Friday, September 11, 2015

Exploring Nebraska City NE

We love the summer season… With longer daylight hours plus daylight savings time, we end up with a lot of time to explore even if we arrive a bit late in the day.  We rarely waste daylight when we can still see the sights!

This is the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railway combination passenger and freight depot at 725 South 6th Street in Nebraska City.

The introduction and expansion of the railroad to other areas of the state had a negative impact on Nebraska City's status as a major river port and overland freighting center.  Residents realized that in order to compete with other towns, their community needed passenger lines.  In 1887 Burlington opened a passenger line between Omaha and Nebraska City. 


·       The first permanent home built on the site where Nebraska City now stands also involved a critical transportation hub.  Ca. 1850, John Boulware developed an important river-crossing and ferry service across the Missouri River from Iowa to present-day Nebraska City.  In 1852 or 1853, he and his father built a ferry house, the town’s first residence.

By 1910 the folks in Nebraska City noted all the improvements being made to railroad facilities in other towns and they felt slighted by the railroad.  It was perceived that their depot was inadequate.  Not only would a larger modern depot allow for more rail traffic, it also gave passengers their first impression of the community.  Under pressure from the citizens of Nebraska City, Burlington built this new Renaissance Revival style depot for the community in 1912.

Unfortunately, this nice looking depot is currently empty.  I looked in the windows and I could see tables, chairs, etc., all evidence that someone had attempted to operate a restaurant in the building.  If you’re looking for a business opportunity, the big sign on the front of the depot states that the property is “Available”.  Just contact J.D. Burt, a broker from Lincoln Nebraska.  Phone: 402-432-7995.

This is the Otoe County Courthouse in Nebraska City.   The original two-story center portion of this courthouse in Nebraska City was completed in 1865.  Other additions, which for the most part mimicked the original design, were added ca. 1882 and in 1936.  The Otoe County Courthouse is the oldest public building in Nebraska that is still in use.

As one might assume from the name, Otoe County Nebraska is named after an American Indian word.  The Otoe Tribe occupied the southeast corner of Nebraska plus small segments of nearby Iowa and Missouri.  This impressive group in full regalia is an Otoe Delegation from 1881…when Congress ‘negotiated’ the sale of remaining tribal land in Nebraska and the tribe’s move to the Indian Territory…what is now Oklahoma.

The combined Otoe-Missouria peoples are now headquartered in Red Rock, Oklahoma, and their tribal jurisdictional area is in Noble County and Kay County Oklahoma.  There are now roughly 3,100 enrolled tribal members with the majority living within the state of Oklahoma.  The tribe opperates a housing authority and issues tribal vehicle tags.  They also own 2 gas stations, 2 smoke shops and 4 casinos.  To learn more, just go to and visit the tribal website at

You might ask what a windmill is doing between a parking lot and a city street.  Yes…this is part of an historic landmark.  After all, in the early days of the USA, the development of the “water-pumping windmill” was a major factor that allowed farmers and ranchers to access water in areas that lacked accessible water.  Although they are relatively rare across much of the country today, they were part of the landscape for many years.

The Kregel Windmill Factory Museum is located right across the street from that windmill.  Beginning in at least 1890, the Kregel Wind Mill Company, (then called the Nebraska City Manufacturing Company), began selling windmills in the Nebraska City area.  Although their main product, the Eli windmill, was not widely marketed, the building (ca. 1905) is of special significance.

The factory today remains completely intact with equipment and parts appearing as they probably did when the firm was in operation.  The operation is frozen in time…ca. 1939.  George Kregel began producing windmills in 1903 in an earlier building here in Nebraska City.  The Kregel Wind Mill Factory Museum, located at 1416 Central Avenue is a unique example of what was once an important part of the nation's manufacturing, farming and ranching history.  For more information, you can go to their website at

This collage provides a glimpse of the “Enchanted Arboretum" that is on display throughout Nebraska City. (We both clearly remember Chicago’s artistic painted cows!) This display actually includes a total of 72 artistic trees that were designed by both professional artists and students.  The student participants ranged from first grade through high school.  These 3-dimensional stylized sculptures are made of a cast fiber-reinforced urethane.  Entries were submitted by professional artists, most from Southeast Nebraska.  A total of 21 were selected for the 6-foot-tall sculptures.  Beginning in April, the 6-foot ‘trees’ were installed permanently around the community. 

From left to right and from top to bottom, here are the titles as named by the artists: "Seasons of Life"; "The oooh-aaah Tree"; "Growth Rings"; “Do You See the Forest or the Trees”; "Stainbike Tree”; “Silver Hue”, and; “Why Crow Feathers are Black”.  

You might be asking… Why did city fathers decide to ‘plant’ an Enchanted Arboretum of painted trees Throughout Nebraska City?  Did you know that Nebraska City is the home of our National Arbor Day?  More on this fact will follow in an upcoming blog posting…

That’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. The windmills and farmers is very interesting. I would have never guessed when I saw it.

  2. I love this picture of Otoe tribe:)

  3. I love trips packed with history! ....a windmill factory museum....that would be very interesting,,,but then, so would the enchanted arboretum displays!

  4. Dear Dave, Very interesting. I always learn something through your travels. Thank you. Blessings, Catherine