One of the first abandoned properties I came across in the area was the magnificent Beetison Manson, in Ashland, NE. This mansion was the perfect location to stumble across on a Saturday afternoon drive.
The second time I went to the property, it was on a whim on my way home from Lincoln after something for one of my children at sunset. In the middle of Winter, the trees skeletal, the photo opportunity was too perfect to pass up.
One reason I love finding abandoned buildings and houses is the mystery surrounding the properties and the land. Every once in a while, I can research and dig up the history on some of these places, and this particular location happened to have an interesting history.
The Beetison Mansion had been in the same generation for 120 years! She was built in 1875, and each of the limestone bricks was chiseled by hand!
The small tower, called a cupola, on the top was actually built as a look-out for Native Americans, and the lady of the house carried fresh homemade bread down the hill to feed them.
In 1971, the Israel Beetison Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historical Places, and since then, Iron Horse Golf Course bought the land around the abandoned house, and they said in the linked article that 60 people have shown interest in purchasing the house.
Upon developing the course, they have found pottery shards, flint, tools, and other evidence of Native American occupation dating back to 1100.
The owners of the golf course plan to hold an auction at some point. The Iron Horse also contains the visible wagon ruts of The Oxbow trail.
One thing I must make abundantly clear is when I visit any abandoned property, I always approach with the utmost respect and caution. I do not attempt to enter these houses. The foundation is unstable, and I do not know if there is a well or a concealed cellar which could pose as a hazard, especially if I am alone. There is also the trespassing factor. I do take this seriously. Many of these locations are privately owned and it is challenging to track down the correct contacts to ask permission to photograph the structures. I take each situation as they arise, asking permission when I can. If it is a dangerous location, I stay as far away as I can and shoot from a distance. Nothing is worth risking my life.
There are two other dangers to consider when exploring abandoned structures. If you believe in the supernatural, there is always the chance of an encounter and they have the potential to follow you home! In urban locations there can also be homeless people taking shelter, which is another reason to get permission from the owners when you are able.
The Beetison house has a peaceful feeling surrounding it. It’s one of the locations I will return to over and over. Perhaps one day someone very lucky can restore this beautiful historical house.
I also captured some beautiful images of the sunset. Not to mention, I enjoyed watching the day disappearing over the hill, giving himself over to the fair lady of night. If you share any of my images, please credit me. Thanks.
December of 2020, I checked back in on her, and she is in bad shape.
Trish Eklund’s first book, Abandoned Nebraska: Echoes of Our Past, was released in November of 2018. Her second photography book, Abandoned Farmhouses and Homesteads of Nebraska: Decaying in the Heartland will be released on February 22, 2021. She is finishing up her third book; Abandoned Farmhouses and Homesteads of Kansas: Home is Where the Heart is. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska, Raw Abandoned, ListVerse, Nature Takes Over, Grime Scene Investigators, and Pocket Abandoned. She has a photo on the cover of: Fine Lines Summer 2020: Volume 29 Issue 2. She is the owner and creator of the photography website, Abandoned, Forgotten, & Decayed. Trish has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz, and another essay in another anthology: Voices of the Plains Volume III by Nebraska Writer’s Guild and Julie Haase. Her writing has been featured on The Mighty, Huffington Post Plus, Making Midlife Matter, and Her View From Home. She owns, moderates, and writes for the blog: Trigger Warning: Surviving Abuse. She has written four young adult novels and is hard at work on her first adult novel.