Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Forward, Looking Backward

My New Years resolution for 2014 was to have more adventures, and I'm pretty sure that I accomplished my goal!
January of 2014 started off mile for winter in Nebraska, and my year started off with a walk around the Sutherland Reservoir Wall and thinking about what the year would bring.

We managed some winter road trips through the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills, then my mom and I departed on an epic adventure, taking the California Zephyr Amtrak train to California to visit the new granddaughter. I highly recommend it if you have never done it!

The trip and my mom's pending 80th birthday got us thinking all things genealogy, and I began researching my family tree in time to make a genealogy book for my mom for her birthday. In doing so, I did the Ancestry DNA testing and found that I am nearly 1/4 Irish! That explains a lot!

Late winter and early spring brought Bald Eagle viewing, road trips across Nebraska, Sandhill Crane viewing and even some great craft beer sampling at a new brew pub in Ord. Hopefully there is a lot more of that in our future! Another trip with mom, this time to Idaho to visit another newly arrived granddaughter came around this time as well.

Summer always brings more "doing" and less "telling". We are busy having so much fun that it's hard to find the time to write about it! Our first year with an RV brought several great road trips. We got a taste of the Panhandle, central and northeastern Nebraska and south central Nebraska. We loved each of those trips and hope to do them again - but there are so many new places to explore!

Then there were weddings of family and friends!

Finally, the last part of 2014 was spent tilting at windmills. Lobbying against the KXL Pipeline - not only does the extraction of tar-sands oil threaten the environment, the particularly volatile oil brings increased dangers of contamination from unreliable pipelines, and there is no proof that allowing the KXL pipeline will have ANY effect on our dependence on foreign oil; Trying to get the Nebraska Public Power District to see the light and reroute the R-Project Powerline away from the fragile Nebraska Sandhills; Shaking my head that the Village of Sutherland is blocking the restoration of our historic Depot. Hopefully 2015 will bring more success and less frustration!

Though not as regularly as I would have liked, I managed to pass along some historical tidbits about Sutherland and the Nebraska Sandhills, which I hope to do more of in 2015.

I also moved toward becoming more fit in 2014. We found that on our travels it was nothing for us to walk several miles every day exploring where we were visiting. Since the RV got winterized, I have kept up with this, walking a couple of miles on the treadmill three to five days a week.

So what does 2015 hold? More adventure; another grand baby, which means another major trip; more consistent blogging; and continuing toward fitness. How's that for resolutions?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Stories: Jim and Florence Flannigan

We received word on Saturday that Florence Flannigan, aged 101, passed away in Colorado. Here is the Flannigan story from the Sutherland Centennial book, and Florence's obituary. In continuing her lasting legacy to the Village of Sutherland, her family has suggested memorials to the Sutherland Depot Restoration Project.

James Edward and Florence Flannigan

James Edward Flannigan and Florence (Kunz) Flannigan were both born and raised in Stuart, Nebraska and graduated from high school in 1932. Jim went to Omaha to find work and Florence went to Casper, Wyoming. They were married in Omaha in 1937, where their first two daughters were born: Patricia and Judy.

In 1943 they moved to Sutherland where Jim accepted a position with Morman Mfg. Co. Two more daughters were born in the Sutherland Hospital: Michele and Jane. All four girls attended and graduated from Sutherland High School.

While Jim spent many hours as a salesman, Florence was busy at home with her family. She joined a bridge club in the 1950s and is still a member of this same club. She is a member of the Sacred Heart Altar Society and active in church affairs, having served in many offices. She was President of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women for the North Platte Deanery. She also completed the Hospice Volunteer Training Program in North Platte and became a Hospice volunteer. She is a Canteen Chairman for the Red Cross Bloodmobile, volunteer at Bethesda Care Center, and serves on the election board.

Florence sums up 53 years of being a housewife as follows: “In your home you are the Director of Health, Education and Welfare; Secretary of the Treasury; the head of Entertainment and Public Relations; Chairman of the House Rules Committee; and the Chief Operating Officer of Family Planning… and you have to be married to a millionaire to be paid what you are really worth.”

Florence Flannigan Obituary

From the North Platte Telegraph.

Florence Flannigan, 101, of Aurora, Colo., formerly of Sutherland, passed away Dec. 20, 2014, in Colorado.

Florence was born Nov. 3, 1913, the sixth of 10 children, to Donat and Emma Pettinger Kunz at Stuart. Her family was important and Florence stayed close to them throughout her life. Every three years the family would meet for a reunion. It was not an event to miss.

Florence grew up in Stuart and attended St. Bonifice Elementary, then graduated from Stuart High School in 1932. On Sept. 7, 1937, Florence was united in marriage to her high school sweetheart, James Edward Flannigan, in Omaha. They moved to Sutherland in 1942 where Florence became a mother of four girls and the wife of a salesman. The Flannigans built their home during the war when it was difficult and next to impossible to get supplies for the building. They started out with two government granaries, then over the years and several additions later, it ended up being a lovely home and well lived in.

Florence was a true housewife, doing all the housewifely duties expected during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s and then some. The freezer was always full, the pantry lined with canned tomatoes, beans and fruit, and the garden was big enough to share. To Florence, these were her happy years.

While Florence was busy at home with the family, Jim started Flannigan Chemical Co., which he operated until he retired in 1974. With Jim’s retirement and the girls going off to college, Florence’s life changed. They were now able to do some wintering in the South until the early ’80s when Jim’s health began to decline. After nearly 58 years of marriage, Jim passed away in 1995.

Florence was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Altar Society. She was active in church affairs, having served in many offices and was president of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women of the North Platte Deanery. Florence helped others through her volunteer work at Bethesda Care and as a Hospice volunteer. She was a Canteen chairman for the Red Cross Bloodmobile and served on the Sutherland election board.

Florence joined a bridge club in the 1950s and was a member for over 40 years. After playing bridge for years and years (until February 2011), Florence was really good at it. She and Jim also had a long-standing cribbage game and liked playing bridge with old friends. Florence was always agile and active; even into her 70s she could get up from a sitting position on the floor without using her hands.
Along with her husband, Jim, Florence was preceded in death by their daughter, Michele “Mike” Arnold; son-in-law, William Echternkamp; her parents, Donat and Emma Kunz; five brothers; and three sisters.

She is survived by her daughters, Patricia Echternkamp, of Seattle, Wash., Judy (Larry) Sheppard, of Denver, Colo., and Jane (William) Patnaude, of Elk Point, S.D.; son-in-law, Sanford “Sandy” Arnold, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; 12 grandchildren, Scott Echternkamp, Amy Hageage, Sarah Echternkamp, John Sheppard, Therese Sheppard, Todd (Monica) Sheppard, Megan Arnold (Michael) Wuertz, Dana (Amber) Arnold, Matthew (Mayme) Patnaude, Ryan (Karen) Patnaude, Sarah (Cannon) Gies and Jordan Patnaude; 14 great-grandchildren; her brother, Bert (Edi) Kunz, of Lincoln; and many nieces, nephews and other family.

Memorials are suggested to the Sutherland Historic Depot Restoration Project.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Weeks of Ups and Downs

What an incredible past few days this has been - filled with ups and downs, steps forward and steps backward.

On December 10th, the Board of Trustees, the governing body of the Village of Sutherland, allowed a motion to accept a $30,000 grant to restore our historic Sutherland Depot to fail for a lack of a second. While the outgoing Chairman of the Board gave them ample time to pursue the issue, the Board kept their eyes glued to their iPads, not even looking me in the face.

On Wednesday, the Sutherland Courier-Times came out with a front page story regarding the vote.

 Also in this issue of the Courier were three letters to the editor taking the Board of Trustees to task for their actions. I am encouraged by this, though one letter was from me, one from my brother (the outgoing Village Board of Trustees Chairman listed above), and one from my daughter living in California. It is to be hoped that the news story along with these letters will spur further discussion.

Also this past week, I received an actual letter in the mail (nearly unheard of in this day and age) from a former Sutherland resident now an educator living in Alaska, who will be home visiting for the summer and wants to volunteer his time helping to restore the Depot. I also received a Facebook message from the owner of a construction firm in North Platte who has ties to Sutherland, volunteering his time and expertise to help in the project. There have been many other expressions of encouragement and offers of help. Will they be enough to turn the tide? Time will tell.

And just this morning, in the most touching gesture of all, I received word that the family of a longtime Sutherland resident, Florence Flannigan, who passed away yesterday has named the Sutherland Depot Restoration Project as the recipient of her memorial funds. I will feature Florence Flannigan's story from the Sutherland Centennial Book in the "Sunday Story" on Sunday, December 28.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Stories: With His Throw Rope He May

My mother turned 80 in 2014 and my gift to her was creating a genealogy book. It got all of us talking about the past and going through old keepsakes. My mother found this poem, published on Thursday, February 13, 1975. I'm guessing it was in the North Platte Telegraph, but it could have been in the Sutherland Courier-Times.

Poem of Yesterday Awakens Old Memories

(The introduction reads) This poem was sent to me by Herman Fischer of Hastings, Nebraska, he had found the poem in Grandma Spear's scrapbook about 7 years ago and thought maybe some of the old Sandhillers would enjoy reading it. Some of the people still live in the west part of the county. Grandma Spear was 97 when she died. They lived in Laramie, Wyoming.


By Nels Fields, March, '36

In the Sandhills of Nebraska,
Where diamond rattlers grow,
There's the stream they call the Birdwood,
And its rippling waters flow.

Swiftly its winding channel,
To the stream they call the Platte.
'Tis the home of white face cattle,
Boot, spur and broad-rimmed hat.

Where you meet the jolly cowboy,
As he rides forth on his hoss.
And the stern faced ranch foreman,
Whom the cowboys call the boss.

The cowboys know their ponies,
And they know their cattle well.
For each critter wears its owner's brand,
That's how they all can tell.

Lew Cogger brands Bar Seven,
John Harshfield the Diamond.
You see the cattle carrying brands,
Every age and sex.

Some split the burlap,
While others mark the ear.
Fred Seifer merely puts
A plain "S" on the rear.

The Field boys have the Bow Tie brand,
They know just where they are.
They know Bill Dikeman's cattle,
When they see the Diamond Bar.

Nels Field has no cattle,
But he has a field of corn,
And if his old throw rope don't bust,
He'll have cattle before the morn.

Locals will recognize many names in this poem. My Grandfather is the Fred Seifer mentioned.

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?


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 cafĂ© 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.

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.

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.

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

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