Home on the Range Cabin - Athol, Kansas
In 1871 or 1872, Dr. Brewster M. Higley wrote a poem about the tiny cabin where he lived in north central Kansas, close to the Nebraska State Line. He called the poem My Western Home and tucked it away as nothing special. But a neighbor found the poem and convinced Higley to share it with others. The poem was first published in a December 1873 issue of the Smith County Pioneer with the title Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam. The fiddler Dan Kelley helped set the poem to music and the song soon began a life of its own.
As Americans fell in love with the simple song, they added versus of their own, as well as the chorus. There was no "Home on the Range" in Higley's original poem. The song become an icon of the American West and in 1947 Home on the Range was named the official state song of Kansas.
The tiny cabin on bank of West Beaver Creek where Higley penned that poem is still standing today. It is in the yard of a private home. THe property has been preserved for visiting by the public, thanks to the Ellen Rust Living Trust which was started by one time residents of the adjacent home. The cabin is kept unlocked and has a small exhibit inside, behind chicken wire. There is also a guest register and they sell a one sheet with the history of the cabin and the song for a quarter (honor system).
The Higley Cabin needs restoration and in April of 2011 and campaign began to raise nearly $100,000 for that work. In the first month, over $25,000 was raised, the bulk of that money coming from a concert by cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey who did a benefit concert at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper Club in Benton, Kansas. Donations may be sent to the Ellen Rust Living Trust, 213 West New York Street, Smith Center, Kansas 66967.
To reach the Home on the Range Cabin drive north of US Highway 36 on K-8 8 miles, and turn west on the private drive where you see the stone sign.
Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Sign directing you off Kansas Highway to the Home on the Range Cabin
copyright 2008-2011 by Keith Stokes