gordon. It's wonderful people like this that perserve our history! Kudos to him n his wife!
    BTW...love that barn...very unique!

  2. what perfect timing you had to meet gordon. would love to talk to this interesting man! great shots!

  3. That rock formation is amazing!

  4. a gorgeous barn - even if it was 'recreated' only 20 yrs ago. Gordon is a treasure. what a great man...

  5. How awesome to get to talk to the owner, very cool! I love the barn! The windmill in back is a great added touch to the photo.

  6. My goodness, what a sweet man. The barn is fantastic & love the windmill!

    Very interesting learning all about the history there... we rarely ever get the whole story, because most barn shots are drivebys, so this is very nice! Thank you for stopping & listening to his story & sharing it w/ us here at Barn Charm!!! =)

  7. wow. I could spend a day and a half listening to Gordon and his stories. what a guy. I'm happy you included a photo of him. my favorite part about the photo is his hand grasping your side mirror bracket. I wonder how many Nebraska 25 cent pieces he carried in his pocket on any given day. that is one charming barn - it's a wonderful replica and certainly looks weathered, just like Gordon himself. I can't figure if that is a railroad track running in front of it, or a rail fence or something. but in the Gordon shot I see a railroad track.
    I bet talking with him is one of your best (among many) memories from the road trip. the last time I drove out west it was to N.M. and I took the Sante Fe trail route. I couldn't stop being amazed at how the settlers must have felt to cross that vast prairie and finally see the mountain ranges of Colorado/N.M. in the distance.
    great shots John. happy day to you and Sinbad little guy.

  8. The barn is really unique and I love the entire post...what an interesting guy!

    My barn is at Time Stand Still.

  9. I bet Gordon didn't let you get a word in edgewise if he managed to tell you all that in 15 minutes! What a treat to have met him.

  10. Love the barn, hate the idea of snakes.

  11. What an interesting fellow! Great stories!


I appreciate my commenters. Thank you. Sometimes you may ask a question which I am all too happy to answer. But if your comment comes in as Betsy-noreply-comment - I cannot reply back. Change you comment settings to include an e-mail address and then bloggers can reply.