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Family builds replica of the Old West in backyard

By Matthew K. Jensen

The Herald Journal

Published: Sunday, Aug. 12 2012 10:09 p.m. MDT

Owen Thornley works on a fence which is part of a replica of an Old West main street at his home in Smithfield. Owen and Shelly Thornley designed and built a three-quarter scale replica of a Western-themed main street behind their home, reminiscent of a dusty town where cowboys and blacksmiths once reigned. The elaborate setup is more like a film set, however, as the facade is only a few inches thick. <0093>It's a fence,<0094> said Shelly Thornley. <0093>But we wanted to make something that didn't feel like just a fence.<0094>(AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Jennifer Meyers)in Smithfield, Utah. Owen and Shelly Thornley designed and built a three-quarter scale replica of a Western-themed main street behind their home, reminiscent of a dusty town where cowboys and blacksmiths once reigned. The elaborate setup is more like a film set, however, as the facade is only a few inches thick. <0093>It's a fence,<0094> said Shelly Thornley. <0093>But we wanted to make something that didn't feel like just a fence.<0094>(AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Jennifer Meyers) Owen Thornley works on a fence which is part of a replica of an Old West main street at his home in Smithfield. Owen and Shelly Thornley designed and built a three-quarter scale replica of a Western-themed main street behind their home, reminiscent of a dusty town where cowboys and blacksmiths once reigned. The elaborate setup is more like a film set, however, as the facade is only a few inches thick. <0093>It's a fence,<0094> said Shelly Thornley. <0093>But we wanted to make something that didn't feel like just a fence.<0094>(AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Jennifer Meyers)in Smithfield, Utah. Owen and Shelly Thornley designed and built a three-quarter scale replica of a Western-themed main street behind their home, reminiscent of a dusty town where cowboys and blacksmiths once reigned. The elaborate setup is more like a film set, however, as the facade is only a few inches thick. <0093>It's a fence,<0094> said Shelly Thornley. <0093>But we wanted to make something that didn't feel like just a fence.<0094>(AP Photo/The Herald Journal, Jennifer Meyers)

Associated Press

SMITHFIELD, Cache County (AP) — A Smithfield family has a window to the past in their own backyard where the Old West is alive and well.

Owen and Shelly Thornley designed and built a three-quarter scale replica of a Western-themed main street behind their home, reminiscent of a dusty town where cowboys and blacksmiths once reigned.

The elaborate setup is more like a film set, however, as the facade is only a few inches thick.

"It's a fence," said Shelly Thornley. "But we wanted to make something that didn't feel like just a fence."

When a business next door expanded its building, the Thornleys decided they needed additional privacy from the flow of traffic passing through the commercial lot adjacent to their home.

"A lot of trucks came through here, so it kind of took some of our privacy away," said Owen Thornley. "Everybody's got a fence, but not too many have a fence like this one."

Thornley said he likes collecting antiques, especially ones with ties to the historic West. Some of his original pieces are even used in the decorative fence.

"It's a good distraction from the traffic," he added.

The tiny town comes complete with a general store, Dry Gulch Saloon, Union Pacific rail depot, jail and outhouse. Shelly designed the scheme on paper, and her husband gathered the tools and materials to bring it to life, even wiring electric lights on the storefronts.

After wrapping up some finishing touches on the fence — including the addition of a "Dry Goods" sign on the general store — the couple have plans to extend the row of buildings another 70 feet along their property line to include a hotel, bank, sheriff's office and other institutions common to 1880s street scenes. For now, though, the Thornleys' view is of a parking lot.

The couple says building the micro townscape was an excellent way to be creative and come home to something a little different.

"We work in an office all day, so it's nice to come home and do something creative," said Shelly Thornley.

The family says the last addition to the project will be a low-level deck in the backyard with walkways to each of the buildings.

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