ERICK, OKLAHOMA — The cabin sits in Sam Hagan’s old back yard, looking a lot more like the oldest structure in town instead of the newest.
“It’s been quite a journey,” he says. “I get something in my mind and I got to do it.”
It’s only been a couple of winters since he was down on his luck and cutting fire wood to make ends meet.
“I was out of work and chose not to draw unemployment,” he says.
Sam will do odd jobs to survive, but he’s an artist too, a well-known photographer around western Oklahoma.
For many years he’s roamed the breaks and valleys telling stories about the land and the people, the old homesteads, and the elements that change everything.
Some of the logs for the cabin he built came from the very same places where he took his pictures.
That’s why he couldn’t bring himself to stack the logs for fire wood.
“The wood really talked to me,” he says. “It’s full of rings of memories.”
“I wanted to build a gallery taken from the land the pictures were taken from. Of course that’s been 12 to 14 years of taking pictures in this country.”
He cut the wood with an old chain saw.
He mixed red dirt and grass in a wheelbarrow to plug the holes.
The sheet metal roof he salvaged from an old barn.
The roofing nails were donated.
Sam recalls, “I come home from a funeral and there was a pail full of nails somebody left me.”
Hagan spent a total of $7 to buy some calking to keep the rain out, and that was it.
“Not $700,” asks a visitor?
“No,” he smiles. “$7. I don’t know if you could buy a place like it now for $7. Of course there probably aren’t too many places like it around.”
He lived in it for a winter.
A skunk has taken up residence in one corner now, but Sam says he doesn’t bother anyone.
“He needs a place to stay.”
Hagan is happy with the full circle he’s drawn himself, taking pictures, and using the same material that’s in those pictures to keep them safe.