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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Loup City -- Sherman County

North side of Loup City's main street, showing the First National Bank, built in 1912.
Loup City's second flour mill, built 1903, being moved from Dead Horse Creek to location on Main Street near the railroad. This mill burned in 1920.
Located between the two railroad lines, the Ohlsen Brothers Brickyard furnished bricks for many Sherman County buildings between 1887 and 1912 when it was destroyed by fire.
South side of "O" Street, 1922. Loup City State Bank, built in 1907, on far corner.
A 1986 photo looking east on O Street toward Courthouse Square.

The "Skidi" band of Pawnee Indians originally lived in this area. The Pawnee word "skidi" means "wolf." Translated into French, the word becomes "loup," the name given to the large three-pronged watershed in central Nebraska. Soon after Sherman County was organized in 1873, Loup City became the county seat, primarily because of its location in the Middle Loup Valley.

The town was platted by William and Martin Benschoter. Frank Ingram became the first postmaster, and opened a post office and store in April of that year. By the end of the year, Loup City also had a hotel, a newspaper, and a school.

A courthouse built in 1874 was destroyed by fire before it was completed. It was rebuilt, but quickly outgrown. The present courthouse was completed and dedicated in 1921.

Religious services were held in the fall of 1873 at the hotel, the Rosseter House. Until churches could be organized and built, worship services were quite often held in private homes. Today there are five churches, with other Bible fellowship groups meeting in remodeled houses.

The town was incorporated in 1881, and a city waterworks system was established in 1884. The primary value of a good water system is for fire protection. New wells were dug in 1920 and again in 1973. Loup City has an all-volunteer fire department of 35 members and a Rural Fire Protection District.

The Union Pacific Railroad came to Loup City in May 1886, followed by the Burlington in October 1887. This provided daily mail delivery, telegraph service, and competitive rates for freight and passengers.

In those early days, the railroad companies owned over 160,000 acres of land. The sale of these lands brought many immigrants to Sherman County; Polish, Swedish, Danish, German, Bohemian, English, and Scottish.

Modern transportation brought a decline in railroad usage. The last steam locomotive arrived in town in October 1958. The UP discontinued service to Loup City in 1985, and the Burlington line was abandoned in 1986.

The population of Loup City has fluctuated over the years. It became a stopping place for pioneers who were headed for the gold fields in the Black Hills. Many left when times were hard, or because drought or grasshoppers forced them to look for other means of making a livelihood.

In the first half of the Twentieth Century, Loup City prospered. By 1952 there were nearly 100 businesses in town. Through the years Loup City was known for its roller mills, which produced White Satin Flour, the Ohlsen Brickyard, Depew Disc Sharpening Company, a cigar factory, broom factory, and a pop factory. The Youngquist brothers also made Turn-a-Back Rug Racks for linoleum rolls. At present, Loup City has the G & G Manufacturing, plus Cook and Beals, which sells honey-extracting equipment around the world.

Loup City's most famous attraction from 1900 to 1940 was Jenner's Park. People from far and wide came to enjoy its zoo, museum, and entertainment. It is now a city park.

Our most famous native son was Dr. Edmund Jaegar, renowned botanist, naturalist, and biologist. He lived and worked in desert regions for many years and published many books on its wildlife.

The first school in Loup City was built in 1873 with Miss Susie Gilbert as teacher. In 1876 there were 39 pupils. District 1 of Loup City now includes many rural districts plus Ashton and Rockville. There are three school buildings; elementary, middle, and high school, and an attendance center at Ashton.

Loup City has a first-rate hospital and nursing home, a clinic, community center, and a Carnegie library, recently renovated. There is also Westside Park, a low-cost housing project. A senior citizen center serves noon meals.

Loup City saw some violent times during its early years. There was the murder of one of its newspaper editors in 1887, plus a number of incidents involving the Olive Gang and Doc Middleton. In 1934 there was the Courthouse Riot and trial of Mother Bloor.

In contrast was joyous celebration in 1981 of the safe return of a native son, Michael Moeller, who had been held hostage along with other Americans in Iran.

By Vera M. Mason, Box 632, Loup City, NE 68853. Committee includes:Kathy Kurtzhals, Mike and Shirley King. George Peterson, Sherman County Times editor, for pictures, and Sherman County Historical Society for furnishing old photos and having them reproduced.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: History of Sherman County , by Meroe Owens; Litchfield Centennial ; and Rockville Centennial.