Lodgepole, Nebraska

Lodgepole Opera House today

The village of Lodgepole has a long association with transcontinental transportation history. Early on, the area hosted the “Pole Creek No.2 Pony Express Station”. The Union Pacific Railroad came through in 1867 and the community was formally founded.

Pony Express historian Joe Nardone donated this vehicle to the Lodgepole Depot Museum. It traveled 761,327 miles to document Pony Express history.

Pony Express historian Joe Nardone donated this vehicle to the Lodgepole Depot Museum. It traveled 761,327 miles to document Pony Express history.

Pony Express historian Joe Nardone donated this vehicle to the Lodgepole Depot Museum. It traveled 761,327 miles to document Pony Express history.

Lodgepole’s main street moved three different times in the early years, and the route of the Lincoln Highway through town crosses the railroad tracks,

Replica concrete marker in the Lodgepole City Park.

Replica concrete marker in the Lodgepole City Park.

Replica concrete marker in the Lodgepole City Park.

Continuing on the south side of the tracks through town and on county roads. Still standing on the south side are an early grocery store with its accompanying ice house,

Lodgepole Opera House today

Lodgepole Opera House today

Lodgepole Opera House today.

Lodgepole Opera House in History

Lodgepole Opera House in History

Lodgepole Opera House in History.

and of course, the iconic Lincoln Highway landmark Lodgepole Opera House. Note the sign on the side of the Opera House in the historic photo – the ghost of this sign can still be seen.

Tourist Cabins today

Tourist Cabins today

Tourist Cabins today.

Tourist Cabins during the blizzard of 1949

Tourist Cabins during the blizzard of 1949

Tourist Cabins during the blizzard of 1949.

Along Highway 30 can be seen the relics of bygone era tourist cabins.

Lodgepole Depot Museum

Lodgepole Depot Museum

Lodgepole Depot Museum.

Lodgepole Depot in history

Lodgepole Depot in history

Lodgepole Depot in history.

The Lodgepole Depot Museum is filled with early pioneer memorabilia, and the Pony Express Annex houses items donated by Joe Nardone, Pony Express historian who is responsible for the mapping of the entire route and erection of historical markers at the sites of stations.

Lodgepole Depot living quarters

Lodgepole Depot living quarters

Lodgepole Depot living quarters.

An unusual feature of the Lodgepole Union Pacific Depot is that it included living quarters for the station master.

Historic Kripal Garage today

Historic Kripal Garage today

Historic Kripal Garage today.

Kripal Garage in history

Kripal Garage in history

Kripal Garage in history.

The historic Kripal Garage, though privately owned by a classic car enthusiast, is a favorite stop for Lincoln Highway travelers. It is filled with memorabilia dating back to the heyday of the historic road, and brings back nostalgic memories of full service gas stations and main street America car dealerships.

Lodgepole Light and Water, and Village offices

Lodgepole Light and Water, and Village offices

Lodgepole Light and Water, and Village offices.

Historic Light and Water building

Historic Light and Water building

Historic Light and Water building.

The modern Nancy Fawcett Memorial Library hosted the noon business meeting of the Byway Board of Directors, and the Lodgepole Community Hall, a refurbished Legion Hall, was the site of the evening informational meeting. A dozen local residents attended the evening meeting to hear about the history of the Lincoln Highway and the efforts of the Byway to preserve and promote the historic route.

For more photos of Lodgepole, please visit our Facebook page.

On the Road to Lodgepole

It was a beautiful fall day (that turned into a winter storm the next day) for a road trip from North Platte to Lodgepole for the Nebraska Lincoln Highway Historic Byway Board of Directors meeting in mid-November. There are so many iconic sights along the highway, this photo album doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Traveling the Lincoln Highway from North Platte to Lodgepole takes just over two hours, according to Google maps. But when you’re interested in seeing all of the sights along the way, it can take considerably longer. Travelers could easily spend a day in each little town along the Byway, seeking out all of the unique architecture, relics of the Lincoln Highway and the unique ways that small towns are keeping themselves alive and serving their residents.

The Village of Hershey has recently installed a reproduction concrete marker in their city park that abuts the Lincoln Highway.
Hershey SM

Just east of Sutherland you’ll see an unusual sight – Buffalo, apparently guarding a shipping container storage site.
Sutherland Buffalo SM

In Sutherland the community restored a Lincoln Highway era service station and installed a public art project.
Sutherland SM
The tiny village of Paxton, in addition to being the home of the famous watering holes of Ole’s Big Game Lounge and the Windy Gap now has a country store
Paxton Meats and More SM
and has restored their historic railroad depot into a coffee and gift shop.

Paxton Depot SM

The famous cow town of Ogallala boasts Front Street on Highway 30
Front Street 1 SM

and the refurbished Spruce Street Station along the original 1913 Lincoln Highway alignment through town.
Spruce Street Station SM

You know you’re traveling in the footsteps of the pioneers of the great western migration when you pass the historical marker for the famed California Hill.
California Hill SM

Big Springs is justifiably proud of their pioneer heritage as can be seen in the restoration of the Phelps Hotel
Big Springs Phelps Hotel. SMjpg

and the historical markers in their city park.
Big Springs History SM

There is so much more to see along the Lincoln Highway, and these few photographs have only scratched the surface of a very short stretch. When making a trip along the Byway, slow down and take the time to explore the quaint, and sometimes quirky, little towns along the road. Get up late and have breakfast in a local eatery, take a leisurely lunch – maybe a picnic in a park, and stop early so you have a chance to explore the community.
Along the Lincoln, the journey is the destination!

 

Sutherland

Sutherland is a little blip of a town just west of North Platte, but there are two excellent reasons to make sure you slow down or stop as you’re passing through.  One is the old Burma Shave style road signs that have been put up on the side of a building right there on Lincoln Highway.  These are classic pieces of both Americana and advertising history which, come to think of it, are often the same thing.  The other reason is that there is an original gas station on the western end of town and, unlike many of them, it has a fresh coat of paint and is right next to a mural commemorating the Lincoln Highway.

It’ll only take a few minutes but make sure you don’t just blow through Sutherland, there’s also a charming park just off of the highway where you can take a break from the road if you need to.

Ole’s

Ole’s Big Game Bar & Grill, aka Hemingway’s heaven, aka PETA’s hell, aka the place with all the animals.  There are lots of ways you could refer to or describe Ole’s to an outsider, someone who’s never been there.  The best thing to do however is to take that person to Ole’s, even if that person is yourself.

If you’re looking for big pieces of meat, cold beers, a unique setting and a dash of history with a side of folklore, then Ole’s has exactly what you need.

Ole’s serves big pieces of meat from different species in various cuts, cooked how you want and served how you like.  That said, all of the options can be a bit overwhelming and if you’re a first time visitor you absolutely cannot go wrong with the Buffalo Burger.  It’s uniformly praised as just what the doctor ordered to bring joy, togetherness and a full tummy to any traveler passing through.

If you’re looking for a unique atmosphere Ole’s has that too.  The walls are lined with the trophies of a long and prolific hunting career of the founder.  There are over 200 mounts that are the result of hunting trips that covered the entire world, including a polar bear, an elephant, and absolutely anything with antlers.  This is not a place for vegetarians.  It is a great place for kids though.  They can see all the different animals and wandering around while you wait for your food is allowed.

Like any fine community institution, Ole’s has history and, unlike your local rotary club, Ole’s history is colorful.  Ole’s opened for business the minute that prohibition ended in 1933 at precisely 12:01 am August 9th, and the townsfolk rejoiced.  The walnut bar itself is a has a bit of folklore behind it; the story goes that it was given to Ole as payment for helping the Julesburg, Colorado baseball team beat rival Holyoke.

For decades Ole’s was the home base for numerous hunters and outdoorsmen who travelled to Keith County every year.  Now it’s a regular stop for travelers looking to get off the road and have a meal, in many cases a stop they make every time they travel through western Nebraska.

Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area

For those of you interested in camping or other outdoor activities along the Lincoln Highway, there is a great spot just 10 miles west of Kimball in the Nebraska Panhandle.  Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area is a wonderful option for those looking to get off of the road and stretch their legs or anyone who is looking for some fun in the water without the massive crowds that are usually found at Lake McConaughy during the summer.  Oliver Reservoir is situated on 917 acres of land with a 270 acre, two-level lake that is open to boating, fishing, swimming and other water sports.

There are three entrances to the Rec area off of the Lincoln Highway, there are 75 pad sites and 100 non-pad camping sites as well as 130 picnic tables, 142 grills and two shelters with electricity.  So no matter whether you’re stopping for an afternoon or a weekend there should always be a spot for you.  A designated swimming area on the north side of the lake give you an option of cooling off during the summer heat and two boat ramps give you easy access for more aquatic fun.

Oliver provides a nice mix of fishing opportunities due to the fact that it’s a two-story lake capable of supporting both cold and warm water fish species.  You can generally find Walleye, Yellow Perch, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, Bluegill, and limited numbers of Rainbow Trout.

If you’re looking for outdoor fun in on the Lincoln Highway out by the western edge of Nebraska Oliver Reservoir is just the place you’re looking for.

Dude’s Steakhouse

If you’re looking for a place to stop and eat or have a beer in Sidney, Nebraska then stay on Highway 30 until you see the bull on the sign.  This is your sign to stop at Dude’s Steakhouse & Brandin’ Iron Bar.  This steakhouse has been family owned since 1952 and has been a Sidney fixture ever since.  They serve all manner of gigantic pieces of beef and a wide range of seafood as well as all of your favorites like burgers, salads and sandwiches.

 The Brandin’ Iron Bar at Dude’s is one of Sidney’s local hotspots for nightlife.  If you’re spending the night in town and are looking to knock a few back, take a twirl on the dance floor or just have a nice night after a day on the road, it’s the place you’re looking for.

So to review; giant pieces of Nebraska raised beef, everything else you could want from a steakhouse, drinks and dancing at night, all right on the Lincoln Highway.  When you’re in Sidney you need to stop at Dude’s.  Just look for the bull.

Bergie’s

If you’re looking to take a break from the road in Chappell, Nebraska then head over to Bergie’s.  This restaurant/bar/bowling alley is the perfect place to waste some time in western Nebraska.  They open at 9am every day but Sunday and serve a limited breakfast menu.  For lunch they have all of your favorites but I recommend the bacon grilled cheese.  I’m sure all of their other options are great as well but bacon in a grilled cheese is the pure delicious stuff of a truly evil genius.

After 12 pm they start serving beer and have a decent selection of options.  If you’re looking to kill more time than just a meal or are looking to get out of the hot afternoon sun you should probably bowl a game or two.  Their bowling prices are absurdly cheap and shoe rental is $.80.  That is not a typo, shoe rental for bowling is 80 cents.  The best part of bowling at Bergie’s is that it’s truly an old style bowling alley down to the score keeping.  That’s right, you’re using a pencil and a scorecard. There are no fancy computers or TV screens broadcasting to the world your ineptness at knocking down pins with a heavy ball.

The staff is friendly, the food comes out quickly, and it’s less than a block from the Lincoln Highway.  Get out of the car, have a meal and loosen up to throw a few frames.  You’ll be glad you took a pit stop in Chappell and went to Bergie’s.

Bergie’s Website