Gallery puts spotlight on ranching

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 11:37 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The next time you pay a visit to the campus of Chadron State College, you might want to visit the Coffee Gallery, for an education in ranch heritage.

We talked with First National Bank of Chadron President Steve Cleveland about the gallery. “It will walk you through the development of the cattle industry in northwest Nebraska, southwest South Dakota, and eastern Wyoming,” Cleveland said. “When you walk into the exhibit, you will learn how the cattle were brought into this area, you’ll learn about the cowboys who took care of the cattle, and then you’ll learn a little bit about open range ranching.”

Cleveland says “open range” ranching is the type of ranching that happened before the settlers came. “Each of the large ranches had their own range that they would manage, and they would keep their distance. They probably had about 60 miles of social distancing,” Cleveland joked. “Each ranch would have a range of 200 to 300,000 acres.”

The Coffee Gallery also features a look at how women played a big role in early ranching history. In some cases, a spouse would pass away. And the other spouse would continue on with the legacy of the ranch. That is remembered at the gallery.

Early banking is highlighted at the gallery as well. Bartlett Richards, who was connected to the Spade Ranch, established First National Bank of Chadron. In 1900, Col. C.F. Coffee traded 2,000 head of cows and calves for controlling interest in the bank. Steve Cleveland is now president of that bank. “Over the years, we’ve put together lots of archives, and we’ve used those archives to help document the development of the cattle industry.”

The Coffee Gallery helps to memorialize the impact of C.F. Coffee on the Chadron community. His grandson, Bill Coffee, and wife Virginia, were the lead donors for the construction of the Coffee Gallery.

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