Elaine happened on to an article on Neligh in the July/August issue of Nebraska Life Magazine this evening. What caught her eye was reference to the Blackburn Manufacturing business in that City. She remembered our being in Neligh some years ago and buying a bundle of the “ Blackburn, plastic flagged, wire stakes” . Bud Blackburn has operated the business since it moved to Neligh in 1957 according to the article. It also refers to Bud's Uncle, a surveyor who began the business.
I first heard of Blackburn stakes in about 1952 when I and another Soil Conservation Service Technician were in our Office in the Seward County Courthouse; an older gentlemen from South Dakota, came in carrying a couple bundles of stakes which he asked us to try. The other Technician was from South Dakota so they had a lot to talk about. As I remember, Mr. Blackburn told of having a Patent on the process which he had perfected prior to WWII. However, materials were not available during the War and for some time after. By the early '50's he was able to get material, had developed a machine for production, and was operating out of his garage. It seemed that a key item in the Patent was the material used to fasten the 3 by 4 inch plastic flag to the 24” wire. We used his samples, were favorably impressed, and ordered more. Surveying was never the same after we were able to use the Blackburn stakes instead of the old wooden lath we used previously. I have told the story many times as I've seen them in use all over the world. Right now, there are hundreds of them in Seward marking the lines for Black Hills Energy's new lines.