For more years than they can remember, Butch Feil and Harry Safford have been volunteering at the Legacy of the Plains Museum.

Feil, 91, and Safford, 87, have been family friends for a long time. On Thursdays, they work in the shop to the east of the main display buildings at the Legacy of the Plains Museum doing whatever they can to help out. The volunteer work started simply because someone asked.

“Tim Shoemaker saw me one day and said you ought to come out to the Farm and Ranch Museum (Legacy of the Plains) and help out there, so we did,” Feil said. “I don’t remember when, but it was a lot of years ago.”

The volunteer gig keeps those who do it active and helps out the museum.

“We have a lot of fun doing different things and trying to solve the problems that we can have out here,” Feil said.

Feil and Safford plan to continue volunteering at the museum as long as they’re able. They said the help they get from the other people in the shop is key to keeping things running.

“There are mechanics out here that know a lot more about these things than we do, so we go to them,” Safford said. “It’s interesting to get to visit with some of them that’s been mechanics for a number of years.”

Safford said there isn’t a specific job for the two of them, but they do whatever is asked of them.

“They’re always wanting to move the tractors here or there, change the place they park them,” he said. “We do a lot of moving the tractors around to different places. We just do odd jobs, whatever they want done.”

Feil and Safford are quick to point out the many other volunteers in the shop and the work that they do for the museum.

Working with kids who may be seeing a piece of equipment or a tool for the first time is rewarding.

“They’re all excited,” Feil said. “They all pay attention when you talk to them about it. The kids have a ball when they’re out here.”

A recent event brought about 600 fourth graders to the museum over the course of two days. Feil and Safford were part of the block and tackle demonstration, one of the many stations each student visited.

Prior to retirement, Feil was a farmer, then was with Tri-State Supply and was field manager for Chester B. Brown and the Kelley Bean Company for a number of years. Stafford was raised on a family farm in Horseshoe Bend south of McGrew and has lived there all his life, purchasing his 160-acre farm from his folks in 1963.

Both men said they would like to see more people take advantage of the museum.

“We have the nicest museum in western Nebraska, and probably some other states,” Feil said. “There’s one building full of tractors and trucks and pickups and then they’ve got the museum set up that tells the story about all kinds of things that happened here in the valley.”


Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald and oversees the Gering Courier as editor. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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