Photo of the week: Octagonal barn along Iowa’s Raccoon River

Billy Merrit's Octagon barn

Billy Merritt's Octagon barn, photo/Steve Collins

This farm in west central Iowa once belonged to Billy Merritt. He provided the animals used in rodeos, from the broncos, to the Brahma bulls used for bull riding. During the off season, he’d pasture the animals on the rolling land along the Central Raccoon River. The land wasn’t much good for farming but it was perfect grazing land. The octagonal barn still stands on the farm.

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12 Responses to “Photo of the week: Octagonal barn along Iowa’s Raccoon River”

  1. Traveling Ted
    September 25, 2019 at 8:14 am #

    I have never seen an octagonal barn before. Except for the fact there is no water in it, this would be the only barn an octopus would feel comfortable in.

    • Steve Collins
      September 25, 2019 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi, Ted - A really big octopus. In an octopus’s garden…

  2. Charles Higgins
    September 26, 2019 at 8:45 pm #

    Interesting, unique old barn…

    Cheers…

    • Steve Collins
      September 27, 2019 at 10:52 am #

      Hi Charles - I love interesting old barns. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Lincoln
    November 5, 2019 at 8:42 pm #

    I remember Billy and Betty living in the green house about 1/4 mile east of this barn. Did he live in the house that used to sit up by the road by this barn? Lee Rodeen owned the barn back as far as I can rememeber. Jim Kramer ownes it now.

    • Larry Littsen
      February 5, 2019 at 5:51 pm #

      I went to a lot of Billy’s rodeos as a kid when I lived in Iowa. Could you tell me what ever happenned to Billy, and his Rodeo Company? Thank you, Larry Littsen

      • Steve Collins
        February 7, 2019 at 8:54 pm #

        Hi, Larry
        Billy was a customer of my dad’s farm supply store in Lake City. Here’s the lowdown from my brother Mick on what happened with Billy: “As far as i know Billy Merritt worked his cattle ranch for rodeo stock well into his 60’s once he sold the stock to his foreman , he retired and died a few years later.” Lots of great Iowa stories and my brother has a bunch more Thanks for reading the post.

        • Larry Littsen
          February 8, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

          Thank you for the information Steve. I grew up in Stratford Iowa and got my first taste of rodeo at the Dayton Iowa Rodeo when I was 11. (Billy was the stock contractor)I moved to Steamboat Springs Colo. when I was 23 and started riding saddle broncs. I never forgot Billy Merritt though. I turned 60 this year and havent climbed over a chute gate in several years. Even though I was still a kid the last time I was at one of Billys shows I can still remember the names of some of his broncs and bulls. “War Paint, and “My Pride” were 2 of his good broncs. And “Whirly bird”, “Joe Louis”, and “Tumblebug” were the bulls that I remember. Do you happen to know if the man he sold the rodeo company is still in business? I collect old rodeo posters, etc and would really like to have anything related to the Merritt Rodeo Company for my collection. I would also like to hear any stories that you, or your brother would like to share about Billy. From my research I have found that Billy, and his wife are buried in the Lanesboro cemetary and if I get back to Iowa this summer I plan to go to the cemetary and pay my respects to the man that gave me my start in rodeo. I don’t even know if he knew my name but I will never forget his. I now have a small saddle shop in Simi Valley, California. Thank you very much for your reply Larry Littsen

          • Steve Collins
            February 8, 2019 at 1:45 pm #

            I don’t know the details of who Billy sold the business to. I’ll pass your email address onto my brother Mick Ahrens. As I said he was a customer of my dad’s business in Lake City. I know my dad had no respect for anyone who would mistreat livestock but spoke highly of Billy. That in itself speaks volumes. It’s really great to hear stories that connect to where I grew up and raise old memories. Interestingly, the same day that my brother and I took the drive where I took the picture of Billy’s barn I think we we stopped at the Lanesboro cemetery. If I ever get out to California, I’d love to stop in and see your shop. There’s definitely something special about growing up in Iowa and it never leaves you.

          • Jim Miller
            June 20, 2019 at 9:09 am #

            Hello Larry,

            If you send me your email I have one of the last rodeo contracts Billy Merritt signed in 1979 for the rodeo in Lenox Iowa who my dad was president of at the time. I will gladly send you a copy.

            Regards,

            Jim Miller

  4. Kylie Anderson
    April 20, 2019 at 7:40 am #

    Thank you for posting this image! I’ve loved reading people’s memories about Billy! Billy was my Grandmother’s brother, so I’ve heard a few stories from her, but it’s interesting hearing what other people remember about him. If anyone has any other memories of Billy or his rodeos, I’d love to hear it!

    • Steve Collins
      April 27, 2019 at 11:10 am #

      Billy Merritt was a special person. My dad had a farm supply store in Lake City. Billy was one of his customers. Dad had tremendous respect for how well he took care of his livestock. Based on what I’ve been able to gather, he was widely respected by all who knew him. Thanks for sharing your recollections.

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