could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

                               Kearney Amusement Park
                                             (aka Midway Amusement Park)

1. Building of the Park

    March 1919 – Destruction of cotton mill building 2nd floor and over half of 1st floor
        Demolition of the tower

    April, May, June – Renovating remaining northeast corner of building (50’ x150’)
        Dance floor and restrooms - Remaining part of cottonmill building
        Swimming pool – basement revealed when rest of building was dismantled

    Brought in the manager of Krug Park in Omaha to manage the park
    More planned but this is what was done by July 1

2. Opening the Park
    July 2, 1919 – Opened with a dance featuring a 7-piece jazz band.
            Note – July ads alternated between advertising the amusement park and advertising for the need for carpenters
                     and laborers at the amusement park.

    Dances were held regularly, about twice a week – live music, of course
            Various bands were featured.
            Elks lodge held a midsummer dance at the amusement park in August

    September 19 – End of first season (2 ½ months)

3. 1920 & 1921 Seasons
    May 22, 1920 – Opening day, attended by “thousands”
            Work on roads & walks continued as well as on other features

    By end of June - Picnic area available for use
            Pool opened; surface was paved; well put in to supply the water
                Not sure of water supply last summer, maybe the Kearney Canal

            Roller Coaster completed & ready for use
                Tower 100 feet high; electric lights can be seen in Odessa; 10 cars;
                    brought riders to brink of ravine formed by tailrace formed by water from cottonmill

    Kearney’s July 4 Celebration (July 5th) – Amusement Park portion

            Roller coaster, swimming pool & concessions open all day,
            Dance followed by fireworks

    A baseball diamond was completed adding one more source of entertainment

    Organizational activities during both seasons
            Knights of Columbus all day picnic – roller coaster, pool & concessions open; dancing, children’s races.
            A Holdrege church Sunday School held its picnic at the Amusement Park
            Elks again held their Midsummer Party
            Chamber of Commerce Celebration picnic
            American Legion post gala entertainment in Kearney
                    Amusement Park activities:
                    After the 10 am parade - a wrestling match between Charley Pesek and “Rube” Pettijohn of Oxford
                    Evening - swimming races followed by a carnival ball with an “excellent orchestra”

    September 10, 1921 – Final dance of the season, sponsored by the Elks

4. Financing
    October 1919 – Incorporated – Shares of stock was then offered for sale all winter.
            But sales not as good as hoped for.

    November 3, 1920 – Corporation filed for bankruptcy

            Operated through the 1921 season but would not be able to continue after that

    Plans were being made for sale of the equipment and property

5. The Storm
    Saturday night, March 18, 1922 – Rain, thunder & lightening, turned to snow
            Resident west of town saw a giant flash of lightening, thought it hit their barn;
                they later saw glow of light between them and Kearney

    After 10 pm when fire was reported, western sky was lit up

    15 cars got to Seedling Mile before skidding into ditch or stuck in snow drifts & had to be towed out

    Fire truck got within 2 blocks of the Amusement Park before being stopped by downed power and telephone lines.
        But it was too late anyway. The main building was gutted

    Roller Coaster and other smaller buildings were not damaged

    Thus endeth the Kearney’s Midway Amusement Park

6. Bankruptcy sale
    April 22, 1922 –Notice of sale of Amusement Park property including:
        A roller coaster
        A main entrance structure
        1 concession building 120x35x10 feet & 2 smaller glass enclosed concession buildings
        4 small ticket offices and an electric ticket machine
        3 large tents & about 400 folding chairs
        About 100 wire check baskets & a large quantity bathing suits, assorted sizes

    April 26, 1922 – Sale of equipment and property.
        J S Donnell of Kearney purchased the roller coaster, main entrance structure, 3 concession buildings and the
             property (approx. 14 acres).

            Who was Donnell?
                May 29, 1915 – Sale of property to Lincoln A Dennison                                                                        
                December 20, 2015 – Sale of property from Dennison to Donnell
                He had been a partner with Dennison in ownership of the land.

                 [Like when the Kearney Event Center was sold at Sheriff’s Sale and holder of mortgage, Wiens, bought it.]

        Total income from sales far short of total owed on claims

    May 22, 1922 – Roller coaster was being dismantled. It had been sold “to parties from Hastings.”

    June 17, 1922 – Donnell sold property to Herb Kendall


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Revised: 02/04/2018