Driving along Highway 29, a row of boots can be seen placed on fence posts beside a tattered flag. Some find it endearing, some find it haunting, but many are familiar with the display.

Echo Press readers Edward Peterson and Alyssa Wagner recently asked, “What is the story behind the boot fence?” So we set out to knock on some doors and uncover the story. Literally.

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“Old cowboys go to heaven, but what happens to their boots?” asked Suzanne Blair, stating that the question was the inspiration for what started off as a cute project for her family that they now refer to as “Boot Hill.”

Blair and her husband, Ted, first put up a couple fence posts and an American flag at the edge of their property more than a decade ago. They then placed old Western boots that belonged to them and their kids on the fence posts. They thought that would be it.

“There was this girl, I don’t remember her name, who would drive her father past the boots every time she took him to the doctor,” Blair said. “He loved the boots and always wanted his to be put there after he passed.”

When the girl lost her father, she called up the Blairs and asked for permission to display an old pair of his boots. They happily obliged.

“Those boots were taken,” said Blair with a heavy heart. “The girl wrote in to the paper, and whoever took them mailed those boots back to us.”

The boots were placed back on the fence posts, this time cemented down. Since then, people from all walks of life and from all over have been adding their boots to Boot Hill.

“We have more posts that are ready to be added,” Blair said. “We would like to bring them all the way down to our mailbox.”

The Blairs prefer the boots added to the fence to be Western, as that was the initial theme. They welcome people to add their boots to the display, knowing that for some people it is a way to memorialize those who have ridden on to heaven.

Though Boot Hill started as something personal for the Blair family, Suzanne is proud of what it has turned into.

“I never imagined it would turn into this.”

YOU ASKED!

Have a question about something in the lakes area? Send it to tbitzan@echopress.com or call (320) 763-1211.