The old stone barn we visited yesterday is in the PV pasture we call Lawsons’. The pasture is named for the couple who homesteaded there on the banks of Muggins Creek between Horse Camp and The Creek Place. I do not have many details of their life but know that his first name was Oliver, that they came from “back east” sometime prior to 1920…
… that he and his wife did not have children, that they raised mules, that he died about 1964, and that after they were gone their house was moved to Horse Camp and used as a garage.
Also that the wind and the prairie, as they like to do, have done their best to erase any sign that homesteaders once spent decades trying to tame this little spot of land.
But the Lawsons’ homestead was not a typical homestead for this area, and so some of it actually has withstood the test of time:
The Lawsons, one hundred years ago, with the help of their mules, built from the sandrock that exists naturally here a barn which is still a marvel today.
Coming from any direction but north, the barn is almost hidden from sight because it’s built into a deep cut in the earth. The roof is nearly level with the land surrounding it on three sides.
From the front, though, the barn door leads out into a grassy coulee.
Inside, on the east wall…
… the south wall…
… and the west wall, the barn is at least partially formed by an ancient three-sided sandrock formation.
For the north-facing wall, in a true feat of pioneer engineering genius, Oliver Lawson and his mules stacked sandrocks quarried from the homestead:
The roof, complete with a partial attic, he made from wood…
… along with the door and other features:
Inside the barn and near the door is what my dad guesses is a breeding stall. We do know that Lawson raised mules here.
It’s just astounding to think of how many hours the Lawsons must’ve spent building this barn. It is a treasure from a bygone era. In a perfect world, some modern person would live here now and spend her life maintaining and restoring this masterpiece. But, alas, care like that is probably not even close to being on the corporate ranch agenda. For now, then, because we work here, it’s a treasure we get to share with the cows… at least as long as she’s still standing.
© Tami Blake