Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sidney in Cheyenne County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Hickory Square

 
 
Early Day Cheyenne County Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
1. Early Day Cheyenne County Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
Inscription. Eight plaques mounted on a single monument are located at Hickory Square. The plaques are presented left to right.

Early Day Cheyenne County

The history of Nebraska and Cheyenne County correlate to the push westward of the transcontinental railroad in 1867. During the county’s earlier evolution, Frontier Trails connecting to the Oregon, Mormon, Overland, Emigrant Road, Pole Creek Crossing and Texas Cattle were pounded into its soul by thousands of wagon wheels. It was home to fierce native-American battles, and open prairie cattle industry, the Pony Express and a few trading posts. Named for the proud native-Americans that inhabited the area, Cheyenne County was 70 miles wide and 108 miles long, covering the south had of the Nebraska Panhandle 7,460 square miles and 4,838,400 acres. The north half of the Panhandle was unorganized territory, but was attached to Cheyenne County for judicial and legal transactions. Sidney was deemed the territorial capitol and county seat for the entire 15,120 square mile area. Later as more settlers came west and populations grew, 11 counties were carved out of the old Cheyenne County beginning in 1885.

Fort Sidney 1867-1874

To protect the Union Pacific builders, a federal order on April 29, 1867 stationed a company of
Fort Sidney 1867-1874 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
2. Fort Sidney 1867-1874 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
soldiers along the Lodge Pole Creek, 56 miles west of Fort Sedgwick. Nebraska had been legally created March 1, 1867. At the top of the hill (look straight north) the new Army Post was established with a tent camp and a blockhouse (Camp Lookout). Named for Sidney Dillon, a UP division head, who later became UP President, the outpost became known as “Sidney Barracks” and later “Fort Sidney”, operating for 27 years until 1894. It was relocated near the creak south of the tracks in 1871, originality with 13 structures eventually expanding to 51. The restored Post Commander’s Home, Officers Quarters, (county museum) and Powder House are short distance away at 6th and 7th Avenues. Many famous Pow Wows between Native-American Chiefs and famed U.S. Generals occurred at Fort Sidney.

Sidney-Deadwood Trail 1874-1883

The first freighting routes here were established in the early 1800’s, but Sidney is most famous for its fascinating and colorful role during the 1874-1883 period when it was the famed 267-mile route of the Sidney-Deadwood Trail, also known as the Sidney-Black Hills Trail when gold was discovered in the Dakota Territory. Sidney won over a battle with Cheyenne, North Platte and Kearney as the most direct trade route, especially after 1876 when Sidney businessman H.T. Clarke built a 2,000 foot toll bridge over the
Sidney-Deadwood Trail 1874-1883 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
3. Sidney-Deadwood Trail 1874-1883 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
raging mile wide North Platte River establishing Camp Clarke near modern day Bridgeport. The famed trail (still visible northwest of here) carried over 100 million pounds of registered freight with return fold shipments coming back to Sidney. The largest gold bullion robbery in U.S. history occurred near this site at the UP Freight House on March 10, 1880. No one was ever convicted. Some gold is still missing. Sidney’s lawless reign escalated into a 64 businessmen led vigilante crusade on April 1-4, 1881 when 16 outlaws were rounded up to be hung on the courthouse tree. An official NOTICE was posted and published to “Get Out of Sidney” to all other “murderers, thieves, pimps and slick-fingered gentlemen.”

”Sinful Sidney”, Scourge of the “Old West” 1871-1888

Known by such monikers dubbed by the eastern press as “Sinful Sidney”, “The Wickedest Burgh of the West”, “Toughest Town on the Tracks”, “The Hardest Hole” and even the “Magic City on the Plains” - booming 24-hour Sidney made national headlines frequently. The national press’ fascination and frequent front page page headlines about Sidney were fueled by lawlessness, “Old West” legends, corruption, frequent hangings (at this site) and its spirited nasty battle with Cheyenne,
”Sinful Sidney”, Scourge of the “Old West” 1871-1888 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
4. ”Sinful Sidney”, Scourge of the “Old West” 1871-1888 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
Wyoming over the preferred gold route. The actual events surpassed anything Hollywood could generate today. The news accounts, court records and historical documents are captured in Loren Avey’s book “Lynching’s, Legends and Lawlessness”, (at local book store). Over 80 licensed saloons, gaming halls and brothels were located on historic Front Street. Over 1,000 criminal cases and 56 known murders or attempted murders were prosecuted from 1876-1881. The “Bad Man’s Cemetery” - Sidney’s Boot Hill - has been restored and can be seen in northeast Sidney.

Homestead Act 1862 and Kincaid Act 1904

These two important acts passed by the United States Congress opened massive acres of the West to settlers in search of land to establish a new life. The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed for claiming 160 acres with five years residency and the Kincaid Act of 1904 sponsored by Nebraska Congressman Moses Kincaid allowed for claim to 640 acres with five years residency. A major territorial land office just one block from here doled out claims to settlers as Sidney reinvented itself as a major farming and ranching trade center from the 1880’s through the 1940’s. Numerous implement dealerships and regional agriculture distributorships opened in Sidney. The community buried its soiled past, wanting to establish itself as a permanent quiet,
Homestead Act 1862 and Kincaid Act 1904 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
5. Homestead Act 1862 and Kincaid Act 1904 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
God-fearing community along the historic Lincoln Highway (located here) and plush Lodge Pole Creek valley, becoming the largest winter wheat producing county in Nebraska and still claiming that title today.

Sioux Ordnance Depot & Oil Boom 1942-1967

Two monumental events would again change the course of Sidney history as America entered World War II. The Sioux Ordnance Depot was commissioned in 1942 by the U.S. Army and Sidney was pinpointed as a strategic location where an entire township (19,771 acres) was condemned and several hundred workers moved to build the massive munitions depot just northwest of here. The manufacturing and storage depot would employee over 2,000 people between 1942-1967. Today it serves as private industrial parks and is home to many industrial companies and jobs. Oil was discovered north of here in 1949 kicking off an oil and gas exploration and production boom of business and jobs that blossomed through three decades and continues to impact today on a smaller scale. Cheyenne County remains one of the largest oil and gas pro ducting counties in the State. The Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission state headquarters is still located here.

Minuteman Missiles 1960’s & I-80
Golden Link 1974

Again because of its strange Midwest location, Cheyenne County became home to 38 Minuteman
Sioux Ordnance Depot & Oil Boom 1942-1967 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
6. Sioux Ordnance Depot & Oil Boom 1942-1967 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
Missile bases as part of the 200 missile complex of Warren Air Force Base. Constructed in the 1960’s, the missiles are still active. Just as Promontory Summit, Utah commemorated the golden spike in 1869 that joined east and west on the transcontinental railroad; a century later, Sidney was the site of the golden link for the completion of Interstate-80 on October 19, 1974 stretching from New York to San Francisco as Americas’s busiest highway. The community was still economically reeling from the jobs and population loss impacted by the Depot closing, end of missile construction, oil depletion, railroad jobs transferred and modernized agriculture practices - so it declined developing the I-80 interchanges. Finally in 1987, the City ran three mile of utilities to Exit 59 opening a new wave of development that continues to add businesses and commercial jobs and capture outside commerce.

Small Town Values, Big Time Opportunities - Sidney Today

A modern day renaissance of the Sidney area has occurred over the pas quarter century. Economic indicators tripled as the community utilized its logistics capabilities of having four major highways, three railroads, modern airport, long term infrastructure improvements and three industrial parks. A formal economic development partnership between the private and public sector, subsequent business development
Minuteman Missiles 1960’s & I-80<br>Golden Link 1974 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
7. Minuteman Missiles 1960’s & I-80
Golden Link 1974 Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
of I-80, and the nurturing of home grown entrepreneurs and recruited industries created an atmosphere embracing community growth. With the “Cabela’s” presence garnering national attention as it grew from the kitchen table in 1961 to the billion dollar world’s foremost outfitter - along with many other successful small companies and manufacturers, Sidney significantly built its job base once again. In 2004, Sidney was named one of “America’s Top 100 Rural Communities” under 50,000 population by national economist Jack Schultz in his book “Boom Town USA.” Its theme “Small Town Values, Big Time Opportunities” truly captures Sidney’s community spirit.
 
Location. 41° 8.755′ N, 102° 58.611′ W. Marker is in Sidney, Nebraska, in Cheyenne County. Marker is at the intersection of Hickory Street and 10th Street, on the left when traveling east on Hickory Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1000 Hickory Street, Sidney NE 69162, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Fort Sidney (approx. 0.4 miles away); Sioux Army Depot (approx. 7.7 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  History of Sidney - Official Sidney Website.
Small Town Values, Big Time Opportunities - Sidney Today Plaque, Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
8. Small Town Values, Big Time Opportunities - Sidney Today Plaque, Hickory Square Marker
The City of Sidney was founded in 1867 by the Union Pacific and named for Sidney Dillon, a railroad attorney. The city grew up around the Sidney Barracks, a military outpost with a primary function of protecting the Union Pacific Railroad track layers against the threat of hostile Indians. (Submitted on September 4, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
 
Categories. Settlements & Settlers
 
Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
9. Hickory Square Marker
Hickory Square Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 23, 2014
10. Hickory Square Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 317 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on September 3, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on September 4, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Paid Advertisement