First Boom –
1888-1893 Kearney was 15 years old (an immature
teenager, so to speak)
Population Grew from 1,782 in 1880
to 8,074 in 1890
Estimated by city leaders to have reached 10,000 by 1892 at peak of Boom
just before the Bust
27 opened during the Boom Period, (2 others planned did not open) 16
businesses started and closed during the Boom 11
businesses started and survived the end of the Boom.
Sewer, water, electricity lines constructed by the city
1900 – 5,634
A drop of 30%, or 50% if we believe the city leaders estimate of 10,000 at
the peak of the Boom in 1892
A man was employed to take the school census in School District No. 7 in
He was required to visit each dwelling house in the district He made
note of the number of dwelling houses and the number vacant. He
found 1,400 dwelling houses in the city; 700 were vacant.
What happened to
the vacant houses? Hundreds were moved out on the
farms of Buffalo County, some as far as 20 miles from the city. Many of the large houses in
West Kearney, vacated after the Boom, were moved into Kearney.
Businesses 16 Businesses closed Of the 11 businesses that
2 closed in 1894-5; 2 more closed in 1896-7. The
remaining 7 were still open at the turn of the century.
5 of them closed sometime after 1900.
2 of the 27 opened during the Boom are still in existence today (2017)
Midway Bottling Works which was sold to Keenan in 1904 to become the Coca
Cola Bottling Company
Kearney Hub which continues to publish a daily newspaper although their
bindery has closed
What about the empty business buildings?
Many buildings were repurposed when an industry closed
Example: Metcalf Cracker Co
Some empty buildings were abandoned by the industries that closed
Woolen mill, Paper mill, Oatmeal factory
Utility lines that had been constructed created a bonded indebtedness.
With a 30% - 50% drop in population after the Boom ended, the tax base had
shrunk making repayment difficult.
The Climb Back -
Did not get back to the 8,000 mark until about 1929; official population in
1930 was 8,757
Growth per decade from 1900-1940 was an average of 1000 per year
But there was growth every year. Apparently people still saw opportunity
over the 1930 to 1940 decade was less, probably because of the Depression
worked at paying off the debt Those
bonds were not paid off until about the 1920’s?
Retained the city’s good credit rating