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NORTHWEST TRAIL LIST

7 The Rolling Star barn quilt pattern was purposely located along the well-traveled Decatur County road leading to and from the Traer Community so that many passers-by could enjoy this colorful piece of art.  The vibrant purples immediately catches the eye and symbolizes the family’s allegiance to Kansas State University for over 50 years.  Highlights of yellow speak to the majority of days that are filled with sunshine on the high plains.  Rural NW Kansas is all about the radiant blue sky as the sun rises and then at times changes into brilliant orange as the sun sinks in the west.  The 160 acres was homesteaded by M. F. Crum who received the deed from the US Government in 1884.  It was sold to Paul Leitner, Jr in 1903.  Stories from early settlers in this area told of Mr. Leitner riding his bike north some 20 mile to the Republican River and bringing back 100s of Cottonwood saplings that served as a formidable windbreak from cold winter winds for nearly 10 decades.  Recent years of lingering drought took a toll on the trees to the east as well as the flow of water in the Beaver Creek.  The property stayed in the Leitner family until 1974 when it sold to Rich and Connie Grafel.  Taking a cue from the previous owner, they planted a three-row evergreen and pine tree windbreak to ward off southern summer winds and built their home in 1979.  The artwork was painted by longtime family friend Diana Steinmetz who grew up in the Traer area and still relishes the opportunities found in farming the land and livestock production.

17  May Family Farms

1 Heartland Veterinary Service of Oberlin PA's barn art  is a representation of the animals that they care for.  Heartland Veterinary Service started in 2015 with Dr. Travis Hissong and wife, Abby, buying the Oberlin location of Countryside Veterinary Clinic from his business partner.  Dr. Hissong has been in practice since 1996 and associate veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Bailey since 2014. 

5 Traer sign  Diana Steinmetz designed and painted this barn art in memory of Rich Grafel, a long-time friend

6 Livery Stable to Barn The applique design is representative of the days-gone-by when all went to town and parked their buggy at the livery stable while their horses were taken care of.   The land was the homestead of Jasper Mines, 1890.  He was the son of Hans Mines. Jasper and his brother, Chris, owned land immediately south of Oberlin.  The livery stable was built at the turn of the century in the block South of Hall St and Rodehaver Ave in Oberlin.  At about 1926-27, the livery stable was torn down either in sections or piece by piece and brought to this location to build this huge barn (largest in NW Ks).  They used horses, wagons and manual labor to transport all the materials to this destination.  WOW What a major operation in those days.  The Barn is 40 ft Height, 68 ft Width, and 120 ft Length.  The land is now owned by Millard Kyte.

8 Weather Vane. The Greg and Amanda Grafel farmstead located just west of Traer has been in the family since 1905 when the property was purchased by Floyd Harshman from Edward Blackmore.  The barn quilt pattern is called Weather Vane and is a very appropriate display for this five generation family farm.  The two-story home was completed in 1916.  Obviously the green color represents all of the seasonal crops grown along the Beaver Creek Valley.  Blue represents both threatening skies and blazing hot summer days with no clouds in sight.  The sunflower, our state flower, is the reason for adding the yellow hue.  While the barn on which the artwork is displayed was moved in from neighboring Rawlins County in 2010, the red color draws attention to the twin livestock barns.  Built on this property and the neighboring quarter by Mr. Harshman in the 1920s, both are still pertinent to the farming and livestock operation.  The artwork was painted by longtime family friend Diana Steinmetz who is an avid promoter of rural values and local culture.

9 The Heritage. Welcome to the Wesch Family Century Farm that was homesteaded by Reimer C. Wesch in 1895 and received the Land Patent in 1899.   It has been in the Wesch family continuously for over 117 years.  The original concrete milk house from 1897, built from sand in the pasture, is still standing.  The Barn Art Quilt display was designed and painted by Norma Unger and depicts the living agricultural seasons in the artwork.  The Wesch Century Farm has changed over the years and now proudly includes approximately 4000 trees and shrubs planted by the Wesch family over the last 20 years.  The Art Quilt is a tribute to the tree and plant growth on the Wesch Family Century Farm. 

Coordinates:  N 39.96214 W 100.66465

10 The elevator in Traer stands as a monument to the ingenuity of building elevators as it was one of the first slip form elevators ever built about 1950.  The concrete slab in the roadway south of the elevator was poured by local residents to allow them to cross the Beaver Creek during times of flood.  Its exact construction date is not known but probably in the 1930’s.   Because of better conservation and farming methods, Beaver Creek has become just another dry ditch.

11 Three miles south and ½ mile west of the farm is the remains of Elephant Rock perched high on a rock ledge south of Beaver Creek.  Unfortunately the Elephant met its demise during a thunderstorm in April of 2007.  The Elephant Rock, which looked very much like a real elephant, was noted by General Eugene Carr in an 1869 Cavalry expedition from near Fort Wallace to Fort McPherson Nebraska as it was a landmark for a creek crossing.  Discovering a fresh Indian trail at the crossing, General Carr followed the trail 8 miles that resulted in a battle two miles NE of Cedar Bluffs. Casualties of the battle were 4 cavalrymen dead and 25 Indians killed. Elephant Rock Coordinates: N 39.91004 W 100,67180

Top picture:  Original Elephant Rock       Bottom picture:  What remains

12 An old Gold mine operated by Vic Anderson in the early 1900’s is located about 1/3 mile WNW of Elephant Rock or 1 mile SSW of Traer.  No one recalls the recluse ever finding Gold but the remains of the mine are still visible.  It appears as a large “U” shape that was dug with horses and a dirt slip.  Old Trees mark the mine and the trees are visible from the road as it angles SW below the remains of Elephant Rock.  Vic Anderson Gold mine coordinates:  N 39.91196 W 100.67672

16 Great Western Cattle Trail, US Highway 36  During 1874-1897, The Western Cattle Trail trekked from Texas to Canada with cowboys herding their longhorn cattle across the Plains States.  The path taken through Decatur County traversed from the southeast crossing over now US Highway 83 crisscrossing through the county northwesterly intersecting again over now US Highway 36.  These barn art designs represent the pathway taken by these hardworking men driving their herds and encountering many hardships while making a living from the land.  These pieces have been posted at the markers set to show the spot.

15 The Barn Art was designed to honor my parents as my dad, Floyd, was a handyman who was accomplished in many trades and the apple for my mother, Nathalie, who was a teacher at the Oberlin Elementary School.  The Air Force Symbol represents my brother who is retired officer of the Air Force and the sheriff’s badge for my service as Decatur County Sheriff. The B is for the Berndt/Badsky Families for the heritage of the land.  Originally owned by Henry Baumgarten from 1890-92, my great grandfather, Herman, and his son, Arthur acquired the land in the 1920’s.  The house that was built on the SE ¼ by the Baumgarten’s was torn down and used by Herman and Art to build the residence present today.

14 The Path.  The design represents the beautiful sunrises or sunsets in Western Kansas.  Wheat stalks are for our wheat-farmer Dad (Tony) and the rolling fields for his being one of the first to use the method of contour farming. The purple road to the cross is the path to Salvation John 3:16. The barn, which has been restored, was built in 1902.  The land was homesteaded in 1879 by Fremont Chapin and purchased by the Andrew & Tony Unger Family in 1929.

13 The Prairie Sunflower. This barn quilt pattern is a wild sunflower pattern to highlight the color and beauty of this area. This barn has been in our farm family since 1939. The date of the construction is not known for sure. This barn almost blew over 4 times by high winds and tornado and has now been fully restored. The Sunflower represents the wild sunflowers that dominate the countryside.  Coordinates: N 39.911523 W 100.697192

4 Mariner’s Compass.  The barn was built in the early 1900’s by Herman Muller and it had many stalls for horses and cows; also a pigeon loft.

2 Oberlin Livestock Auction, LLC

3 Wheat and Corn.  Shaw-Gawith Fertilizer, LLC Building.  The method of quilting with applique and embroidery work is demonstrated with this barn art.  The wheat and corn is applicable to a fertilizer-seed dealer and to the types of farming in the county.  The design is also a tribute to Rich Shaw and the Shaw Family who have taken care of their land for over a 100 years using various methods of conservation of the soil.