8154: Taylor, Nebraska and the Taylor Villagers

Lazy D boy in Taylor, NE

In early 2020 I traveled across the country over the course of three weeks with my daughter and three grandchildren.    During this trip we traveled 8154 miles across 20 states and visited over 100 destinations, saw all sorts of animals, all sorts of geography, 10 National Parks and Monuments, various state parks, oceans, deserts, mountains, beaches, grasslands, canyons and more. This is the sixth in a series of posts about some of the fun from this EPIC Road Trip. 

As we drove through Nebraska ‘s Sandhills, we took a detour from Nebraska Hwy 2 heading east and hopped on US 183 to go north to the small community of Taylor.  I had received a recommendation from the staff of the Knight Museum in Alliance that this would be a nice match for the kind of things I look for on my road trips.  The whole idea was to visit the “Taylor Villagers,” a unique collection of mainly life-size plywood figures that dot the town and the surrounding Loup County in central Nebraska.  It was a fun detour.  (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz)

TAYLOR, NEBRASKA

Taylor is a small town.  In fact, many of the roads in the community are still dirt roads. Despite this, the town is the county seat for Loup County.  Originally settled in 1883 and named for pioneer settler Ed Taylor, the town had a population of 190 in the 2010 U.S. Census (it is estimated that there were 200 residents in 2019). It is the county seat of Loup County (named after the Pawnee Loup Tribe), which in 2010 had a population of 632 people.  This made the county the 10th least populous county in the entire United States.  The town sits on US Route 183 and also has Nebraska Highway 91 passing through it.  The town does have a post office and it is home to the historic Pavilion Hotel, which was built in 1887 by Herman Carter in anticipation of arrival of the railroad, which was just 13 miles east in Burwell, Nebraska. Sadly, the railroad never came.  The hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Taylor, Nebraska Post Office
Muddy Dirt Road in Taylor, Nebraska. It was a cold January morning.
Nebraska Highway 91
The old Pavilion Hotel – built in 1887

THE TAYLOR VILLAGERS

Whoa!

TAYLOR VILLAGERS

A couple walks near the historic hotel.

The Taylor Villagers are the main attraction in this small town.  They represent the history of the community.  In fact, many of the over 120 “Villagers” are re-creations of real people that have lived and worked in the town over the years. All of these have been made by local artist Marah Sandoz who began her Villager project in 2003.  Since that time Sandoz has placed a few new ones each year and there are now over 120 Villagers dotting the town and county. Some of the Villagers have been placed in front of historical buildings and the museum.  Others represent local pastimes, transportation, occupations and even historic people from the early days.  Marah has done something unique as well…many of the pieces are in black and white to “reflect the 1900s.”

During our visit in late January, we drove around most of the town looking for the various Villager figures.  I know we missed some, but following is a nice collection of some of those we got.  The town of Taylor has made a nice color pamphlet with a map of all of the locations.  The blue numbered items actually represent real people.  The red numbered items are the most recent Villagers.  I have tried to add captions under each photo and include the corresponding map number when possible.

Taylor “Villager” Map (courtesy of taylorne.com)
Welcome to Taylor with real historic citizen Farmer Hodson waving (4)
Flag Salute Team (58)
4-H Kids with their Prize Bull (57)
Boy delivering milk bottles (11) located in front of the Lazy D
Katelynn & baby Buggy (14)
Station Attendants Ralph & Hank (13) exchanging news in front of the historic Farmers Filling Station.
Churchgoers William & Rose (9) in front of historic Congregational Church (est. 1893)
Kids making a snowman (no number)
County Road Workers with Shovels (6)
Men with Feed Wagon (15)
Mountain Man with Gun (7) in front of the Wildlife Inn
Woman carrying pot (number unknown)
Kids Wishing for Candy (32)
Raymond & Alice Poland (34) — not sure but assuming,,,,
Woman Churning Butter (54)
Woman Carrying Tray (53)
Sleigh Ride (number unknown)
Mable Hyde with Parade Horse (29)
Sheriff George Brock (64)
Window Shoppers (32)

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  Stories, including the one above, will be included. You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

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