Saved by the ... Wait, where did the Dangberg bell go?

The Dangberg Home Ranch bell once called ranch hands to supper and served as a means of communication between the house and the fields.

It was silent for years before it apparently wandered off sometime during the past two decades.

Dangberg Historic Home Ranch director Suzanne Sturtevant is hoping someone knows what happened to the bell and is willing to donate it back to the park.

Sturtevant last saw the bell when she took a tour of the ranch in 1988 when the state first started talking about forming a park.

"I was looking back at some 2002 and 2003 photos for the bell," she said. "The bell, the pivot and all that mechanism, all of whatever made the bell work, is no longer there. In 1988 we have photos of the bell intact and when we assumed responsibility for management, it was no longer in the bell tower."

The former Dangberg Ranch has had three owners since Sturtevant last saw the bell, but the home ranch itself was in the possession of H.F. Dangberg Jr.'s daughters until the death of the last one, Katrina Glide, in 1995.

Sturtevant doesn't have a great description of the bell and hasn't been able to find a good photo of it.

"It's a big bell," she said. "The bell tower looks like a big trellis and the bell was good-sized. They needed two people to lift it."

The hunt for the bell started when the old tower blew down during December's big wind storm. The bell tower was rebuilt as part of the renovation that has gone on at the ranch over the past year.

"We would love to have the bell donated back to put it back on the new bell tower," she said.

The bell would be a ringing addition to the work done on the ranch so far, which includes the replacement of the roof on pretty much every building on the home ranch.

"We went to great lengths to replace the roof with the green cedar shingles as were there before," she said. "All the shingles had to be prestained the same green color. We had to special order them and they were hand dipped. The last time the roof was done was in the 1940s."

With the roofs fixed, it's time to get the inside of the main house ready for tours, which Sturtevant hopes to start on April 1.Tours will be limited and because Sturtevant is the only tour guide, there will only be four a week.

The next phase of work on the Home Ranch will begin in May when workers begin painting the building and repairing the wooden columns and railing and replacing broken windows and screens.

"The facelift will give it a whole new look," Sturtevant said. "We'll be working on the bunkhouse the main house, the laundry building and repairing the wooden doors on the brick building. When all that's done you will start to see how it used to work."

Work on the grounds has included trimming the trees and preparing to start planting the gardens in the summer.

"The girls had prize-winning flowers in the state fair," Sturtevant said. "I've got a call into the master gardeners to bring back the plantings out there. They had peonies, narcissus and nice rose bushes. We want to bring back the lawn in that manicured look."

Work on the ranch is being funded by $2 million in Question 1 money.

"We are close to the point where we will need additional funding," she said. "We're going to need $7 million overall to complete the work."

Sturtevant said the state is seeking authorization from the Legislature for a full-time and a part-time position at the ranch.


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