Omaha: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publisher, 509-510 Paxton Block 1890. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year of 1890, by M. M. Wolfe & Co, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.
Kearney, the county seat of Buffalo county, is one of the most progressive, wide awake and prosperous cities in the western country. A distinctively American community, it is noted for its vigor and enterprise of its business life and for its highly intellectual and moral status. Its many metropolitan features incline some people to over-estimate the population, a conservative estimate of which would place it at about 8,500. The city is beautifully situated on a broad level plateau 2,150 feet above sea level, insuring a clear, bright atmosphere tempered during the summer with a continual breeze, and is located immediately south of the high ridge separating the valleys of the Platte and Wood rivers, which has afforded the natural opportunity for the establishment of three artificial lakes giving an immense water power, the capacity of which is scarcely disturbed by the various manufacturing plants now being operated by it. The town site embraces undulating bluffs, which afford magnificent residence lots from which is presented picturesque views of the grand plateau of land and the shining waters of the great Platte river. Wide streets crossing each other at right angles are everywhere lined with shade trees natural to the climate, which do not, however, interfere with a comprehensive view of the many superb business blocks, handsome schools and churches and other public buildings, while the residence streets are lined with costly home among which the eastern eye looks in vain for the usual sandwich of poverty. Farther away in the suburbs are seen the tall chimneys of extensive manufacturing plants in operation, or under construction, and which richly demonstrate the beginning of the unusual possibilities of the town which is nearer to the great Wyoming coal fields than any other of its size in the state. The city is lighted by electricity as well as gas. the water supply for consumption is ample and perfectly pure. The water for power purposes is practically unlimited. The sewerage is excellent and the peace, order and cleanliness everywhere observant, demonstrates that in its municipal affairs, as well as in social and commercial matters, Kearney rises at the same usual early hour and steps out for the day with what is locally known as the "Kearney Gait." An electric street railway is in operation, and every other facility and convenience which electric science has made known is here and is liberally patronized. This includes telephones, phonographs, electric house service and private wire lines. Three daily and six weekly papers published here seem, from their prosperity , to be necessary in furnishing the worlds news to the community, while three libraries of public access lend their aid in supplying its intellectual wants. Five schools, including a High School, have been found insufficient for the attendance which increased 50 per cent during 1889, and preliminaries have been concluded for the erections of two more and a large addition to the High School. Eleven church organizations ware well supported and have their homes in handsome edifices. Kearney has in the last year been added to the cities entitled to free postal delivery at street and number. The State Industrial school is located here. Seven banks and numerous investment, loan and building companies conduct the finances of the community. A magnificent opera house with 1,200 seating capacity, is approaching completion, and this together with several minor places of the kind now existing, affords ample facilities for public gatherings and amusement. The various secret and benevolent societies are well represented, and there are a number of local social organizations. Taken altogether, commercially and socially, Kearney may well be proud of its record in rising to its present eminence, considering that but eighteen years ago the first house was built here, and but five yours ago she could number but 4,000 souls. Its future outlook is full of bright promise. It is one of the best advertised cities of the west, and the enterprise and public spirit of the citizens is everywhere recognized.
AGRICULTURAL. -- The Land in Buffalo and adjoining counties is as good as any in the west. The country surrounding Kearney is a beautiful one, well watered, timbered and possessing all the natural advantages that tend to prosperity. The soil being a rich loam, is admirably adapted for farming purposes, although but one-fourth of it is under cultivation. This section of the state is watered by the Platte, Wood, Loup and Republican rivers, and has never suffered from general crop failures. Corn in the leading crop, of course, although wheat, rye, oats, millet, flax and it fact all the principle grains and grasses are grown in abundance. The raising of stock is an important industry in this country. Many fine horses, pure bred and high grade cattle are raised here and shipped to adjoining counties and states. The Buffalo County Agricultural Society, having its headquarters at Kearney, is a very active organization and acts in unison with the large amount of eastern capital invested in land in this section of the state in making Buffalo County fairs very attractive and popular.
RAILROADS. -- Kearney very properly assumes the name of the Midway City, as it is equi-distant from Boston and San Francisco. Its mileage from the Missouri river is 195, the passenger train time being the same either by the Union Pacific or Burlington & Missouri railways from Omaha. The Missouri Pacific is building toward Kearney and is now running to Prosser, 25 miles distant, and will shortly give Kearney direct connection with the agricultural and lumber fields of the South. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and the Chicago & North Western railways are building in this direction with Kearney as one of their main objective points on their way to the Rocky Mountains and the far West. Another road, which is, so far as can be ascertained at present, a purely local enterprise, backed by local capital, is the Kearney & Black Hills railway, which was build by the Wood River Improvement Company. It is graded to Callaway. The iron rails are now being received and the road will soon be in operation. It will make a large territory tributary to this city and will be of easy access to the rich iron, coal, oil and timber fields of Wyoming. Among the contemplated railroads which have originated in Kearney are the Kearney, Hutchinson and Gulf, and the Kearney and Bismarck railway companies. Both have been organized and have made extensive surveys, and it is save to predict that, between them, a north and south line from Dakota to the Gulf coast will ere long be in operation with its headquarters here. The B. & M. and the U. P. Ry. have ample yard facilities and engine houses here and contracts have been made for the erection of a large stone union depot by the Union Pacific road to accommodate itself and the Kearney & Black Hills railway, which will front on the main street. Kearney is the city of western Nebraska, and its multiple railway facilities mean much in the future.
MANUFACTURING -- Kearney is about 200 miles west from Omaha, with a stretch of 400 before the western line of the state is reached. There is nothing west of it in the state that at present affords any manufacturing facilities, and no point eastward can offer better advantages for prospective plants. There are now here several brickworks, a planing and woodworking mill, foundry and machine ship, canning factory, stone works, flouring mill, cracker factory and a number of other minor industries, all in successful operation. A paper mill has been erected, a cotton factory is under way and at present writing a large glucose factory stands a most excellent show of being established here as the most feasible project that has been presented for approval. A number of other manufacturing plants are under consideration, but have not yet approached that point to definitely declare themselves.
WATER POWER -- Kearneys great water power is a fact that places it pre-eminently before any other city in this state as a manufacturing point. It is the one thing which makes Kearneys claim to attention in this respect exceptional. It had its inception in the discovery of the fact that the broad Platte river, traversing the state, passing by Kearney, had an underneath and powerful current which could at all times be relied upon. This was ascertained by geologists and practical tests. To get a water power it was necessary to tap the river at a proper grade and conduct the supply to the elevation between the Platte and Wood rivers which is situated immediately north of the city. This was done and at Elm Creek, sixteen miles west, the water was obtained and led along the natural elevation which divides the valleys. A canal was dredged and the water stored in a series of three lakes from either of which it can be turned over falls sixty feet into the river again. The capacity of these lakes can be increased indefinitely and at present the practical use made of this vast storage of force by the various manufacturing establishments of this city is scarcely felt by it. The immense volume of one lake is tapped to a small degree in conduction power to the electric power house, the capacity of which, as already existing, is but touched upon by the factories now here in operation. Too much cannot be said to the facilities and opportunities Kearney possesses as a manufacturing center. It is a railway focal point now, many new companies having it for an objective point. It is the furthest west of any large city in the state, and this fact means that the vast coal fields of Wyoming can naturally lay their products here cheaply.
ELECTRICITY -- There is more interest manifested and capital invested in electrical science in Kearney than in any other point in Nebraska or surrounding states. The Kearney Electric Company is supplies with power from the Kearney canal. The power station, recently build, is equipped with dynamos of the Edison and the Thomson-Houston systems. The electric power is transmitted to factories in all parts of the city in units up to several hundred horse-power, and is used for all purposes where power is required. By it light work, such as the running of elevators, printing presses and lighter forces required in factories, is furnished. Arc lamps for lighting of streets are used and several thousand incandescent lamps for lighting of public buildings, business houses and residences. Electric house service is more in vogue here than in many eastern cities of several times its size. The Central Nebraska Phonograph Company has its headquarters here, and many of these instruments are in use here for business purposes. It is needless to say that the telephone is almost everywhere and constantly used in this community.
COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL -- The wholesale business of Kearney is beginning to keep pace with the remarkable growth of the city. The larger half of the state lying west of it is rapidly growing and Kearney should have no competitor in that field as a distributing point. The merchants, both wholesale and retail, are entensive dealers, and trade is drawn from long distances.
FINANCIAL -- The Kearney banks, investment companies, loan companies and other corporations dealing with the finances of the community are too numerous to be particularized here. Full information regarding them will be found in the following list of business houses and concerns in alphabetical order. Suffice it to say that there is an immense volume of eastern capital which is actively represented here, supplemented by a large European monetary interest. The local representatives of this capital are , in the main, young men full of push, energy and enterprise, and their principal competitors are local capitalists full of the same vim and vigor.
NEW BUILDINGS -- Among the principal buildings recently erected or being complete are the new Buffalo county court house, the cost of which furnished is $100,000, the new city hall, costing $30,000, the magnificent new opera house block, a six-story stone edifice, costing $100,000, the First National Bank building, the new Union depot, the City National Bank building, Kearney electric light and power house, Kerarney packing house, Midway Loan and Trust Cos building and several churches.
HOTELS -- The Brunswick on Central avenue, a block from the depots, and the Windsor, the same distance from depots on Avenue A, and the Midway, recently destroyed by fire, but to be immediately rebuilt are the leading hotels. They afford every convenience and comfort and are general favorites with commercial men.
CHURCHES -- Following are the churches of Kearney: St. Lukes Episcopal, United Presbyterian, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, First Methodist Episcopal, South Kearney M. E., Trinity M. E., Congregational, Christian and St. James Catholic.
SOCIETIES -- Masonic: Robert Morris Lodge No. 46, A. F. & A. M., Kearney Chapter No. 23, R. A. M., Mt. Hebron Commandery No. 12, K. T., Damascus Lodge Perfection No. 7, A. N. A. S. R. and Tuscan Lodge No. --- O.E.S. Odd Fellows: Buffalo Lodge No. 3, Kearney Encampment No. 15, Excelsior Canton No. 3 and Naomi Rebekah Degree Lodge No. 12. K. P.: Royal Lodge No. 122, Gem Lodge No. 14 and Mona Division No. 4 U. R. A. O. U. W.: Forman Lodge No. 12 and Kearney Lodge No. 170. G. A. R.: Sedgwick Post No. 1, Smith Garitt Post No. 209, W. R. C. No. 1 and Gen. J. B. McPherson Camp No. 51 S. of V. Miscellaneous: Kearney Assembly No. 4748 K. of L., Victor Lodge No. 29 I. O. G. T., Hope Camp No. 316 M. W. A., Kearney Tobaggan Club, Kearney Boating Society, Kearney La Crosse Club, Kearney Musical Society, Kearney Military Band, Buffalo Medical Society, W. C. T. U., O. D. Club, Buffalo County Bible Society, Bachelors Protective Union, Young Mens Christian Association and the Ladies Auxillary of the same.
NEWSPAPERS -- Dailies: Kearney Journal, morning; Enterprise, morning, and The Hub, evening. Weeklies: Kearney New Era, Buffalo County Journal; Courier, Enterprise, Hub, and Democrat.
CITY OFFICIALS -- N.A.Baker, Mayor; T.N. Hartzell, city clerk; E.C. Calkins, city attorney; O.P. Pearson, city treasurer; E.N.Porterfield, city engineer; W.R. Learn, police judge; L.L. Ketchem, city marshal; John Wilson, chief fire department; J.T.Morey, superintendent public schools.