1733 Ranch Barn

    Photo submitted by Nathan Huegel

    1733 RANCH BARN
    Largest Barn in the World

    The ranch was built and developed by H. D. Watson,
    located 1733 miles from Boston and 1733 miles from San Francisco.

    The following is from a newspaper clipping in the
    possession of Dale Wheat and Barbara Wheat Snow.
The 1733 Ranch's barn, which measured over a city block in length, at one time was the world's largest barn, according to A. J. Schaaf of McCook, who was ranch foreman. The 3-story building was torn down in the 1930's.

By Gene Budig
McCook, Neb. - Like most old-times, A.J. Schaaf of McCook isn't short on stories about the "good old days."

And the 84-year-old has carefully prepared logs of facts and figures, press clippings and photo albums to support his tales of reminiscence. The majority of Schaff's stories date back to the early 1920's when he was the foreman of the old 1733 Ranch, which at the time had the distinction of having the largest barn in the world.

The 1,500 acres spread, five miles west of Kearny on Highway 30, was so named because of its location. The ranch was mid-way between Boston and San Francisco. Financed by a group of Nebraska investors, the 1733 centered its operations around the rearing of registered cattle, hogs and chickens. "During my 4-year association with the ranch, nothing but registered animals set foot on the place," Schaaf said in a tone of pride.

"Quite a few of our prize animals won the ranch top rating in national judging contests," he said. A.J. still has a large selection of the trophies won by the 1733 stock in storage.

Tops in Poultry

The majority of the now slightly tarnished trophies were won by the ranch's poultry department. The trophies carry inscriptions from shows in New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle as well as Canada and Cuba.

The McCook man, who now operates a small grocery store as a pastime, boasts the rasing (sic) of top-flight commercial animals wasn't the only feather in the Kearney ranch's cap. "Why, it was the 1733 that first introduced the Ring Neck pheasants to Nebraska hunters." He said the ranch hands used to pen the imported pheasants until they could care for themselves.

Schaaf recalls the ranch used to keep 150 head of cattle and 1,200 hogs for breeding purposes. "As for the chickens, I couldn't even start to estimate how many we kept."

"We'd keep one man busy just leading site tours."

The giant white frame barn was well over a city block in length. "And remember," Schaaf said, "the barn was 3 stories high. When new management took over in the 1930's, the barn was torn down," he said. "After they finally got the big thing down, there was lumbar stacked shoulder high in every direction."

The 40-room house, now used as a dance hall, was equally impressive. Schaaf disclosed that the majority of the ranch's 45 employees bunked at the main house. "We could feed and house nearly 75 persons without too much trouble."

Schaaf and his 79-year-old wife, Rose, have 6 children, four of whom live in McCook. The other two live in Kearney.

Ranch hand's home on the 1733 Ranch

Back to Stories and Pictures

buffaloMJH, Buffalo County NEGenWeb Project © 2002-2006