could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

                                 Paving Central Avenue

Original story as told during Kearney Centennial
        Brick paving of Central Ave. was done by one black man while rest of the crew prepared the street bed and brought him the bricks.
        Over the years the detail was added that being black, the crew had to camp outside the city limits at night.

        No record of sources for that story survived

        Review of newspapers and our Archives photo collection does support that story but evidence was hard to find and the details of the paving were interesting, providing some new information

First Paving Plans


    Feb. 14, 1910 – Kearney Commercial Club held the first of a planned series of bi-weekly meetings
                            to discuss the welfare of the city.

            Topic of meeting was paving Central Ave.
            General sentiment was that it should be done without delay and that it should be brick.
    July 19, 1910 – Paving District #1 approved – the alley between Central and 1st Ave, Railroad to 22nd St.
            Brick suggested, but material to be used not decided.

            Paving District #1 finally completed, done in cement paving

            Paving District #2 approved – 21st St west 1 block, then south 1 block to north Railroad St.


    January – Paving District #3 approved – Railroad St. from 1st to Central

    March – John A Beebe of Omaha awarded contract to do Districts #2 and #3
        3 inch base of concrete; with covering of 3 inches of sand
        ¼ inch space around each brick, fill with hot asphalt which would be spread over the surface

    April – Grading began; about 20 carloads of brick stacked on curbs of streets to be paved.

[A year later] – 1915 – Finally the year of the paving of Central

    April – New city council meeting for first session considered Paving District #4, an ordinance to pave Central from Railroad to ally north of Midway Hotel.
    Planned to pave 2 blocks at a time.
        Prepare bed in one block and while being paved it, prepare the next block.
        Provide the least disruption of the street as possible.
        [Good idea but didn’t work out that way, prepared more than a block at a time]

    May – Advertised for bids to pave Central Avenue from 18th to Lincoln Way

    July – Contract awarded to John A Beebe Company of Omaha. (same company that did paving of Dist. 2 &3 around block from 21st to1st to RR to Central
        Project to start no later than August and be completed by October 4
        Beebe said he intended to start as soon as possible.
        170 carloads of brick would be needed.
        Labor, with the exception of one or two expert brick layers, to be done by Kearney men – if available
            [Proof that one man laid all the brick]

        End of month - Beebe behind on paving work in Nebraska and Iowa, largely due to heavy rains
            Was afraid he would not be able to start the Kearney job

            Agreed to transfer the contract to E. D. Tynor Construction of Kansas City.
            City council approved

Mid-August – Street Paving Work Delayed
  Tynor’s equipment had not arrived yet.
        All workers could do was remove curbing and make preliminary arrangements.

August 14 – equipment arrived and but work delayed by rain
        4 days later grading began on Central Ave on the first three blocks south from 25th.
        But brick had not arrived yet.

August 25 – Large crews at work under grading and laying the concrete crown on Central.
        [This was season of lots of farm work – haying & then corn picking, probably no local labor
        Archives photo of black work crew – proof a black man laid the brick

        The brick had been unloaded but concrete needed about 10 days to dry before brick could be laid

Week later – Construction was again delayed
        This time due to the lack of a sufficient supply of gravel for the concrete
        Another gravel pump had been ordered but had not arrived yet.

September 4 – Testing of the paving brick done by Councilman Bolt and City Engineer Morey.
            10 bricks were placed in the testing drum and spun for one hour
            To pass the test brick was not to show more than 20% wear.
            Mostly this brick did better than that.

            Then they did another test: chunks of other building materials used in Kearney were added to the barrel with the 10 street bricks

            –curbing made of hard concrete, granite, old street crossing concrete, and other stone.

            After the hour the paving brick were still there but all the other materials were gone. They had all powdered.

September 14, 1915 – Intersection at Lincoln Way and Central reopened after completion of brick laying

October 11, 1915 – (almost a month later) The bricklayers were working south of the tracks
        Since the laying of concrete was done, Tynor loaded his equipment for shipment to Grand Island.
        Two days later his equipment was unloaded to be used to pave the Seedling Mile.

October 15, 1915 – (Friday) Last thing - The sand needed had been hauled.
        Brick had been laid beyond 19th St. midway to 18th.

November 3rd, a Friday night
        Two men in the “colored colony” working with the paving gangs [for West Lincoln Way] had an argument

        One man pulled a knife and cut the other one under the right arm and on the chest.

        The cuts were not deep but apparently he bled a lot and was “covered [with blood] from head to toe” when he stumbled into town looking for a doctor.
        The attacker took off but he was back to work the next day

Color had not been mentioned in 1915 – Nothing newsworthy, like that fight, happened


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Revised: 02/04/2018