Boots on a fence

boots on fence posts near Ash Hollow in western Nebraska

Ash Hollow area, western Nebraska, July 8, 2010

This is something we had seen years ago in this area of Nebraska and I was hoping to be able to get a picture to share. 

The biggest question I think that most people have when they see this is, “Why?”

I didn’t know, so I did a search.  I don’t know if they are right, but, being from Nebraska where they built houses out of sod in pioneer days due to lack of wood,  I like the last two answers the best.

    “In 1988, a historian turned up a report of another row of boot-topped fence posts east of Mount Rushmore. Those boots were said to have belonged to ranch hands who quit.” American Profile

    “David Feldman in Why do Clocks Run Clockwise? posits that 1) the boots may deter coyotes. 2) It’s better to stink up a fencepost than a house. 3) Some people just do things.”

    “Cowboy boots on fence posts at ranches isn’t something new. The (Longmont Times-Call) article mentions how it used to be a signal that a ranch or homeowner was at home when there was a cowboy boot sitting on top of a fence.”  Allens Boot Blog

    “In the Southwest exists a similar practice, that of placing old, worn boots upside down on fence posts by the side of a road. Driving along, one passes upturned boot after upturned boot. Some people tell us these boots are a way for a homeowner to indicate if he’s gone to town for the day; on his way out, he stops where his driveway meets the road and adjusts the boot so its toe points outwards. When the toe is pointing towards the house, he’s telling the world he’s home. Others say it’s just a boot-on-a-fencepost thing with no more rhyme or reason to it than there is to those sneakers hanging over telephone wires.”

    “Before treated wood farmers would put cans, old pie plates, and yes, old boots on top of wood posts to keep them from rotting.” kjb answers

    “Boot fences came out of wood being scarce and expensive in the western plains. Barbed wire was strung between fence-posts. Whenever possible, old boots capped the tops of the wooden poles to keep them from rotting. It’s a unique sight to see – old boots strung out on a line!” Boots In Nebraska on flickr


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