Welcome to Lincoln County, Nebraska!
Lincoln County is just north of my home county, Frontier. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing this county series it’s that I grew up in the county with by far the worst courthouse in the state.
Lincoln County was established in 1866, and I shouldn’t have to tell you who it was named after.
North Platte is the county seat.
Other towns include Sutherland, Wellfleet, Wallace, Maxwell, Brady, and Hershey. Every one of these towns figured in my life some way or another.
Wellfleet is a tiny little town south of North Platte. There’s a small lake there where we used to go fishing and swimming. Sutherland and Hershey we played in football throughout my years of high school. Wallace, Maxwell and Brady - I’m pretty sure we played them in basketball every year.
North Platte was considered the “big city” when I grew up. If we wanted to do something special, we went to North Platte. It was where Mrs. CN and I had our first date. I took her to a movie, because at the time, where was no operational movie theatre in my hometown of Curtis. Being an incredible romantic, I took her to “Apocalypse Now”, which I’m sure you can all agree is the best date movie ever made. I can still hear her mother asking me what the movie was about. “It’s portrayed as a movie about the Vietnam War, but it’s really about what happens when we lose our humanity and blah blah blah, duality of man, blah.” And then she let me take her daughter to a movie. Later I married her. Her parents must be loonies.
North Platte is known for trains. There’s the Golden Spike Tower, where you can look over the world’s largest train yard.
Today Bailey Yard, named for former Union Pacific president Edd H. Bailey, is the world’s largest train yard. Covering a massive 2,850 acres, each day Bailey Yard manages 10,000 railroad cars. Of those, 3,000 are sorted to make sure the cargo reaches its final destination. You can see it all from the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center in North Platte.
There’s the history of the “North Platte Canteen” about how the city served thousands of troops as they were passing through on trains off to fight in World War II. I’m not a train guy. I know some train guys. I always thought they were a little weird, but we all have our things, don’t we?
There is Fort Cody, this little souvenir place right off I-80, where you can stop and get some photo-ops. There’s Nebraskaland days in June, I believe, which is like a town festival. There are gun fights in the street, or at least there used to be. I haven’t been back there in quite some time now.
There is the 20th Century Veterans’ Memorial just south of the I-80 exchange.
Fort McPherson National Cemetery - It’s a beautiful national cemetery near Maxwell. Both of my parents are buried there.
Fox Theatre - I’m pretty sure I saw “The Deer Hunter” here.
Johnston Memorial Building - This is a memorial building to my parents. NO IT’S NOT. I have no idea what it is. I’ve never heard of it before.
Hotel Yancy - A very large old hotel that looks like a place you’d spend your final days in drinking way too much Boone’s Farm.
Lincoln County Courthouse - I don’t recall being fine or sentenced here ever.
North Platte US Post Office and Federal Building - self explanatory.
O’Fallons Bluff - I had never heard of this place, honestly.
O’Fallons Bluff is a section of bluffs about 20 miles (32 km) long that run along the south side of the Platte river near Sutherland in Lincoln County, Nebraska. The Oregon and California trails ran up and over these bluffs. They were characterized by American pioneers heading west to Oregon and California as sparse in vegetation with a number of violent incidents involving Native Americans. In the early 1860s, a Pony Express station was located about 5 miles (8 km) west of where the wagon trails went up the bluff.
Sutherland State Aid Bridge - A BRIDGE! WOOOOO!!!!
Then there’s - Scout’s Rest Ranch - otherwise known as Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park. Kind of a cool place - I remember seeing a “Wild West Show” rodeo there when I was a small child. The riding and the shooting were amazing.
It is supposed that the first white men who visited what is now Lincoln County were the brothers Pierre and Auguste Choteau, who were sent out from St. Louis to explore the Northwestern country with a view to the establishment of trading posts, for the purpose of securing furs from the Indians. But little is known concerning the explorations of the Choteau brothers, except that they passed up the Platte beyond the forks of the North and South Platte in the year 1762.
In 1858, the first permanent settlement in the county was made at Cottonwood Springs, and the first building was erected in the fall of that year by Boyer & Robideau to be used as a trading ranch. The place was named Cottonwood Springs, rounded by a heavy growth of cottonwood trees, comprising a tract of about one hundred acres.
Then the Gold Rush started...
To give some idea of the extent of the freight and emigrant business along this route, it may be said that it was not uncommon event to be able to stand at the door of one of these ranches and count from seven hundred to one thousand of the wagons pass in a single day; indeed, Mrs. McDonald tells the writer that she one day counted more than nineteen hundred wagons passing the settlement at Cottonwood.
And civilization came upon the land...
At this early day, the herds of buffaloes roaming over these prairies were immense. It was estimated that they were sufficient in number, adding their probable increase, to furnish meat for the people of the entire United States for many generations to come, were they not promiscuously slaughtered, but only killed for food. Though the Indians consumed an immense number annually, one buffalo to each lodge being required daily, yet they were not improvident enough to engage in wholesale slaughter. The calves were generally born from May to July, after which time for a few months the Indians never killed the cows. Could this have been kept up, buffaloes would still have been abundant; but their wholesale slaughter by hunters for sport and for their furs have rendered them nearly extinct, and the bones of hundreds of thousands lie bleaching on the prairies, monuments to the reckless improvidence of the white man.
The bones of hundreds of thousands.... and no one thought to take a selfie.
Who is the most famous #15 in Husker history? WHO IS IT? Do I have to tell you?
And then there was Vince Ferragamo.
Shane Swanson was from Hershey. Chris Carr from Wellfleet (went to school with him).
Danny Woodhead is from North Platte. I believe he was the first person I ever interviewed on CN. Very nice, gracious guy.
Braxton Clark, freshman defensive back from Orlando, FL
Andre Hunt, freshman wide receiver from Palm Dale, CA