Charles Horn sculpture garden continues to delight visitors

Pure Nebraska
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 11:20 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 11:35 AM CDT
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OCONTO, Neb. (KOLN) - On the edge of Oconto in Custer County, you’ll find a wide variety of art pieces made from scrap metal parts, and pieces of equipment you might find on the farm.

The sculpture garden is the work of Charles Horn. He has since passed away, but we caught up with Dan Eggleston of Eggleston Oil Company in Oconto to talk about what the sculpture garden still means to the community.

“Charles Horn was a rancher near Oconto,” Eggleston said. “About 20 years ago, he retired, and he was a man who liked to be busy. One day he went out to his shop, and pinned up a picture of a buffalo on the wall of his shop, and he built one.”

That buffalo is seen in the sculpture garden today, made of nuts, and other metal parts.

“Everything he did here is free hand, no templates, no help,” Eggleston said. “Charles lived by the idea that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

In the sculpture garden, you’ll find all sorts of creative pieces of folk art.

“We have deer, sheep, a cowboy riding a grasshopper,” Eggleston said. “Airplanes, tractors, dinosaurs, and there’s event a tribute to his wife Patsy.”

That tribute comes in the form of an angel sculpture.

“Everything he did, he did because he loved to do it,” Eggleston said. “Later in life, he moved to Kearney, and he moved all of his sculptures here to Oconto. He set this all up, and he turned it over to the community. You’ll notice we take care of it, there are no weeds, and it’s well maintained.”

It turns out the sculpture garden causes people to pull over and visit often.

“I was telling you I see people from New York State, Indiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas,” Eggleston said. “They stop in here, and they’ll be taking photographs, and the kids sit on the animals which is fine because you can’t hurt anything. It’s all built really well.”

“Charles would go through different sales, and buy what people would call junk,” Eggleston said. “He would look at it, and find something he could build a sculpture out of. He could envision it. If you walk around and look, the stuff that he built is amazing, with just a picture on the wall, and his own mind.”

If you’d like to check out the Charles Horn Sculpture Garden, be sure to pull over and enjoy some time in the community of Oconto.