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Nebraska National Register Sites
in Sheridan County


Rural Sites

Camp Sheridan and Spotted Tail Indian Agency Site [25-SH-21] Listed 1974/11/19

In 1873 under the leadership of Spotted Tail, the Brule Sioux moved from their prior agency near Fort Randall, Dakota Territory to northwest Nebraska, and finally to an agency overlooking Beaver Creek, near present-day Hay Springs. The agency was composed of storehouses, an issue building, a carpentry shop, a sawmill, stables, and other structures. To guard the agency, Camp Sheridan was established as a tent camp in the fall of 1874 about one mile from Spotted Tail Agency. Permanent facilities were constructed in the spring of 1875 consisting of over thirty frame and brick structures. Following removal of the Brule to the Rosebud Agency in South Dakota, activity declined and Camp Sheridan was abandoned by the army in 1880.

  Antioch Potash Plants, pdf [SH00-002] Listed 1979/05/16

Prior to World War I, the United States was importing nearly a million tons of potash annually from Germany for use as fertilizer. Following the outbreak of war potash prices rose due to a halt in the flow of imports. Several companies were chartered to extract potash from domestic alkali lakes in the Sand Hills. The ruins of the Antioch potash plants survive as reminders of this short-lived boom industry.

By 1918 five companies were in operation to extract potash by evaporating lake water and collecting the potash-rich residue. Major plant components included: solar-or-wind powered tower evaporators, concrete reservoirs, large steel steam evaporators, dryers, crushers, warehouses, railroad trestles, and a variety of shops and houses to provide for the needs of employees. By early 1920 Germany was once more selling potash to the United States for about one-half the cost of the domestic product. By the end of the year all Nebraska potash plants were closed and they never reopened.

 Spade Ranch, pdf [SH00-030] Listed 1980/02/28

Spade Ranch is located in the Sand Hills of northwestern Nebraska on a tract of land in Sheridan and Cherry counties in the vicinity of Ellsworth. The ranch includes numerous buildings and structures, including the log cookhouse built in 1879; bunkhouses that were used by the hired hands; the 1889 horse barn; calving sheds; breaking pens; and various corral areas. Bartlett Richards purchased the Spade Ranch from Bennett Irwin in 1888. Richards and Will Comstock, also involved in many of the ranch's affairs, were instrumental in recognizing the importance of the Sand Hills as grazing land. Because of Richards' conviction for illegal fencing of public lands and because of his untimely death while serving a jail sentence, the vast Spade "empire" has become a legend in the history of cattle ranching in the Great Plains.

 Colclesser Bridge, pdf [SH00-042] Listed 19920629

When a massive ice jam carried away the existing bridge over the Loup River south of Columbus in 1886, the Platte County Supervisors immediately began considering a replacement. The following year the county awarded a contract for a bridge consisting of four, 248-foot through trusses. The bridge carried heavy traffic - first as a county road, then the Lincoln Highway and finally on U.S. Highway 30 - until its replacement with another truss, completed in 1933. That August heavy flooding washed out virtually all of the bridges over the Niobrara River in Sheridan County. The Sheridan County Commissioners purchased two of the spans of the Columbus Bridge and erected them to replace damaged structures. Four of the panels were removed from one of the trusses, shortening its span length to 166 feet, and it was erected at the Colclesser crossing, eleven miles south of Rushville.

 Loosveldt Bridge, pdf [SH00-043] Listed 1992/06/29

On August 25, 1933, heavy rains flooded the Niobrara River, washing out all bridges over the river in Sheridan County. The Sheridan County Commissioners declared an emergency and quickly acted to replace the bridges. In November the county solicited bids for reconstruction of the Loosveldt Bridge south of Rushville and applied for Federal Emergency Relief money to defray a portion of the cost for a replacement bridge. The county contracted with General Construction to provide a used span and erect it at the Loosveldt crossing. The 248-foot span was to come from the Columbus Loup River Bridge, which was replaced earlier in 1933 by another structure. General Construction moved the truss to the Looseveldt site and re-assembled it on steel pile bent piers in 1934. The county maintained the Loosveldt Bridge as a county road until 1984, at which time it was sold to the adjacent landowner.

Urban Sites

Spade Ranch Store, pdf [SH04-002] Listed 2010/08/30

In 1898, Bartlett Richards, owner of the nearby Spade Ranch (see separate entry), hired local carpenters to construct a building for a store and the headquarters of Nebraska Land and Feeding Company. Richards also controlled the town's hotel, barn and stockyards and built a house there in 1902. After the foreclosure of the Spade Ranch in 1923, the store was managed and later purchased by Lawrence Graham. Over the years, it served the surrounding community as a store, lumber yard, gas station, post office, and social center. Today, it is Ellsworth's only commercial building, and one of only two buildings still connecting the town to Richards and Spade Ranch.

District #119 North School, pdf [SH04-005] Listed 2010/09/03

Locating rural school buildings in the sparsely populated Sandhills was always challenging. The District #119 North School is a wonderful example of how Sheridan County met this challenge during the mid-20th century. In 1951, local carpenter, Torville Erickson, utilized materials from another school to construct this tiny school building. The building was fixed on two metal skids so it could easily be moved to serve shifting school age populations. It was located on the Bud Wilson Ranch and Munger Ranch, until it was moved to Ellsworth in 1961.

 Lee and Gottliebe Fritz House, pdf [SH05-011] Listed 2003/11/28

Constructed in 1909 the Fritz House is located in Gordon. The significance of the house is derived from its Dutch Colonial Revival design, a rarity in this part of Nebraska. It is also significant for its association with Lee Fritz, a prominent citizen of Sheridan County.

Gourley's Opera House, pdf [SH08-015] Listed 1988/07/06

Located in Rushville, the one-story false front building was constructed by Dave Gourley in 1914. The opera house has a raked floor and retains the original opera chairs. A wooden floor found in the basement was purportedly used for dances and roller skating. The opera house was later used for motion pictures and was known as the Plains Theater.

 Sheridan County Courthouse, pdf [SH08-001] Listed 1990/01/10

Organized in 1885, Sheridan County named Rushville as its county seat in 1888. The county initially rented office space. In February 1904 the county board received a petition calling for a special tax to build a courthouse. Sheridan County officials built as costly and elaborate a courthouse as they could afford; it was completed in 1904.


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Last updated 20 July 2011

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