could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

                                  Kearney Boom & Bust

First Boom – 1888-1893
Kearney was 15 years old (an immature teenager, so to speak)

        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

New Industries/Businesses
        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

The Bust


        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

Annual School Census
    A man was employed to take the school census in School District No. 7 in 1894.
        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.


    16 Businesses closed
    Of the 11 businesses that survived –
        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

Infrastructure debt
        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 - Slow

        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 here

        Growth over the 1930 to 1940 decade was less, probably because of the Depression

Infrastructure debt

        City worked at paying off the debt
        Those bonds were not paid off until about the 1920’s?
        Retained the city’s good credit rating

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Revised: 02/04/2018