A hand-made replica of an actual farm is now on display at the Pipestone County Museum.
Cornie “Sparky” DeRuyter, who died in 2019, made the model farm to look like the farm owned by his parents, Dick and Lena DeRuyter, when he was a teenager. The actual farm was located near Ruthton.
Dick and Lena had nine children, according to the Pipestone County Museum. The family moved from Iowa to Minnesota in the 1940s and lived on the farm into the 1960s.
Cornie’s wife, Shirley DeRuyter, said the model of the farm is an exact replica. It is about 8.5 by 10 feet and includes a house, a barn, outbuildings, a silo, a windmill, farm machinery and more.
“He really put attention to detail,” said Pipestone County Museum Collections/Exhibits Manager Noah Burris.
DeRuyter said Cornie built the structures and equipment in the model out of odds and ends. That included cutting real wooden shingles down to make thousands of tiny shingles for the buildings and using old barn wood to make the barn.
DeRuyter said her husband broke his back in 1988 and started building the farm as a way to keep his mind off the pain. When he started, she said, he was just going to build the barn, but he finished that and just kept building. She said it was “a labor of love.”
Burris said Cornie started building the model farm in a shop in his basement in 2006 and completed most of it by 2009.
In addition to making the model farm, Cornie also made several pieces of furniture for the family, DeRuyter said. She said her husband worked at a machine shop and as a mechanic.
DeRuyter, who lives in Iowa, said her husband wanted the model farm to go to the Pipestone County Museum because the farm was located in Pipestone County. The model farm is located in the former dining area of the Masonic Lodge and Burris said it expected to be on display for quite a while. DeRuyter said it makes her feel good that it will be on display for others to see.
“It’s a beautiful work of art, I think,” she said.
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