Displaying Collectibles on a Large Scale

It's All Trew: crafting monuments and large displays to show off your collection or repurpose old tools.

Trew Rock Island

A monument to the Rock Island Railroad, crafted from railroad debris.

Content Tools

This is the second article in a series discussing ways to display collections (read part one here or go on to part three). During my 40-plus years of active collecting, I am continually amazed by the imagination and talent of collectors, and even more amazed by the varied ways in which they display their collected items. Here are a few we've stumbled onto.

Railroad Monument

The Rock Island Railroad was established in 1901, later went bankrupt and the track was removed in 1985. The Trew Ranch's north boundary contained seven miles of railroad. We endured many prairie fires set by hot boxes on trains, saw many wrecks at crossings and witnessed three derailments. In 1985, the track was removed and shipped to China and the ties went to Houston. While walking the old right-of-way for exercise, we picked up many pieces left behind and created the monument shown on this page. These may be the only Rock Island items left recalling the history of this departed area fixture.

Barbed Wire Tribute

The Devil's Rope Museum opened in 1991. In 1993, a barbed wire collector from Keller, Texas, donated his yard ornament to the museum. The piece consists of two balls of barbed wire weighing more than 750 pounds sitting atop plow discs mounted on Kansas limestone posts. The old wrought iron fence section in-between once stood around a Texas courthouse. Each of the items in the monument is more than 100 years old. A sign stating "Tribute to Barbed Wire" was added at the museum and every tourist who stops by snaps a photo of this now-famous old Route 66 icon.

"Iron Age" Critter

While passing through Gage, Okla., in 2005, we nearly had a wreck getting stopped and turned so we could take photos of the wheel dinosaur. I counted more than 175 wheels of all sizes, plus old transmission and clutch-housing pans on the face. There's no telling the weight of the critter, but the piece stands some 14 feet tall. My only regret is that I wasn't there when this collection of wheels was put together. (Editor's note: This statue was created by artist Jim Powers. More of his work can be viewed here.)

Airborne Spreader

Then there's the flying manure spreader near Carthage, Mo. (to see a photo, see Farm Collector, December 2006, page 4). Again, we were nearly rear-ended as we stopped to take photos. The mounting was some 20 feet in the air and looked absolutely real, complete with propeller, engine, lanterns on the wings and a pilot wearing flight goggles. So far, this is the ultimate in collector's displays we've seen. FC 

Delbert Trew is a freelance writer, retired rancher and supervisor of the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. His wife, Ruth, collects antique dolls, is secretary/treasurer of the Devil's Rope Museum and the Old Route 66 Association of Texas, and, according to Delbert, "Queen Mother of the local Red Hat club." The two share authorship of this column, and Ruth is the able photographer. Contact them at Trew Ranch, Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002; (806) 779-3164; e-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net