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The Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad line reached Fort Robinson on May 11, 1886. The town of Crawford, platted just east of the military reservation, was established the same year. The Omaha Daily Bee of June 29, 1886, included an account of the booming new town and its excellent prospects (due mainly to its proximity to Fort Robinson) written by Bee correspondent William Edwards Annin of Omaha. Annin, who had been associated with his brother-in-law, Benjamin S. Paddock, as a partner in the post tradership in 1877, had a special interest in Crawford. "The land on which the town is located," Annin wrote in the Bee, "was purchased by the railroad from Messrs. Annin & Smillie, the former now living in Omaha, the latter a clerk at Fort Robinson."

As former owner of part of the Crawford townsite, Annin displayed an almost paternal interest in its growth. "The town," he wrote on June 29 in the Bee, "has already put on the airs of an old settlement. Four thousand dollars worth of lots were sold the first day and the purchasers are now busily at work erecting buildings. Thirty business houses are already on the ground and nearly as many more are said to be on the road coming to locate. A bank, two lumber yards, four general stores, a furniture store, meat market, blacksmith shop, a wheelwright, livery stable, two restaurants, three drug stores, a hardware establishment and flour and feed emporium, with several saloons, were the pioneer business houses. A week hence Messrs. Edgar & Short will print the first number of the first Crawford paper. [The Crawford Crescent did not long survive. Other newspapers replaced it as the town grew.]

"Business has located on Second street, running east and west, and is pushing naturally toward the military reservation. Fort Robinson lies only three and one-half miles distant, and a large trade with its garrison is reasonably expected by the merchants. The purchasers of the lots promptly saw that the nearer they could locate to the military post the better for their business, and much to the surprise of the railroad company rejected property on the main street for the thoroughfare running at right angles to its course. Five weeks from now will see a well built up street, and a bustling town, where three days ago not a house was visible."

(September 2004)


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