could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:


        We mourned the passing of Judge Wolf within this past month.  He was very interested in the history of Kearney.  Somehow over the years he had acquired a piece of Kearney's streetcar rail.  During our Q125 Celebration Judge Wolf made some souvenirs by cutting the rail into 3" pieces, polishing them, and gluing on an identifying label.  These were sold to help raise funds for the purchase two motorized trolleys (Carl & Rosy).  He gave one of these pieces of rail to each of us who were serving on the Q125 planning committee.  As I looked at mine the other day I wondered:
    What do we really know about the streetcar system in Kearney?  While it is referred to frequently, I found that no history of the system has been pulled together.

    Here I've put together a timeline of events relating to the construction of the electric street car system.  But first, a little background.

Horse drawn streetcar system

1887 - Some businessmen organized a tram line – the horse drawn streetcar

Aug. 1888 – GAR Reunion – For street transportation visitors rode the horse-drawn trolley cars from downtown to the lake pavilion. Street cars came within two blocks of the camp….[people walked in those days]

The bus barn may have been somewhere on Central, maybe south of tracks since several stable were located here.
        Evidence: Nov 25, 1889 – Methodist Sociable

            The Trinity M.E. church ladies were giving a supper to help raise funds for the new church.
            It was held in the store building three lots west of the street car barn on Central-ave.

Construction of the Electric Streetcar System

July 3, 1889 – Announcing the Electric Street Car - "The Electric Road"
        Replacing the present slow method of travel
        New electric cars will be able to go 12 mph.
            (May 20, 1890 – City Council set the speed of the electric motor cars at 8 mph on Central
                & 13 mph on side streets.)

        There were to be six cars to start with.
        They would run near enough to Kearney Lake to accommodate summer activities there.

July 29, 1889 – Two men were out surveying the streets for the proposed motor line.

July 30, 1889 – A Description of the Electric Street Car System - "Electric Transit"
    [Remember, these were the initial plans]
        George W. Frank owns the majority of stock in the company
        Current Kearney Street railway and franchise was transferred to the Thompson-Houston Co.
        Thompson-Houston has a three year operation contract.

            Will build ten miles of track with a Jan 21, 1890 deadline for completion.

Cars - Pullman with electric lights and heating.

Track - standard gauge so freight cars can be removed from the railroad and bring freight to any part of the city.

Route - Make “a beltline extending to East Lawn, South Kearney, Kenwood, West Kearney, and accommodating the business and principal residence sections.”

Work to begin as soon as possible. Orders had already been sent for supplies such as ties and iron.

Dec 5, 1889 – "The Rails Arrive
                                    Work Will Now Commence on the Electric Street Railway.
        At 4 o’clock this afternoon four cars of rails for the Kearney Electric Street railway arrived in the city. Work will now commence on its construction and it will be in running order by January if the street cars already ordered reach the city in time."

Dec 6, 1889 – "Get a candle and look"
       Referencing the news in the Hub and Enterprise that the rails had arrived, the Journal wondered where they were, that they were “most assuredly” not in Kearney yet. He called on the papers to print the truth.

        In response the Hub suggested that a tallow candle be lit.
            Go to the southeast corner of Downing’s elevator. (RR between A-B aves.)
            “Then take 172 pace, 24” in length, west, in a straight line.  You will find a flat-car painted a dark red, No. 293 marked ‘T. & S. L. & K.C.R.R.’ capacity 50,000….. On the car are 100 rails, a number of bolts and ‘fish-plates.’
The other cars are similar in appearance, which can be easily ascertained by the aid of the aforesaid taper.”

May 19, 1890 – [Construction season had begun] "---The poles for the electric wire were distributed along the route."

July 9, 1890 – Completion of the Central Avenue portion - "Electric Cars are Coming."
        (Old track on Central was replaced)
        "The work of laying track down Central avenue for the electric street cars goes forward at a rate surprising to the onlooker.  The span wiring is following up the laying of the ties and rails and within a day or two the line will be complete as far as the railroad. The track laying will go below the U. P. track to-morrow."

July 11, 1890 – "Down the Ave "
        First trip was made at 3:20 in the afternoon from the old Midway site (remember, it had burned in March) to the railroad.  People lined the street and greeted the car with cheers and waving hats.  Horses were startled by the commotion and tried to get away.

July 12, 1890 – Streetcar tracks had been extended to the courthouse

Sept 9, 1890 – "Eastern Suburbs Route decided"
        "People are now accustomed to the jingle and gong of the street car on Central and west to the power house. "
        The route east was delayed because of a dispute between residents on two competing streets.

        The route will run east on 27th street to Grand Ave.
        Turn northeast along the avenue, described as the center artery of East Lawn.
        Run out to 35th & Y where it would turn west to Central.
        At this time it was complete up to the K & BHRR track at Ave R.]

Copyright ©   All rights reserved


You may use content from this web site for your personal, not-for-profit purposes only. 


 Search Our Site

Please send Mardi Anderson your comments/feedback

Revised: 02/04/2018