could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

Ft. Kearny Bike/Hike Trail

[from BCHS Archives file]

Hub photo and caption:
Property deeds went from Burlington to State Game & Parks Commission
R. E. Caldwell family donated $10,000 to help pay for it.
Minden area raised $7,599 for planks to put on the bridge
Project of removing rails & putting down planks expected to take two years
Roger Sykes was Superintendent of Kearny State Park at that time.

Fund Raising flier by Ft. Kearney Preservation, Restoration & Development Board:
Route – From Ft. Kearny County Recreation area to I-80
1.8 miles long
North end access from Kearney east on 11th Street to a public access road

Hub article: (undated)
Goal of $17,000 to purchase land and develop it
Ft. Kearny Trail Fund Committee
Beverly Kimball, chair
Alice Howell
Jeff Jorgensen [DED]
D. E. McGregor [Gibbon]
Art Pierce [representing the Kearney Recycling Center]
Two bridges across the Platte

Hub article – Monday, April 11, 1977
Donor gave $10,000 for trail
R. E. Caldwell, founder of Caldwell Manufacturing
Burlington offered land for sale for $10,000 last week. Decision to buy had to be made by Apr. 8. First National Bank agreed to loan the money to the Ft. Kearny Preservation Board while they got a fund drive going. Soon after they organized, Caldwell offered his $10,000 gift.

Railroad had already taken bids on rail salvage and bridge demolition.
$1,000 was donated by the Kearney Recycling Center.

Hub article – Friday, April 3, 1981

Bike Trail reflects Unique History
By Alice Howell

Trail within original boundaries of original Ft. Kearney reservation established in 1848
South end of trail is on the Oregon Trail, Pony Express, route and the first telegraph line.
North end on Mormon Trail, California Trail, Overland trail.

Segment of first Burlington route Nebraska – Burlington and Missouri River Railroad
Act of Congress May 6, 1870 authorized this railroad line to connect with the UP at or near the Ft Kearney Military Reservation.

“Fact that Ft. Kearny was the only point west of the Big Blue River having a name and being shown on the maps in that vicinity probably had much to do with this selection “ T E Calvert, former general supervisor of the B & MR RR wrote in letter dated May 22, 1898.

Construction began from Plattsmouth early in 1870.
No bridge across the Missouri so construction materials had to be ferried across.
This was first railroad bridge across the Platte except for a short time at the east edge of the state.

Reconstruction has been necessary through the years
1. For maintenance
2. To conform with changing channels in the Platte
Original length of south bridge was 560 feet. Present bridge built in 1928 is 962 feet long.
Original length of north bridge was 1820 feet. Present bridge built in 1915 is 340 feet. 42 feet filled in 1916 to make it 298 feet.

Hub article – Friday, April 10, 1981

Support Helps New Bike Trail
By Bev Kimball

In 1872 24 miles of track were built from Kenesaw to Kearney.
Nov. 3, 1976 – last train
Mar. 25, 1977 – Abandoned, up for sale to adjacent land owners along the right-of-way
Two weeks allowed for bids and purchase
Ft. Kearny Preservation, Restoration, and Development Board wanted 1.8 miles for a bike-hike trail. Concerned citizens and organizations requested the Interstate Commerce Commission reconsider the environmental impact on this section of the Platte. The Commission ordered them to cease and desist from salvage activities or dismantling of right-of-way and bridges.

Immediately – Ft. Kearny Preservation, Restoration, and Development Board and members of the Buffalo and Kearney County Historical Societies and other interested citizens formed a fund raising committee to “save the bridges”.
State agencies could not by law acquire land without legislative permission. Martin Kahle, supported by Ron Cope, introduced a bill to allow Game & Parks Commission to obtain title to 1.8 miles of abandoned railroad right-of-way. LB527 passed on a 29-1 vote on April 15, 1977.

R E. “Bob” Caldwell presented a check to the Preservation Board on Apr. 11. On April 16 Burlington Northern acknowledged receipt of $10,000 and was submitting the purchase agreement to management. On April 24 William Meier presented the deed to the Game & Parks Commission along with the balance of funds raised for development of the trail. The deed retained salvage rights for ties and rails.

Time Line

Summer 1977 – delays by Burlington in getting the ties and rails picked up

Fall 1977 – roadbed grading completed by a Ft. Kearny crew

Early summer 1979 – pressure treated lumber ordered

Nov. 9 1979 – lumber arrived

Dec. 1979 – historical marker installed between Lowell and Newark where railroad crossed Highway 10

Summer, 1980 – 12-member Youth Conservation Corps crew with 2 supervisors worked 6 weeks on south bridge putting in planking and railing. No power tools could be used so all planks had to be sawed by hand and all bolt holes drilled by hand. Only two of the youths had ever worked with tools. 5,210 bolts & 950 pounds of nails. All but a few feet of planking were done on the first 962 foot bridge by fall.

Summer, 1981 – YCC program extended to work on the north 298-foot bridge.

Hub article – May 17, 1981

Renovated Railroad Bridges Will Give Access to Platte River Paradise
Nebraska Byways by Tom Allen

Kearney-Kenesaw line was abandoned in 1976.

Renovation of the two bridges to be completed this summer

Total 14.4 mile bike-hike trail from Kearney County Recreation Area to Bassway Strip Wildlife Area

Plank floor across the bridge ties and guard rail on 1000 foot south bridge and 300 foot north channel.

Work was first started by a 12-member Youth Conservation Corps. crew in summer 1980. Work on the last span done by 6-member crew. Plans at that time were to blacktop the entire route.


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