Smalltown America isn’t just a place where you can find lots of history, but also culture. Marble Hill, in fact, is home to a developing local art scene. At the Cat Ranch Art Guild, local artists have established an encouraging community in a place full of art. The place is even home to a good bit of history.
In 1957, Marble Hill local Tom Runnels purchased a 60 acre piece of land in the northern part of the town, which he called the “Cat Ranch.” Within this acreage used to reside an apple orchard. Runnels didn’t plan to farm fruit, however — he sought to bring something new to the area. He raised many different kinds of animals on the large acreage, including horses and chickens, but his land wasn’t just devoted to fauna.
For years, Runnels and his wife, Sandy, lived in a trailer onsite while they committed their lives to art. Sandy worked as a school teacher, but she was also invested in creating art. Runnels was an Air Force veteran who studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. He was particularly fond of crafting steel sculptures and ink drawings. His works were successful on the market and were sold across the country and even internationally.
Runnels also dreamed of developing the Cat Ranch into his dream homescape. Over several years, he painstakingly built his own log cabin, which still stands today. It was Runnels’ dream to live side by side with nature and create art, and he achieved this goal.
After Runnels and his wife passed away, his niece, Jeanie Eddleman, transformed the property into a haven for art. She founded and is president of the Cat Ranch Art Guild, which meets at the Cat Ranch regularly. The organization holds events including art fairs, festivals, and guest speakers. Runnels’ artwork is also on display at the Cat Ranch, where visitors can stop by and view his unique creations that mimic the beauty of everyday smalltown life.