Art in Ogallala

From bronze statues to murals, Ogallala offers an incredible array of beautiful artwork in public spaces.

“The Trail Boss” bronze atop Boot Hill is a must-see.  At home in the rugged landscape of Ogallala’s historic  cemetery, this drover faces south, looking back over the Texas Trail that brought so many drovers and herds of longhorns to town in the wild 1870s and 1880s.  “The Trail Boss” is the creation of Texas artist Robert Summers.  Ogallala’s statue was cast from the mold of the original work that is on display in Plano, TX.

Ogallala’s Post Office mural also depicts the town’s heritage as the railhead at the end of the Texas Trail. “Long Horns” by artist Frank Mechau was completed in 1938. It is an excellent example of the federally funded art projects of the 1930s that were created to provide employment during the Great Depression. Much of this artwork was created in small town post offices. The Post Office is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Artist Kate Jensen Witt has created three dynamic public murals located around her hometown of Ogallala. Visitors entering town from the I-80 interchange are greeted by this colorful large-scale mural depicting local history icons like the Mansion on the Hill and an Old West dance hall girl. Modern-day symbols include a sailboat and kayaker riding the waves of Lake McConaughy and a soapbox derby driver.   Witt has also painted murals downtown on the back of the Driftwood restaurant and in the alley near Morgan Delazene’s Edward D. Jones office.

Enjoy artwork inside and out at the Petrified Wood and Art Gallery at 418 East 1st.   This larger-than-life fiberglass boot was painted by artist Lisa Norman, and is a fitting tribute to Nebraska’s Cowboy Capital.  A Keith County resident at the time of its completion, Norman now makes her home in Wyoming.

Another bronze figure greets visitors to downtown Ogallala at the Spruce Street Station, a preserved Standard Oil station built in 1922.  “Hugh,” a friendly hometown mechanic, embodies the spirit of the Lincoln Highway era. It was a time when an attendant would pump your gas, check your oil, and wave you on your way with a smile. The Spruce Street Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ogallala history comes alive in this unique hand-carved wall art by Nebraska artist Rex Miller.  The colorful piece greets patrons at the entryway of the new Kathleen Lute Public Library, inviting them to discover the magic that can come from the pages of a book.