- Subscribe -Follow our YouTube ChannelFollow our YouTube Channel
- Advertisment -Alarm Security TechniciansAlarm Security TechniciansAlarm Security Technicians

The Vault Coffee & Community; The Flavors Of Western Nebraska 


By: Photojournalist Hawk Buckman

Bayard, Nebraska, rests on the eastern side of the North Platte and is about 12 miles from Bridgeport, which marks its east entrance. Bayard is most recognized for its proximity to Chimney Rock National Historic Site and is about three miles from downtown. Though Bayard is a small town, it has signs of revitalization as a tourist destination.

Chimney Rock rises from the intermediate plains when traveling west on Highway 92 from Highway 385. A traveler’s destination, Chimney Rock has a distinct history as written in the diaries and journals of mid to late-19th-century immigrants moving west along the Oregon-California and Mormon Trails.

The foundation of Bayard, Nebraska, in the 1800s, began in a different location. Named after Bayard, Iowa, the village was moved in 1900 to take advantage of the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad, which ran east to west, south of downtown. The first Post Office was established in 1888 and is only a few blocks from one of western Nebraska’s last standing sod homes (Soddy).

Chimney Rock National Historic Site. © Hawk Buckman
Chimney Rock National Historic Site. © Hawk Buckman

With the village’s relocation came an opportunity for growth and expansion, as the Western Sugar Corporation established an agricultural Plant west of the downtown area. Bayard flourished for a time, but as the millennium approached, residents began moving to other cities in the area or out of state to cities like Fort Morgan, Fort Collins, Colorado, and north into the Dakotas, leaving a shell of the town in their wake.

Since then, the population and economy of Bayard have destabilized further, but there are business owners in the area who are working to change Bayard into a tourist destination due to the proximity of Chimney Rock National Historic Site, which receives 40,000 people annually.

Often promoted by Scotts Bluff County tourism, Chimney Rock and Morrill County are just as relevant, if not more, to the history of western expansion than the surrounding counties. Though visitors to the area find lodging and restaurants in Scottsbluff and Gering, Nebraska, Bayard residents are working to secure its future as new businesses open, providing services otherwise found in cities and counties like Scotts Bluff.

One of the businesses that have begun directly impacting the economy and community in Bayard is The Vault Coffee & Community. Tonia and Calvin Verbeck purchased the crumbling remains of the Bayard Bank, built between the late 1800s and the 1900s. After closing, when the sugar beet factory closed operations, the building was used by an insurance and realty company for years. The Verbeck’s were looking for a location to place their business, and according to Tonia, the building was excellent but needed work.

After restoring the building to its former glory, Tonia and Calvin opened their dream business. As Tonia told us, “It’s my happy place. I love coming to work in the morning and meeting with members of our community who’ve become our loyal patrons, but more importantly, they’ve become our friends, and we cherish all of them.”

Tonia and her husband Calvin host the Heirloom Market each year in Bayard’s downtown area, drawing members of multiple surrounding communities to the event and boosting the economy of Bayard. In addition, The Vault Coffee & Community has become a mainstay in the Bayard area, serving delicious hand-roasted coffees and breakfast treats that deserve a daily trip to Bayard.

It’s Tonia and Calvin’s hope that the presence of The Vault Coffee & Community will inspire other businesses to locate or become established in the Bayard area, which hosts a lovely Golf Course, immediate access to Chimney Rock National Historic Site, the history of the Oregon-California and Mormon Trails, a small museum built in 1920 which holds, and maintains, the historical record of the area.

Other businesses are making their stand in Bayard, Nebraska as well. Bobbi Jo’s Branding Iron, just a few blocks north of The Vault Coffee & Community, offers a unique and fun atmosphere, good food, inexpensive drinks, and adult beverages, providing much-needed visitor resources when visiting one of western Nebraska’s most noted and recognizable landmarks.


The Vault Coffee & Community: Facebook
Tonia & Calvin Verbeck

- subscribe -
- Sponsor -Prairie Ridge Bed and Breakfast