Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sandhills Driveabout 12-06-14

The weather is going to close in on us sooner or later, so we knew we had to take advantage of the mild days for a few last driveabouts of 2014. We went North of Sutherland, through Tin Camp, then on up to Highway 97, across to the west to the road that goes past Diamond Bar lake, then down the Sarben road and home.
Just north of the Birdwood, we scared up a fine looking buck that has survived the 2014 hunting seasons so far. Only Black Powder and maybe Archery to go and he'll be home free!
You can see he thought it was a race for survival.
Just south of the Glen Echo cemetery on the Sarben road stands this abandoned homesteader's shack.
We get all the way back to town and see three deer in the field just east and a little north of our house. So much for driving far afield to spot wildlife.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lincoln County Driveabout 12-13-14

 A creative farmer making motorists smile on the Paxton-Elsie road.
 More of the artwork.
 The graves of Fred and Otto Creek in the Lincoln County Frontier Cemetery. Aged 15 and 16, they died within five years of each other.
 Can you see me? Mulies in the grass.
 The grave of Annie Nordquist, died in 1899, aged 25 years.
 And next to Annie, the grave of Albin, son of Simon and Annie Nordquist, died in 1895, aged 8 weeks.
 Cliff swallow nests on a bridge over the NPPD canal west of the Sutherland Reservoir. In the background, Gerald Gentleman Power Station and a Union Pacific coal train.
The coal train on its siding.
A beautiful Platte River valley barn, between Paxton and Sutherland, Nebraska.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why restore the Sutherland Depot?

History

The railroad built the depot in Sutherland in 1894. The depot was originally located southwest of where Maline’s Super Foods is presently located. When the new highway bridges were built south of Sutherland in 1914, it was moved to the north side of the tracks where the Sutherland Railroad Park is located, just east of Spruce Street.

The building was a 22’ x 50’ frame structure with a stone foundation. The depot had a waiting room, agent-telegraph room, and a freight room. The depot was painted white with the town name and elevation of 2959 painted on the ends. The water tower was just west of the building and the coaling station was across the tracks and slightly west of the depot.

The depot was the center of activity for anything requiring travel or transport in the early days. In 1898 and for several years, if you wanted your laundry done you could take it to the depot on the 13th and 27th of the month and it would be sent to the North Platte Steam Laundry and be returned to you. Cream and other dairy products were shipped by rail from the depot freight office. Creameries in Sutherland were the Beatrice Creamery which was located on what is now Walnut Street. Freight, mail, and passenger services were provided into the 1960’s.

With the end of passenger service in the late 60’s the depot was used for freight service only.The depot served the community until 1971 when the Agency in Sutherland was closed. The depot was closed on March 11, 1971, and was purchased for use as a Community Center and was moved to a lot on Second Street between Maple and Walnut. The Community Center never developed and in July of 1978, the depot was purchased at public auction by Rick and Sharon Parr for $650.The building was moved to Parr’s I-80 Sports Spot at the Interstate 80 and Highway 25 exit and restoration begun. A small restaurant in the former baggage room was to be the main attraction. Antique wooden café booths with high backs were installed. A foyer for the restaurant in the old ticket office contained remembrances of the past. Eventually the restaurant was discontinued and an antiques operation carried on in the Depot.

In the mid 1990’s, Parr’s sold the service station, and the Depot was again sold at auction and moved to a foundation on a rural road just south and west of Sutherland. Originally the idea was to create a rural restaurant in the building, but the project never developed.

Present Day
The Sutherland Depot has been donated to the Village of Sutherland by the current owner, for use as a tourist attraction and community center. It has been inspected by construction specialists and ruled sound.

When the Village of Sutherland purchased the former Saxton’s Fruit Stand property near the west edge of town for use as additional parking for the swimming pool and ball fields, included in the property was more than 600 feet of land between the historic Lincoln Highway and the railroad tracks.

Possibilities
Famous trainspotting venues such as the Folkston Funnel, the Tehachapi Depot and the Rochelle Railroad Park see far fewer trains than pass through Sutherland. The Folkston Funnel boasts 60 trains per day, the Rochelle Railroad Park touts 80 to 90 trains each day. While these attractions have fewer trains, what they have done well is offer services to entice the rail fans to their sites – great viewing platforms, historical displays, live radio transmissions of railroad traffic among others.

With the imminent opening of the Birdwood overpass, the Highway 30 corridor from Sutherland to North Platte, with its myriad train spotting opportunities, will be the natural route for rail fans to take to visit the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.In Sutherland, they will be able to take advantage of the Highway 25 overpass, get great quartering shots from the pedestrian overpass, and sit on the patio at the restored Depot and watch the trains pass. From there, they can travel east to the triangle that brings trains in from the “branch”, then on to North Platte and Bailey Yard, the Golden Spike Tower and other railroad attractions such as the Lincoln County Historical Museum and the Cody Park Railroad Display and further east to Brady’s buttermilk curves.

We anticipate developing the Sutherland Depot along the lines of the Tehachapi, California restored Southern Pacific Depot.





Benefits
Highway 30 and Interstate 80 are America’s “Main Streets”. These two transportation corridors transport million of people across the country every day. In order to thrive, small towns have to offer a reason for people to slow down, stop, and spend some time (and money) in our communities.

By restoring the historic Depot, we will have a tourist attraction that will appeal to rail fans and cultural and heritage tourists. A restored depot will show the world that we care about our heritage, that we are proud of our hometown, and that we are a welcoming place to stop.

According to the Nebraska Tourism Commission, each time a traveling party stops at an attraction, they will spend an additional half day in the area and  spend an additional $104. With an attraction of this caliber in Sutherland, they may spend those dollars at Maline’s Super Foods, Sutherland Sportsman’s Cove, Hi-Line Co-Op, Sno-White, The Longhorn Bar or Ozzie’s.

Having visitors stop for this attraction will allow us to tell them about the Sutherland Reservoir, the Sutherland Oregon Trail Golf Course, the Flatrock Riders ATV/UTV course, the historic Oregon Trail/Pony Express/Mormon Trail sites and the historic Sutherland State-Aid Bridge.

Giving our community pride a focal point such as the restored Depot will spur economic development and generate interest in the vacant storefronts along Main Street, and will give our children a reason to be proud of their community when they are making the decision whether or not to return home.

Rail Fans
Railfanning is attracting a new type of enthusiast to the fold – young people who are using emerging technologies to post photos and videos online to share among other rail fans. The Sutherland Depot will be developed with these new rail fans in mind, while offering quality viewing to all demographics of rail fans.

Railfans are predominantly male (98%), mostly under 50 years of age (53%) and had an average income of between US$41,000 and $80,000.Railfans tend to commit to this hobby for most of their adult lives (averaging 35 years). They spend a great deal of time on the activity, on average taking pictures or watching trains approximately 22 times per month.

When railfanning, 47% of respondents indicated that their preference was to railfan alone. Among the other 53% who undertook the activity with someone else, 32% of the total favored the company of other railfans and 21% preferred to go with their family. Accompanying family members tended to visit local attractions or go retail shopping while the respondent was railfanning.

The railfans incorporate railfanning as part of their vacation regardless of the primary purpose. However they select specific railfan destinations based on three criteria: the number of trains that can be viewed within a 24-hour period; a unique view from which to photograph and watch trains; and the variety of railroads at one location. The vast majority (over 93%) of respondents were willing to travel at least three hours to get to a railfan destination, with 54% of these willing to travel six or more hours. While at railfan destinations, they almost exclusively engaged in railfanning, but they also visited local attractions and occasionally went shopping. Based on responses, the following characteristics of railfan vacations were determined:
  • The average distance traveled was 1200 miles.
  • There was an average of five people involved per trip.
  • The average number of days spent on vacation was 6.84
  • The average amount spent was $1447.
This research illustrates the potential of this niche market for communities that possess the favorable attributes for railfans, and developing a railfan park offers one option.

Further, a Chicago Tribune newspaper article shows that, far from dying out, transpotters are growing younger and more technologically savvy.“With the help of Internet tools including Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, crowds of teens and 20-somethings meet online and gather with lawn chairs at dusk at otherwise sleepy stations across Chicago’s suburbs.

There they collect video footage and still images that draw thousands of online views. Some of the images have been picked up by railroad lines and popular rail magazines, which pay hundreds of dollars for unique shots. Other rail watchers are making hundreds of dollars a month posting videos of trains on YouTube.”

Cultural and Heritage Tourism
Heritage tourism is a cost-effective approach for Nebraska because it represents an asset-based economic development strategy that builds on Nebraska’s existing assets and resources. An investment in heritage tourism helps build a sense of pride of place, making Nebraska a better place to live, a better place to locate a business, and a better place to visit.

“Nebraska became an American path of travel. The Missouri River was a corridor of exploration and commerce, and the broad Platte River valley proved to be a natural highway for fur traders and later for emigrants on the California, Oregon, and Mormon trails. New generations of transportation followed the Platte: the short-lived Pony Express (1860-61), the transcontinental railroad, which linked the nation in 1869, the Lincoln Highway (1913), and today’s Interstate 80.”

A report based on a 2011 study of heritage tourism in Nebraska by the UNL Bureau of Business Research and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, found that Heritage Tourism:
  • Generates more than $196 million annually
  • Supports over 3,010 jobs in the state
  • Results in $16.4 million in state and local tax revenue annually.

Budget
It is estimated that the first phase of this project will cost nearly $70,000. This includes preparing a foundation, moving it from its location (via Paxton) to Sutherland, installing a new roof and repairing windows and repairing, replacing and painting the siding.

We have received a grant in the amount of $30,000. Much of the labor involved in this project can be accomplished with volunteers, and we will be seeking additional fundraising.Once this first phase is accomplished, plans will be drawn up to complete the project, including utilities and mechanical systems, restoring the interior and developing the train viewing platform.

How to Help
Please contact the Sutherland Village Board of Trustees and let them know you support this project. You can leave a message for them at the Village Clerk’s office, 308-386-4721.

You can make donations for this project at the Village Clerks office in care of the Sutherland Growth Committee.

You can volunteer your time by contacting Muriel Clark, 308-386-8257 or by email at nebraskaoutback@gmail.com.

For more information about the project, ask to receive a full copy of the grant application.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Know Nebraska; Hayes County Road Trip

Camp Hayes Lake from the spillway

Camp Hayes Lake from the eastern shore

Camp Hayes Lake Campground

Hayes County Canyon

Another Hayes County Canyon

Dickens Elevator

Dickens School
Dickens Commercial building - possibly a bank?

Dickens Door


Inside Dickens commercial building

Camp Hayes Lake in the distance

Grand Duke Alexis Buffalo Hunt historical Marker

Hayes County Schools

Hayes County School Dsitrict

Hayes County Courthouse

Amazing overlook in northern Hayes County

More of the overlook


Still more of the overlook!

Entering the Red Willow Creek valley

Red Willow Creek from Camp Hayes Lake spillway


More beautiful scenery in Hayes County

At the water's edge at the Camp Hayes Lake

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Stories: Sutherland Depot


The railroad built a depot in Sutherland in 1894. The depot was originally located southwest of where Maline’s Super Foods is presently located. When the new highway bridges were built south of Sutherland in 1914, it was moved to the north side of the tracks where the Sutherland Railroad Park is located, just east of Spruce Street.

The building was a 22’ x 50’ frame structure with a stone foundation. The depot had a waiting room, agent-telegraph room, and a freight room. The depot was painted white with the town name and elevation of 2959 painted on the ends. The water tower was just west of the building and the coaling station was across the tracks and slightly west of the depot.

The depot was the center of activity for anything requiring travel or transport in the early days. In 1898 and for several years, if you wanted your laundry done you could take it to the depot on the 13th and 27th of the month and it would be sent to the North Platte Steam Laundry and be returned to you. Cream and other dairy products were shipped by rail from the depot freight office. Creameries in Sutherland were the Beatrice Creamery which was located on what is now Walnut Street. Freight, mail, and passenger services were provided into the 1960’s. With the end of passenger service in the late 60’s the depot was used for freight service only.

The depot served the community until 1971 when the Agency in Sutherland was closed. The depot was closed on March 11, 1971, and was purchased for use as a Community Center and was moved to a lot on Second Street between Maple and Walnut. The Community Center never developed and in July of 1978, the depot was purchased at public auction by Rick and Sharon Parr for $650.

The building was moved to Parr’s I-80 Sports Spot at the Interstate 80 and Highway 25 exit and restoration begun. A small restaurant in the former baggage room was to be the main attraction. Antique wooden café booths with high backs were installed. A foyer for the restaurant in the old ticket office contained remembrances of the past. Eventually the restaurant was discontinued and an antiques operation carried on in the Depot.

In the mid 1990’s, Parr’s sold the service station, and the Depot was again sold at auction and moved to a foundation on a rural road just south and west of Sutherland. Originally the idea was to create a rural restaurant in the building, but the project never developed.

We are now in the beginning of a project to move the Depot back to Sutherland.As you can see from the photos below, it is in a sadly derelict condition.





 Wish us luck!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A week in Lincoln County


I make no secret of the fact that I believe I have the best job in the world. What could be better than helping people have fun? And having a lot of fun yourself in the process!

This past week, though grueling, is a perfect example of that. I accompanied filmmaker Cristian Bohuslavschi, producer of the Crosswest Adventures television series that airs on Altitude TV. We are promoting all of the adventures available in Lincoln County with an episode of Crosswest Adventures for the North Platte / Lincoln County Visitors Bureau, my employer.

Tourism is the third-largest industry in Nebraska, behind Agriculture and Manufacturing. In Lincoln County, it is still third, but behind Agriculture and Transportation. It is a hugely important component of our economy, and by attracting more visitors, encouraging more locals to partake of our offerings, and working steadily to invest in improvements to the "product", we will increase the fun we all can have.

Our week began Monday afternoon with a trek down Cottonwood Canyon to the Wapiti Wildlife Management Area. This scenic WMA covers nearly 2,000 acres and is open to the public year-round. It is perfect for just sitting and contemplating Nebraska's beauty, hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking or horseback riding. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission would like to ask that no trails be created, though, to preserve the sensitive land. Of course, it is also popular during the appropriate seasons for hunting. You'll find deer, elk, turkey and doves, especially.

Horseback riding at Wapiti Wildlife Management Area
For a list of rules to follow when enjoying Nebraska's public lands managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, click this LINK.

Tuesday morning started off bright and early with filming of the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park - the house, barn, log cabin, grounds and the buffalo "herd" (do three buffalo make a herd?). The afternoon was spent exploring the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area. Dusty Trails offers horseback riding through the 200+ acres, though the trees and along the North Platte River. He is also your river outfitter, providing tanks, canoes, kayaks and tube rentals, plus put-in and take-out services. Follow the link to the Dusty Trails website to find the current hours and contact information.
Tubing and Tanking along the North Platte River

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Horseback riding through the trees at the Buffalo Bill State Recreation Area. Notice the campground in the background.
Wednesday brought intermittent showers, including a record-breaking rainfall total for the date in North Platte. Not particularly conducive for filming. However, we did manage to get A LOT done! 

After some interviews in the office, we started off filming at the Lincoln County Wildlife Gun Club south of North Platte at Lake Maloney. This state-of-the-art trap and skeet shooting range is open for regular hours all year long. 
Filming the shooters

Lincoln County Wildlife Gun Club is a very well-appointed shooting range

Then it was a trek down Highway 83 to Wellfleet Lake, a beautiful lake owned by the Village of Wellfleet, with the fishery managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. This means that camping is free, with no need for a park permit, but you do need a fishing license. 

The two negatives I would mention are that there isn't enough manpower available in Wellfleet to keep up with the maintenance of the area. There is lots of trash. Secondly, Wellfleet Lake is being hugely impacted by the poorly thought out Lincoln Farms project where Nebraska's groundwater is being pumped into the Republican River watershed to meet our surface water commitments to Kansas. The first stream to receive the water is Medicine Creek, which feeds Wellfleet Lake. There is actually a pretty substantial current IN THE LAKE, which is detrimental to the fishery that has been developed over the years.
The beautiful Wellfleet Lake from the dam.

Filming our guide, Julie Geiser of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Filming fishermen along the dam.
After Wellfleet Lake, we made a short drive down Opal Springs Road to the Cedar Valley Wildlife Management Area, to showcase the hunting opportunities. This picturesque area is also open to the public year-round for activities such as primitive camping, hiking, horseback riding, and birdwatching. The primary purpose is hunting, so be watchful of hunters during seasons.
Cedar Valley Wildlife Management Area
Thursday morning we headed to Brady to film Mountain Bike riders at Potter's Pasture. If you have never been to Potter's Pasture, you are in for a treat! It is privately owned, but open to the public for Mountain Biking and hiking. During their two formal camp-outs of the year, one in the spring and one in the fall, it is also open for the ATVs of the campers.
Beautiful scenery is the backdrop for some incredible Mountain Biking at Potter's Pasture.

Filming the intrepid Mountain Bikers (Cut... do it again...) at Potter's Pasture.
For more water fun, we headed west to Hershey and the Hershey Wildlife Management Area for scuba diving. The Interstate Lakes are fed from the Ogallala Aquifer, and generally offer clear water for diving year-round. The fisheries are managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, so you'll need a permit to fish, but the diving is free. You'll also need a valid Park Permit to enter the area. The favorites of the divers that we spoke with are the Hershey WMA and the East Sutherland WMA, known locally as Koch's Pond.
Divers, young and old, getting ready to take to the water.
We finished up the day at Lake Maloney and got some good footage of a family tubing, but the wind had come up and the chop was pretty significant, so we called it a day.

The fun wasn't over yet. Friday morning found us (including my husband and our very good friends, as well as my office colleague) at Tobey's Check, along the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District Supply Canal for an early-morning Kayak trip.

Did you know that the Supply Canal (or Tri-County Canal as it is officially called) is completely open to the public for any legal activity from the diversion dam on the North Platte River all the way through Johnson Lake south of Lexington in Dawson County? That's more than 75 miles of fun! This means powered boats (though it is wake-less), kayaking, tubing, tanking, canoeing, camping, hiking... anything you can legally do in and around waterways in Nebraska is legal along the CNPPID canal. PLEASE, be safe, stay away from their dams and hydro facilities, and wear life jackets! And don't confuse this with Nebraska Public Power District, as they don't adhere to the same philosophy!
Nearing the end of the short Tobey's Check to Cottonwood Canyon run.
Putting in at Tobey's Check. Be mindful of the whirlpools!
Saturday we spent the day at the Sutherland Reservoir. There is so much to do here, we weren't able to get it all on film. Starting off we filmed a number of waterfowl, including gulls, pelicans and Blue Herons on the lake and in the cooling pond. A number of fishermen were fishing at the "bubble", and though there was a mild wind blowing creating a little chop, the bay at Hershey Beach was perfect and we filmed jet skis, tubing, skiing and wakeboarding.

The Oregon Trail Golf Course was, as always, beautiful, and quiet during the Nebraska football game. The campground was full of folks enjoying their Labor Day weekend.


Over at the Flatrock Riders OHV Park things were a little louder, but still fun. The facility features three separate courses, suitable for riders of different abilities and offering variety for those honing their skills. One of the courses is more than a mile long. All Off Highway Vehicles are welcome, including four-wheelers and side-by-sides as well as dirt bikes, but no highway vehicles are allowed.

Below: Young and old alike enjoy the action at the Flatrock Riders OHV park.




The next time someone mentions there isn't anything to do locally, challenge them to get out and explore some of the great public facilities in Lincoln County.



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