The Mighty Dandelion!

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 09•21
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on 4/9/2021.

Today’s historic look back looks at the most common, invasive weed: the mighty dandelion! We hope you enjoy this humorous, and informational look at eradicating dandelions over the years!

Now, we Nebraskans know a thing or two about getting rid of dandelions. Before herbicides and chemicals, townspeople became very inventive on how to eradicate the “yellow plague,” as it was called. Dandelions are incredibly prolific and during wet springs, the entire town would be covered by the yellow weeds.

COOKING OPTIONS

The earliest report found was in a cooking column in the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune dated 5-22-1917. “By placing boards over spots where the dandelions were coming in thick would cause the plants to turn white (yes those little buggers still grow with no light). Cooks discovered that when the plants turned white, that they were especially tender. Serving them uncooked with shredded onion and French dressing seemed to be a good way to use the weed.

COMPETITION AND COMMUNITY PRIDE

On May 16, 1919, the newspaper declared that a drive was on, to rid our city of the “yellow peril”. The Twentieth Century Club was asking every patriotic citizen and all clubs to join in the drive. Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts, school children and teachers were asked to join in. The drive was to start on a Saturday and continue for one week. Prizes would be given to the school that brought in the most dandelions. They stressed for all to work together for a more beautiful North Platte by removing every trace of the “yellow paint” that nature has covered the city with. A week late it was announced that Washington School had won the battle of the “yellow pest” by collecting 1,357 POUNDS! Jefferson School got second place with 1,266 pounds! Kids showed up with gunny sacks filled, long knifes in hand, and armed to the teeth. Parents complained that children were spending all night out in the dark digging away. Two cash prizes, of two dollars and fifty cents each, were given the boy and the girls bringing in the most dandelions. A picnic was held for all the children. Each school also received a peck of peanuts for their efforts.

PUNISHMENT

On May 7, 1921, the Evening Telegraph reported that five young men who staged a party, during which somebody was assaulted, were all sentenced to jail for thirty days of hard work. Part of their punishment was picking/digging up dandelions off of the court house lawn!

HIRING KIDS AND WOMEN TO DIG OUT DANDELIONS

In 1921 you could hire the Boy Scouts to dig dandelions. They charged 25 cents per hour to dig. On April 16, 1932, the Evening Telegraph printed an article stating that a local women who had boasted of digging 15,000 dandelion plants was getting even more phone calls requesting her services. She turned all them down with a stern “no,” because she was digging dandelions every night in her sleep!

DANDELIONS FOR A FREE MOVIE SHOW!

In the spring of 1936 the Fox Theater and KGNF radio station offered the youth of the city a free pass to a show at the theater for every 10 pounds of dandelions they dug up and brought to the radio station. According to the Lincoln County Tribune dandelions arrived in toy wagons, gunny sacks, and paper bags. Much to the delight of several homeowners, many yards had dandelions “stolen”. A total of 4 ½ tons (some 9,000 POUNDS) of dandelions were delivered. Due to the “overwhelming proportions of dandelions received, the station and theater found themselves, “on the spot.” They made good on their word and the kids of North Platte were treated to a “dandy party.” The Fox Theatre Corporation held a “dandelion matinee for the children. They came in droves and “whooped and hollered and stamped their feet.” See photograph and article on this.

NPHS FRESHMEN

In 1941 the freshmen of the North Platte Senior High School were assigned to digging dandelions. The boys were divided into two groups. Both groups started at each end of the field digging to the fifty yard line. When they got to the center, Coach Wilson didn’t think they worked hard enough; so he had them move to the sidelines of the field and keep pulling those weeds. If they were caught fooling around they had to rake up all the pulled plants laying on the field.

We hope you enjoyed our tribute to the mighty dandelion weed. May they not show up in your yard!

Salute to Nellie Snyder Yost

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 02•21
Originally published to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on April 2, 2021.

Today’s North Platte History Story is a belated salute to Women’s History Month, which just ended on March 31st. We are highlighting a wonderful, inspirational North Platte woman, historian and author — Nellie Snyder Yost. She was only 4 foot 8 inches tall, but she was mighty woman who loved life!

Nellie Snyder Yost was born on June 20, 1905 in a sod house in northwestern Lincoln County to Albert and Grace Bell Snyder. Within 2 weeks of her birth, her family moved to McPherson County. As an infant, Nellie suffered a childhood illness that permanently damaged her spine and slowed her growth, resulting in her diminutive height.

When Nellie was 14 years old, the Snyder family moved to Maxwell (1919). Nellie was a sickly child and although she missed about a month of school each year; she still managed to graduate from Maxwell High School as class valedictorian in 1923. Nellie’s sister, Billie Lee Snyder wrote “We called Nellie the GREAT BRAIN because she knew many words and the meaning of them all – even how to spell them. I remember hearing her say, “I like words. I like the way they feel when they roll off my tongue.” From “Sandhills Kid in the City 1927-1938” by Billie Lee Snyder Thornburg.

After High School graduation, Nellie taught country school in McPherson County, riding horseback to her assigned school, some six miles every day! After teaching for one year she moved to Oregon and worked in a department store. In 1929, Nellie moved back to Nebraska and on July 6, 1929, she married Harry Yost. The couple lived on a ranch in Box Elder Canyon, south of North Platte for 30 years. Harry and Nellie had one child; a son, Thomas Snyder Yost.

In 1949 Nellie published her first book, “Pinnacle Jake.” The book is a recounting of her father’s stories about the west and ranching.

Harry’s health declined during the latter years of his life and he spent his last five years in the Grand Island Veterans Hospital. During those years, Nellie spent about 10 days out of each month sitting by his bedside, writing manuscripts in long hand. When Harry died in 1968, Nellie moved back to North Platte where she was very active in the Lincoln County Historical Society. She was part of the driving force to build a Lincoln County Historical Museum in 1976. She was also active in the Nebraska Writers guild and the Riverside Baptist Church. On August 30, 1984, Nellie married Frank A. Lydic. He was a longtime friend and fellow writer.

Shortly before her death, Nellie wrote her last book, “Evil Obsession: The Annie Cook Story.” It was also probably the book she became most famous for, at least locally. North Platte Telegraph editor, Keith Blackledge called the book a work of history that looked at the darker side of North Platte. The book was about a woman named Annie Cook who ran the Lincoln County Poor Farm. Annie was the true definition of evil. She was a corrupt woman, mentally and physical abusive to everyone she knew, and was accused of murder. It was a book about greed and power. And it was all true. Nellie had changed the character names to protect the people and the families that were still alive and living in the area; as well as some of the locations and directions around North Platte and Lincoln County. Of course, shortly after it was published, many lists surfaced with the real names of the people matching each character in the book.

Nellie spent many years doing research on the book, interviewing people who knew Annie, digging through the information to get to the truth. And when things got hard to bear, she put the manuscript aside. When she finished finally writing the book, the process had taken its toll on Nellie’s health. One can only imagine the inner turmoil and stress she felt when writing about community people she knew personally (townspeople, politicians, doctors, businessmen, church people, and more).

On November 9, 1991, Frank died. Soon after, while finishing a trip to promote “Evil Obsession,” Nellie developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. She was transferred to a Lincoln Nebraska hospital, where she died on January 16, 1992. She was buried beside her first husband, Harry Yost at Fort McPherson National Cemetery. The Lincoln Star Journal wrote, “Yost often said that her epitaph should read “she loved life”. Nebraskans are the richer because she lived it so fully.

Awards and honors:

  • Tenth Annual Spur Award for Boss Cowman, 1969
  • Eyes of Nebraska Award, Nebraska Optometric Association, 1970
  • Golden Saddleman, 1975
  • Western Heritage Wrangler Award, Cowboy Hall of Fame, for Buffalo Bill, 1979
  • Nebraska Foundation Pioneer Award, 1982

Bibliography of her books:

  • “Pinnacle Jake”. Caxton Printers, Ltd. Caldwell, Idaho. 1951.
  • “The West that Was”. Southern Methodist University Press. Dallas, Texas. 1958.
  • “No Time on My Hands”. Caxton Printers Ltd. Caldwell, Idaho. 1963.
  • “The Call of the Range”. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio. 1966.
  • “Medicine Lodge”. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio. 1966.
  • “Boss Cowman”. Nebraska University Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1969.
  • “Before Today”. Holt County Historical Society. O’Neill, Nebraska. 1976.
  • “Buffalo Bill: His Family, Friends, Fame, Failures, and Fortunes”. Ohio University Press. Athens, Ohio. 1979.
  • “A Man as Big as the West”. Pruett Publishing Company. Boulder, Colorado. 1979—biography of Ralph Hubbard.
  • “Back Trail of an Old Cowboy”. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1983.
  • “Keep On Keeping On”. Self-Published. 1983.
  • “Pinnacle Jake & Pinnacle Jake Roundup.” J.L. Lee Publishers. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1991.
  • “Evil Obsession: The Annie Cook Story”. Westport Publishers. Lincoln, Nebraska. 1991.

Hendy-Ogier Auto Company

Written By: nppladmin - Mar• 26•21
Originally published to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on March 26, 2021.

Our History Series looks back over 100 years ago to…

February 27th, 1912 a partnership was formed when Edwin Ogier and William Hendy leased the LeMasters garage at 215 East 6th, North Platte, Nebraska They formed a partnership to sell cars, specifically Ford automobiles. In case you are wondering, Henry Ford and 12 others invested $28,000 and created the Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903. The first car built by the Company was sold July 15, 1903. Henry owned 25.5% of the stock in the new organization. He became president and controlling owner in 1906.

Back to North Platte History, the business partnership was called the, “Hendy-Ogier Auto Company” and business was good. So good, that on August 12th, 1913 the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune announced they had moved to a larger location.

Local physician, Dr. Nicholas McCabe was constructing a new building on the corner of 4th and Dewey and signed an agreement with the partners to lease the west half of the lower floor of his new two story building to them. The Hendy Ogier Auto Company stayed in the McCabe Building until they saw a need to expand once again. Some four years later, in July of 1917, they bought a 66X 132 foot lot, east of the Elks Building with the intentions of putting up a two-story building. They also took out an option for the additional 44 foot lot east of their new lot.

It was an ideal location for the partners. The Lincoln Highway, which was new, would pass right by the front of their new building. The Lincoln Highway is one of the earliest transcontinental highway routes for automobiles across the United States of America. Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City west to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It originally ran through 13 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. In 1915, the “Colorado Loop” was removed, and in 1928, a realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. Thus, there are a total of 14 states, 128 counties, and more than 700 cities, towns and villages through which the highway passed at some time in its history.

On July 4, 1918 they opened up their doors for the first time in their own building. The cost to build was $11,000.

By 1924, Ogier and Hendy saw a demand for gasoline filling stations and decided to expand into the option on the original lot, to the east. On April 18, 1925, the new two-story “superstation” opened facing Fourth and Pine (now Bailey) Streets. It was built to match the west two-story building of canary brick. The second floor on the east side was a 44 X 66 machine shop.

In October of 1929 they enlarged and remodeled the building. They added extra space, re-enforcing concrete, and added the third floor for roof parking. Total floor space would be 70,000 square feet. The remodeling was done by Beck Construction.

In 1934 a wall was put up and the east side became a Pontiac Dealership while the west side remained the Ford Dealership.

On October 15, 1938 the North Platte Telegraph announced the firm was sold to Joe Souder of North Platte, and Allen & Paul McQuire from Grand Island. The building remained an auto dealership, changing names many times, until 1961 when it opened its doors as the O’Connor Five and Ten Cent Store. Many years later it became Whitaker’s Furniture Store. Today it is the Bruce Furniture Store.

Many members of the North Platte community remember the original ramp that was used to drive cars up to the 2nd floor as being the ramp that took kids up to the second floor of the O’Conner store. That is where all the toys were kept!

We hope you’ve enjoyed another post on North Platte History! Have a great weekend!

North Platte High School #4

Written By: nppladmin - Mar• 19•21
Originally published to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on March 19, 2021.

Today we continue our salute to North Platte Schools and Education History-with a look at the North Platte High School building, the fourth high school facility built in approximately 1930 and demolished in 2003. This is the high school that many of our readers will remember. Read on for the “short history by year”, and read on for more detailed information:

  • 1929 bond issue passes for the construction of the fourth high school
  • 1933 new senior high school building opens
  • 1948 bond issue passes for the construction of a separate Adams Junior High School building located on the same lot west of the “1930 NPHS building”
  • 1950 Adams Junior High School located west of the “1930 NPHS building” opens
  • 1963 The 1930 NPHS building addition was constructed
  • 1971 bond issue fails
  • 1975 bond issue passes for the construction of a new Adams Junior High School building on McDonald Road, plus a connection added between the 1930 original HS building and 1963 addition to the 1950 Junior High building.
  • 1993 bond issue fails
  • 1997 bond issue fails (this attempt was to build a new high school on East Philip Ave)
  • 1998 North Platte High School Facilities Task Force is formed
  • 2000 bond issue passes for a new NPHS to be built on the same area
  • 2002 North Platte Public Library attempts to save the original NPHS 1930’s building for reuse as a public library.
  • 2002 1930’s NPHS building torn down for construction of the new facility.
  • 2003 the FIFTH and CURRENT North Platte Senior High School building opens

A special Thank you to the North Platte Telegraph, “The Round-UP” High School Annuals, and the archives of the North Platte Public Library.

Read on for the full story…

By 1920, North Platte’s student population had grown to 1,685 students and the existing High School was overcrowded. For years the overcrowding was so bad that students were in schoolrooms located in the basement of the “old school building” (located where Wells Fargo sits today). The basement rooms were poorly lighted, poorly heated and poorly ventilated.

On the May 28, 1929, the Board of Education asked the people of the school district to authorize the issuance of a $480,000.00 school bond for the purpose of finishing the incomplete Cleveland and Roosevelt schools, and the construction of the Senior High, Cody and Taft schools. The actual cost of JUST the Senior High School building was $364,535.37. The bond issue passed. The new high school was planned on the “outskirts of town,” West 2nd Street.

The tract set aside for the new senior high school was 15 acres, located at 1000 West Second Street. At the rear of the building was the athletic field, which allowed football, baseball, track, and tennis to be played. In addition, a reinforced concrete stadium that seated 1,500 people was built.

The building was of red faced brick and artistically trimmed with terra cotta. All floors were reinforced concrete; the class room floors were covered with “battleship linoleum”. This flooring product was used in high traffic areas and originally manufactured to meet the specifications for the U.S. Navy for warship deck coverings instead of wood, hence the name. The corridors and stairs were made of terrazzo. Terrazzo consisted of chips of marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable material, poured with a cement-like binder, or polymeric binder, or a combination of both. The corridor wainscoting was made of glazed brick and there were 700 recessed lockers for the students to use. And finally, a large trophy case greeted students and visitors in the foyer area.

There were 18 classrooms and special laboratory-recitation rooms for physics, chemistry, biology, sewing, cooking, and typewriting. Other special rooms included: music room, manual training shop, auto shop, mechanical drawing room, cafeteria, library, lady teacher room, men teacher rom, administration room, health room, a large study hall and an auditorium.

The auditorium, eventually known as the “Little Theater” seated up to 1,100 people and was equipped with a projection room and a large stage, which also served as a gymnasium. It also had an orchestra pit, a balcony, and side dressing rooms. The large stage gymnasium, with its glazed brick walls, included locker and shower rooms for boys and separate shower facilities for girls. The final performance in the Little Theater was the 2003 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant.

The building was fireproof, beautiful, spacious, convenient, modern, practical, and a monument of pride.

Meginnis and Schaumberg from Lincoln, Nebraska were the primary architects.

Pressured by overcrowded conditions at the existing junior high school, caused freshmen to attend the senior high school, and concerned citizens and parents held another bond issue on April 6, 1948. This bond issue called for the construction of a new junior high school building on the same site as the senior high school building, another 13 acres located adjacent to the 1930 building. The new separate Adams Junior High school was completed in 1950 at a cost of $987,000. In 1963, an addition on the west end of the senior high school was built as part of a two-million dollar bond issue. The addition opened in 1963/64 school year and contained new rooms for science, vocal music, art, as well as new gymnasiums for physical education, wrestling, and gymnastics. The addition also included a new auto mechanics shop, a wood shop, a new library and cafeteria with seating for 300 students.

In the 1970s, a need was recognized to expand, replace, and modernize many of the city’s schools. A 168 page report was complete by the University of Northern Colorado’s Educational Planning Service about the conditions throughout the school district. The report noted that with the high school and junior high school sitting on the same site, it was severely congested. The report also found that many of the North Platte Senior High Schools’ classrooms were too small and that the building itself was overcrowded. In 1975, the Citizens Advisory Committee distributed “Look and See,” a small brochure which highlighted safety and efficacy concerns at a number of school buildings and urged voters to support an upcoming bond issue to address these issues. The $9.99 million bond was approved by 60% on October 21, 1975. Part of the measure called for the construction of a new junior high school on another site (known known as Adams Middle School—located on 1200 McDonald Road) and a connection of the 1930 and 1963 sections of the North Platte High School with Adams Junior High, creating a larger senior high school.

This arrangement remained until January 1998, when another citizens group, the North Platte High School Facilities Task Force, was formed in order to identify and prioritize the North Plate High School Districts’ High School facility’s needs, “to find a solution to those needs, and to recommend the solution to the Board of Education. This task force completed its work in April 1999. The task force identified a number of immediate needs concerning the building’s site, security, education space, mechanical systems, life safety, and accessibility. The group considered both the renovation of the existing building, as well as a new construction project and found that “the total costs of the solutions involving renovation were substantially similar to the cost of construction a new building on the same site.” The groups report noted that the total cost of ownership would be lower for new construction and that the renovation did not resolve all the concerns it had found. As a result, the group recommended the construction of a new facility on the same site.

Despite previous elections for new construction, which failed in 1971, 1993, and 1997, and a proposal for a major renovation of the current building which failed in 1994, a bond issue for the task force’s proposal was passed by 63% on April 4, 2000.The new building was completed in the fall of 2003 at an approximate cost of $29 million dollars.

Even though this bond issue passed and community members broke ground on the new building on April 7, 2001, there was a group of citizens who desperately wanted to save the historic original 1930’s building. This group partnered with library director Cecelia Lawrence to try to save the building for reuse as the North Platte Public Library. On May 14, 2002, a bond issue to save the building and reuse it as a public library, failed with 46% of the voters and the 1930’s building was torn down to make way for a parking lot in the fall of 2002.

This post is Part 2 of a three-part series on the history of North Platte Education and School History. Part 1 (posted on 2/19/21) featured the first three school buildings in North Platte and the challenges facing educators in Western Nebraska. Today’s post is Part 2 and it featured the fourth and fifth High School buildings. Part 3 (scheduled for April 2021) will feature the Catholic School history of McDade and St Patrick’s Schools.

The 1921 Flood

Written By: nppladmin - Mar• 12•21
Originally posted to Facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on March 12, 2021.

Nearly 100 years ago, on Monday, June 13, 1921 at 2:00 pm, the south two piers of the South Platte River Bridge collapsed. This event impacted travel, trade, and supplies between the city and the south end of the county for months. The bridge was less than 5 years old and constructed at a cost of $40,000 with the State of Nebraska paying 50%. In today’s dollars, the cost of construction would have approached $700,000 according to usinflationcalculator.com. So why did the bridge collapse?

A major storm with multiple cloudbursts in Colorado had drenched nearly the entire state from June 2-7. All areas of the Arkansas and South Platte River Basins received an average of 3.8 inches during the storm. Silver Lake, in the South Platte River Basin, received a whopping 10.88 inches of rain according a government document published in 1948 called “Floods in Colorado” by Follansbee and Sawyer. The Arkansas River flood is the most talked about to this day, nearly wiping Pueblo Colorado off the map and out of existence. But the South Platte River flood is what impacted Nebraska.

In Lincoln County, the South Platte River was still a bit swollen from normal snow melt, and this historic storm water from Colorado was quickly turning the shallow stream into a roaring current. Four employees of the county were standing on the first piers to collapse when the bridge failed. Three made it off in time but a fourth, John Walker, went down into the churning water. He grabbed one of the piers and held on until a line was thrown to him and he was pulled to safety. Just before the collapse, several sight-seers were lining the bridge and had just moved off the two piers. It’s amazing no lives were lost.

A third pier that was sagging, finally gave way at 8pm. A fourth collapsed at noon the next day. And a fifth pier was expected to go at any time. It was reported to have 24 feet of water running under the south end of the bridge at the time of the collapse and water 28 feet deep was measured at the north end of the bridge. In Sutherland, two spans of a bridge there over the same river collapsed at midnight. These events were reported by The Evening Telegraph on June 13 and June 14, 1921.

Within a day of the collapse, the strong current had also washed out the north approach to the bridge and the remaining upright piers had no bank access. Farms and workers stranded on the south side of the river became the focus of supply and rescue operations. A 16 foot boat was constructed within 48 hours of the initial collapse. The boat had a 3.5 hp gas motor with oars for backup, and was able to carry over 1,000 pounds of cargo. Mail, food including milk from the Experimental Station, supplies, and passengers were ferried across.

In the aftermath, a spicy article penned by Keith Neville targeting Governor McKelvie and Mr. George Johnson, the State Engineer, appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star on January 20, 1922. This was a rebuttal to an article that appeared January 17, 1922 in The Nebraska State Journal accusing former governor Neville of misstatements and false accusations during his address to the democratic state central committee. Evidently original bridge construction plans drafted by the State Engineer called for 20 foot width with pilings driven to a depth of 40 feet. After the flood, it was determined by the State of Nebraska that the bridge was 16 feet wide and most pilings were driven to 20 feet and none driven to 30 feet depth. The State claimed that if the bridge was constructed as originally planned by the State Engineering Board, it would not have failed. Mr. Neville claimed that the State drew up plans that narrowed the channel from 1/2 mile to 600 feet and increased pressure from a more narrowed channel was the cause of the collapse. In reality a historic storm, narrowed or un-buffered channel, and a less beefy bridge likely all played a role in its early demise.

The “new” concrete bridge that collapsed was built during World War I and completed in 1918. The concrete bridge replaced an adjacent wooden bridge that was constructed in 1872. When the new bridge was built, the original cedar pilings that supported the first wooden bridge were left standing in the river and can be seen in the background of the pictures of the failed bridge. At the time the permanent re-building of the concrete bridge was being discussed in late 1921, the new Lincoln County Courthouse was also beginning construction. The wooden pilings left in the river from the 1872 bridge were pulled up, found to be in great condition, and re-used as support pilings under the foundation of the courthouse according to the North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune on December 9, 1921. It took over a decade to complete construction of our current courthouse, but that’s a story for another day.