The Sod House Museum had a simpler start more than 30 years ago. Merle and Linda Block wanted to share the story of their immigrant ancestors, who’d ended up in Nebraska and learned to live off the land, and learned to live within it.
The couple bought the property near the Interstate 80 exit and Merle Block built a sod house. They put up the red barn as a museum, filling it with pioneer-era pieces. To draw the attention of travelers, Merle Block assembled what he called the world’s largest sod-raking plow, four times larger than normal.
They sold souvenirs and accepted donations and, some years, as many as 50,000 people pulled off the interstate and into their lot.
The past and future of Gothenburg’s Sod House Museum and the world’s largest plow
They welcomed new neighbors to the exit — chain hotels and a Pizza Hut, the gas station and an espresso shop.
They shut it down three years ago, and then put it on the market, hoping to find a buyer who would continue its legacy.
“We hated it that we had to close, but the time comes when it doesn’t work,” Merle Block said last year. “The wife said: ‘We’re old.’ You get up into your 80s, you just don’t want to work.”
At 30, Smith is younger than the museum, but he’d grown up with it, and he’d watched the changes to the immediate area.
“It’s the last thing around the exit that someone local owned,” he said. “The rest of it has been bought up by someone from out of town who might not care.”