Mirrormont’s greatest mystery 

Model western town in Mirrormont connects a community and holds treasured memories for owner Clark Johnson’s family and friends. 

Amelia Nored, Editorial Board Member

Walking by Mirrormont resident Clark Johnson’s* house, all a passerby looking into his yard might see is what seems like a scaled-down model of a mansion. While this is mysterious enough, they have no idea what really lies behind the fence surrounding his yard: an entire western town with fifteen model buildings. 

The western town is complete with a double-decker outhouse, a church, a bank, a hotel, a jail, a saloon, and a mansion modeled after his childhood foster home, among other buildings. Every building is unique, but they each feature reclaimed wood, ornamental signs, antique lighting, and eye-catching decorations, such as a dummy soldier standing in front of the bank that Johnson calls Gerald. Most of the structures are connected under one covered walkway which wraps around his backyard, and lights fixed to both the buildings and the covering illuminate the path around the area that Johnson refers to as “cowboy town.”

The project first started 25 years ago when Johnson wanted to build a playhouse for his two-year-old granddaughter. After the first building was created, people started donating wood to him, motivating him to construct more and more establishments until his town was completed. However, building this town wasn’t a simple task. 

“What I didn’t know, I just learned how to do. I went slow. I’m not good at woods at all, but you get better as you go. There’s a lot of work put into the buildings,” Johnson said. 

Indisputably, this property brings a unique element to Mirrormont and has touched the lives of more people than it was ever intended to. Even strangers who have passed by the house have recognized how special it is. 

“A lot of people in Mirrormont visit the town. The kids, mostly, are more courteous. They stop, knock on my door, and ask if they can see it. Adults usually just walk on my property— some will knock and some won’t,” Johnson said. 

Relatives and friends have also shared unforgettable experiences in cowboy town. 

“We’ve had a few weddings and a few receptions in the town. It’s been blessed by a minister and a priest,” Johnson’s wife Linda* said. 

Each of the buildings display an old-fashioned sign to commemorate the support and generosity Johnson received. The signs feature the names of his friends, neighbors, and coworkers, some of whom have since passed away. The town stands as a piece of history—not just of the Old West, but of Johnson’s own life. 

The project has given an entire community joy and memories, despite its initial purpose to simply be a fun place for Johnson’s granddaughter to play in. Although Johnson says he never fully accomplished his original goal to learn patience through the process, he took an even more significant lesson away from the years that he has spent building the town, which he described through an anecdote about acquiring pillars to put in front of the model mansion in his collection.

“A friend of mine found the columns. I asked him, ‘Do you ever find any pillars?’ He said ‘No, I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years. We never have any pillars.’ I said ‘Well, keep your eyes open. You will.’ Two weeks later he called me and asked, ‘How many pillars do you need?’ I said, ‘You found some, huh? I told you you would.’ He asked me how many I needed, and I said four. He said, ‘That’s how many I’ve got,’” Johnson said. “I told him, ‘That’s how it works, my friend. Be good to some people, and life will be good back to you.’”

*name changed to protect privacy