could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

                                      The Kearney Cotton Mill, Part 2
A. The Marketing Plan
        Every new business idea must have a plan to present to possible money sources.

        Just as true in 1888 as it is today

        1. Power – Kearney Canal would provide cheap power for running the machines.
                        Easy access; the canal formed north border of cottonmill site.

        2. Labor force – Local farmers’ wives and children (no child labor laws) could work at the mill

        3. Market for the manufactured fabric 
            a. Less expensive to bring cotton from the south to the Midwest instead of clear up to the New England states.
            b. Sell the cloth in the mid-west without the cost of shipping it in from New England factories.

B. The Problems with the Plan

        1. Power – Canal water not always available (froze in winter or Platte dried up in summer); had to bring in carloads of coal on the spur

        2. Labor force – Farmers wives and children not interested, too much work to do on the farm; only a few locals employed
                Unemployed mill workers from south and northeast shipped in; never felt they belonged
                Housing west of the mill; isolated form people in town

        3. Market 
            a. Bringing cotton from the south – Rivalry between Burlington & UP
                Could not bring cotton from Kearney to on the UP spur; UP rates too high for transfer
                Hauled bales of cotton down Central Avenue in wagons

            b. Market for the cloth - Not in Midwest; mostly sold in China
                Added expense of freighting charges from Kearney to San Francisco

C. Years of operation


            Barely able financially to stay in business
            Opening at end of Boom meant many financial sources in the East dried up immediately

D. Closing

        Machinery shipped to a cotton mill in Evansville, Indiana

        Building sat deserted until 1919
        Property purchased by proprietor of Midway Hotel (L A Denison) to make an amusement park

E. Destruction of the building

        Feb 1919 - All but northeast corner, one story, was torn down

        Bricks & lumber salvaged by Denison
        Bricks sold in town for foundations on new houses

F. Destruction of the smoke stack
Location – at northwest corner of the building
        28 feet square base; 125 feet tall
        Scheduled for destruction on March 13, 1919

            A truckload of “normalites” brought by Stryker from the Normal School
            20 cars of other spectators from town
            Came out Watson Boulevard (Seedling Mile of pavement to present day 30th Ave)
            Then through the spring mud almost another mile to the cotton mill site

            Brick base had been removed
            The strong steel cable of a capstan run by horses was attached to a conveniently located tree and then around the base of the smoke stack as far down as they could

                [capstan: a machine with a spool that turns so that rope or a cable can wind around it and move or lift
                 heavy weights (such as a ship's anchor)]

             A sharp pull at the base of the smoke stack would cause the stack to break into pieces and fall more or less straight down rather than lying straight out like a tree.

            Horses pulled cable tighter & tighter; it snapped
            After 4-5 unsuccessful tries, audience gave up & went home

        Reality – A small stick of dynamite solved the problem and the smoke stack came right down

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Revised: 02/04/2018