THAYER COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM
110 9th Street Belvidere NE 68315 402-768-2147
Open Sundays and Wednesdays from 2:00-4:00 or by appointment
10 BUILDINGS ON 8 ACRES OVER 50,000 sq.ft. OF INDOOR DISPLAY AREA
At the intersection of 5th. and C Streets, in Belvidere, can be seen the Williamson Gas Station. This intersection has been called the PRAIRE CROSSROADS for it’s location on many transportation routes.
1. The Williamson Gas Station was built on the Main street of Belvidere.
2. Meridian Highway shared the Main Street. It was named for it’s close proximity to the 6th. Priniciple Meridian making it a common route for surveyors.
3. The Union Pacific dual tracks - previously the St. Joseph and Grand Island R.R., pass east and west at this intersection.
4. The Oregon Trail, some times several miles wide, passed through the Belvidere land.
5. The Forty-Niner Trail was yet another route. Read the text of the local marker below.
6. North and South through Belvidere and just a few hundred feet west of the intersection was the former C B & Q which was the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad and originally the Fairmont and Chester Line.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD
The Union Pacific Railroad is an ABC railroad in the Marysville Subdivision. This ABC railroad began circa 1872. The first four towns of the ABC railroad are in Thayer County and they are each over 145 years old.
Towns along the rail are:
Alexandria, Belvidere, Carleton, Davenport, Edgar, Fairfield, Glenvil, Hastings, Ingleside, Juniata, Kenesaw.
Lowell would have been next in the same direction, but the rail turned southward and went to Heartwell and then Minden.
1. The UNION PACIFIC is the largest track network in the world, made up of over 32,000 miles of track.
2. The trains passing through often have over 100 cars and can be well over a mile long.
3. In 1927 when school children went down to the track to see one of the first trains, the engine was a 1916, and it carried relics of the past, including items related to Abraham Lincoln. “ The Bruning Banner 2/3/1927 “
4. In April 1934 School was let out again to watch a train. This time a new diesel streamliner train, with Alcoa Pullman Cars, slowly passed by a the huge crowd.
5. On May 28th. 2011 nearly 500 people showed up to watch the UP 844 steamer make a 15 minute stop. This time, at the new train watch area, where the train watch station would be built one year later, and two years later, a rail car and depot would be placed as well.
THE FORTY-NINER TRAIL
During the nineteenth century the United States underwent a dramatic westward expansion, but perhaps no single event stimulated this mass migration more than the 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were struck with "the fever." While some chose to sail to California on the famed Clipper Ships, the vast majority of gold seekers journeyed overland from the Missouri River feeder towns of Independence, St. Joseph, and Council Bluffs. Through Nebraska, most travelers followed the established Oregon Trail which also became known as the California or "Forty-Niner" Trail. The Forty-Niner Trail entered Thayer County near Alexandria and followed the Big Sandy Valley where water, wood, and grass was available. After crossing the Big Sandy near Belvidere the trail proceeded in a southwesterly direction to the banks of the Little Blue. After the establishment of Thompson's Station a few miles south of Belvidere the trail followed the Eighteen Mile Ridge across Thayer County. The route was later used by the Pony Express, freighters, overland stage companies and the railroads. The trip to California was long and arduous, with disease, heat, lack of water, and Indian threats the constant dangers. The call to adventure possible riches, or a new home in a new land encouraged these hardy pioneers to make the journey along the Forty-Niner Trail. NE St. Hist. Soc. Marker 235