Ghost Towns of Sarpy
you ever felt like you scored a coup while out ghost towning?
years ago, in the summer of 1993, I did, and think I startled a historical
museum curator.† We were spending four
days with my wife's brother in Bellevue, south
of Omaha, Nebraska.† While she visited, I ghosttowned.
Bellevue is an old historic town,
and I assumed that the library would have a decent historical collection.† With four days here, I wanted to find the
ghost town sites I marked on my roadmap.†
Stopping briefly at the county assessor's office to obtain a county map,
I hit the library.† It has a small
collection of material, and I added a half-dozen names
of sites to visit.† When my
brother-in-law came home from work about 2 p.m., he ate lunch, then the two of us trekked across cornfields in search of
Ghost Town USA.†††
drove around and around, and eventually found one
site.† After exploring a few minutes (all
private property), we headed back to his house.†
Later they took us around town and onto Offutt AFB.† We saw what remained of Fort Crook.† Later we stopped by the county historical
museum, which was closed.
next morning guess where I went?
morning, I'm Gary Speck, and I'm visiting family here in Bellevue.†
I'm interested in ghost towns and abandoned townsites.† I write for a national magazine, and..."
I produced several photocopies of recent articles..."I was wondering if
you could tell me a little about these locations."† I produced my county map now marked up with
thought his eyeballs were going to pop out of his head!
the time I left the museum three hours later, I had the locations of 34 sites
in the county.† I showed them to my
brother-in-law, and boy was he surprised.†
He'd lived in Bellevue
about ten years and hadn't heard of hardly any of them.†
next morning I visited twenty-four of the sites.† I couldn't locate the other ten, mainly due
to time constraints.† Listed below are
just a few of the 34 ghosts that I discovered in Sarpy County, Nebraska...†
††††††††††† This was the site of a ferry that
transported folks to Cedar Island, an island in the Platte
River, several miles upstream (west)
of its confluence with the Missouri River.† It was located in what is now tangled trees
and undergrowth west of the resort, three miles west of the US 73/75 bridge over the Platte River
at La Platte.
††††††††††† This is an old 1880s railroad town
that developed northwest of Papillion.†
The site is just to the west of State Highway 60, and just south of the
county line.† All that remained in 1993
were a grain elevator and warehouse, both of which are still in use.
DYSON HOLLOW LIME KILN...
the 1850s, the lime-kiln at this site employed about 400 men.† Huge quantities of lime was mined and milled
here.† During the 1930s extensive ruins
remained, and even today if you look carefully through the underbrush along Dyson Hollow Rd, south
of Platteview road, you can still see some ruins.
††††††††††† The barren site of Forest City
sits a mile and a half west of Gretna,
in the far west end of the county.† The
town was originally founded by Irish immigrants, and a town rapidly built up
after their arrival.† On April 18, 1858, Forest City
incorporated.† For twenty years. the little community was large on spirit, even contributing
its brass band to county functions and parades.
††††††††††† It was along the road from Omaha to Ashland,
and along the stage line.† It had a post
office, catholic church, two stores, two boarding
houses, a granary, and a school that was held wherever room could be found to
††††††††††† By 1875 the town was eclipsed by
and the population migrated to the new location, which was located on the
Burlington Northern Railroad.
FORT CROOK CITY/FORT CROOK...
††††††††††† Located south of the riverboat town
of Bellevue, Fort Crook
was built between 1894 & 1896, with the first infantry troops moving in on
June 28, 1896.† It wasn't until 1918 with
the arrival of the 61st Balloon Company, that it became an airfield.
††††††††††† Majestic brick structures marked the
fort's buildings, and it became a very important post.† In 1921 dirt landing strips were graded, and
by 1924, the landing field had become known as Offutt Field.† Both the airstrip and army post grew in
importance, until June 11, 1946, when Fort Crook
officially transferred to the 2nd Air Force.†
On Jan. 13, 1948, it became Offutt Air Force Base.
††††††††††† Today, the Fort Crook
buildings remain scattered across the base mixed with more modern structures.
(Access is limited only to members of the military and their official guests.)
was located just outside the west gate of Fort Crook,
and served as a "support" town for the soldiers stationed there.† The main street was a long line of one and
two story wooden structures that housed diversions such as saloons, saloons,
††††††††††† Today the site has been absorbed by Bellevue, and most lies
under the pavement of US 73/75.
††††††††††† This is a "wannabee"
town that barely established itself.† Its
site is where the Union Pacific Railroad crosses 36th Street. A grain elevator, stock
pens, and a railroad depot that contained the post office marked the
community.† Today it is a barren site.
La PLATTE...two sites...
††††††††††† The first
site of La Platte was along the Missouri River, just north of the Platte.† It was established
by four men around 1855.† A year later,
the site was abandoned mainly due to flooding.†
Nothing marks site #1.
††††††††††† The town moved inland a couple
miles, and was reestablished under the name of Larimer Mills (see).
††††††††††† In the 1880s when the Missouri Pacific
Railroad pushed through the area, the town of Larimer had faded.† A railroad station called La Platte was
established on the north side of the tracks, across from what was Larimer.† Today site #2 is a small, sleepy community
with a population of several hundred.†
There are a number of OLD buildings in town.
††††††††††† After the town of La Platte relocated to the inland site, it
grew slowly.† It was at first called Larimer City, but that was changed to Larimer
Mills.† In 1859 advertisements were run
in various newspapers for the two-story whitewashed wooden Larimer Hotel, which
still stands.† It is a private residence,
and sits just south of the railroad tracks on the south side of La Platte
#2.† The rest of Larimer is overgrown
with trees, or lies under La Platte #2.
††††††††††† Nothing much remains of this once
busy railroad junction community but scattered farm houses, cornfields and
rubble.† A mile and a half west of town
is the Meadow Cemetery.
††††††††††† This small railroad town was
predated by a one-room school and cemetery; both of which remain.† The site of the town is long gone.† It was located along the Union Pacific
Railroad, northwest of Papillion, on Giles
Road, between 108th and 114th Streets.
††††††††††† This is the number one ghost town SITE
in the county, and today is just about gone.†
The old school and a store still remain, but both have been converted to
††††††††††† The town was founded in 1874 by a
Captain Spearman, with the anticipation of the arrival of railroads, and county
seat honors.† With its location in the
center of the county, both seemed assured.
††††††††††† The Chicago,
Rock Island and
Pacific Railroad did come through, and an election was held for county
seat.† Three towns became finalists...Bellevue, Papillion, and Sarpy Center.† Bellevue was
eliminated in a second election, and the folks of Sarpy Center
††††††††††† Sarpy Center
as a town was busy and consisted of a blacksmith, hotel, store, school, and
newspaper...Sarpy County Sentinel. †In April 1875, a third election was held, and
Papillion took the county seat honors.†
This proved too much for Sarpy
Center.† Most folks moved southwest to Springfield, and Sarpy Center
became a ghost town.†
††††††††††† Its site is at the corner of Fairview Road and 120th Street.
††††††††††† Located seven miles east of Springfield, the town
site is at the corner of Buffalo
Road and 192nd
the northeast corner the abandoned schoolhouse sits with empty window sockets
staring into the green corn fields.† On the
southwest corner the old store has been converted to a home, and is
occupied.† A half-mile to the west is the
Sarpy County may be the smallest of Nebraska's 93 counties, and the third in
population, but to this California-based ghost towner
it's #1.† Of the 34 sites I identified
through research, I could not locate ten.†
Ten were barren of any evidence of a town. Four had rubble, ruins, or
foundation outlines.† Ten had standing
buildings, either occupied or vacant.†
Sarpy County, Nebraska is indeed prime ghost town country!
This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for
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UPDATED: March 20, 2005
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