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Nebraska County Countdown 10: Platte County

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Explore the Platte Valley, home of great football players like Blahak, Saalfeld, Schlesinger, and Brock

I know many of you have enjoyed the courthouse pictures we’ve used in this series. I want to take a moment to note that most of them came from Wikimedia Commons. One user, Ammodramus, has taken time to photograph county courthouses, and other historic sites, in Nebraska. Not only that, but he/she released all their photos to the public domain. That generosity deserves a shout out and since this is my last article of the county series, I wanted to be sure to do that.

Welcome to Platte County, home to 32,237 Nebraskans. The county was formed in 1855 and named after the mighty Platte River. The county seat is Columbus (so named after Columbus, Ohio) and is located where the Platte and Loup Rivers come together. The other city is Humphrey. Villages include: Cornlea, Creston, Duncan, Lindsay, Monroe, Platte Center, and Tarnov. Census-designated and unincorporated communities include: Lakeview, Oconee, Rosenburg, Tracy Valley, and Saint Bernard.

The town of Humphrey is where Ranchdude and I procured most of the flooring for our house. The Catholic church in town built a new school and auctioned off everything (and I mean everything) from the old building right down to the flooring. It was a lot of hard work, sweat, and splinters, but we salvaged about 2000 square feet of maple floor. We have 110 year old floors in our 15 year old house.

The flooring we bought (for a grand total of $20) came from the upper floors. The rooms there were the bedrooms for the nuns. Ranchdude likes to tell everyone we have virgin maple floors.

The small town of Tarnov recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of when they were “bombed” by the U.S. military in a training exercise gone awry. Mistaking Tarnov for their actual bombing range near Stanton, the Army dropped seven bombs on the townin 1943. With the townspeople unaware that they were actually filled with sand instead of explosives, the bombs caused a bit of panic. The town was evacuated and the military removed six of the devices. The seventh was found later and is now on display in the Tarnov museum.

The city of Columbus built its first runaway in 1929. Today, the city is home to one of the FAA’s automated Flight Service Stations that is used throughout the state. Columbus also called itself the “Crossroads of the Nation” due to its location at the intersection of federal highways 30 and 81 (originally known as the Meridian Highway). Another interesting nugget about Columbus from the Virtual Nebraska website:

During the economic bust -- dust, drought, blight days of the 1930s -- Columbus leaders revived the earlier dream of harnessing water power to generate electricity. By using government money (authorized for self-liquidating projects) it also helped alleviate local unemployment by providing jobs in the midst of the Great Depression. As a result, Columbus was the birthplace of public power in Nebraska. Water, diverted from the Loup River into a canal, continues to produce great quantities of hydro-electric power.

Anyone who drives in rural Nebraska quickly notices how heavily farms in this state rely upon center pivot irrigation for watering crops. The town of Lindsay is home to one of the major manufacturers, Lindsay Corporation, who makes Zimmatic pivots.

Football Players Hailing from Platte County

  • Joe Blahak (Columbus) was a DB on Bob Devaney’s championship teams from the early 70’s. He is best know for making the block that sprung Johnny Rodgers “tore ‘em loose from their shoes” punt return in the Game of the Century. He went on to play several seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup/special teamer.
  • Kelly Saalfeld (Columbus) was an offensive lineman who walked on at Nebraska in 1975. By 1979, he the All-Big Eight center. He went on to play in the NFL for one season and was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Brad Henke (Columbus) was a defensive lineman Arizona before spending time in the NFL and Arena Football League. He went on to an acting career and is famous as prison guard Desi Piscatella on “Orange is the New Black.”
  • Charley Brock (Columbus) was an offensive lineman and linebacker for the Huskers in the 1930’s. He played for the Packers in the NFL from 1939-1947 and was named to the NFL All-Decade team for the 1940’s.
  • Cory Schlesinger (Columbus) played fullback for Nebraska in the early 90’s. He scored two touchdowns in the 1995 Orange Bowl vs Miami to help Tom Osborne win his first national championship. He went on to a decade+ long career in the NFL and is now an industrial arts teacher near Detroit.

Husker “10” Trivia

  • Current Huskers to wear “10”: JD Spielman (Sophomore wide receiver) and Cam Taylor (freshman defensive back)

Notable Huskers to wear #10:

  • Roy Helu, Jr. holds the Nebraska single game rushing yardage total with 307 yards vs Missouri in 2010.
  • Mike Minter was an All-Big 12 defensive back (his bio lists him at Rover) at Nebraska from 92-96. He played in the NFL 10 seasons and is currently the head coach at Campbell University.
  • Bret Clark was a second-team All-American at safety and played at Nebraska from 1980-84.