Western frontier town comes alive in Dawes County - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Western frontier town comes alive in Dawes County

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As we continue to discover the people, places, and things that make Dawes County a great place to live, work and explore, we take you to see a gem hidden deep within the Nebraska Badlands, where you can find a hot meal, a warm bed, and a heavy helping of American culture.

"It started out as a hobby so I could display my collection in its natural setting," says Merlin Kesselring, owner of the High Plains Homestead and Drifter Cookshack.

Kesselring never intended for his collection of American cultural artifacts to spark a successful business.

"But then people started coming and this is what it grew to," says Kesselring.  "But there's no place, like this place, near this place."

The High Plains homestead and Cookshack, allows visitors to step back in time and experience the Midwest as it appeared in the early 1900's.

When Kesselring began construction in 1997, it quickly became a family affair.

"My son and I [mostly built it], grandson helped some, neighbors helped some once in a while," says Kesselring.  "But I built lots of it."

"We enjoy it immensely," says Kesselring's daughter-in-law, Linda Kesselring, who plays a crucial role in the every day happenings around the High Plains Homestead.  "We get to meet... just great people from all over the world. In state, out of state and everyone seems to really enjoy themselves. And that's what counts."

Around a dozen buildings, both restored and newly constructed, help recreate the feel of an authentic Midwestern frontier town.

"There used to be a blacksmith shop about every 20 miles," says Merlin Kesselring.  "The post office, I built. It's a replica of the post office I grew up with as a boy."

What started as Kesselring's hobby has become much more.

"I thought I'd try to recreate some Americana," says Kesselring. "So any kids behind me, if they want to get an idea of what it was like or the feel of it, it will be here."

The High Plains Homestead and Drifter Cookshack are celebrating their 15th year of service.

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