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Butte

Boyd County

Butte water tower, 1987
Main street businesses flank the Old Opera House
The ornate building is now the corner bar. The Gazette building is on the right.

Butte, seat of government for Boyd County is 1,815 feet above sea level It is near the center of the county located between the Niobrara River and South Dakota. This region gets approximately 22 inches of moisture a year, of which about seven or eight inches of moisture usually comes as snow.

At the center of Butte's community life are the four churches; a Community Bible Church, Lutheran Church, Catholic Church, and the Full Gospel Church. The Community Bible Church was formed from a merger of the Congregational Church and the Methodist churches in 1935. Butte's residents are primarily of German descent, with a good mixture of Swedish, Russian, Irish, and other nationalities added.

Butte, like many small towns, has had to struggle to keep growing. In addition to county government, there are still about 20 businesses, including a full service bank and a new village-owned cafe, on Thayer, the main street. There is a new flower shop and another 15 business that include a large green house, a farmers' cooperative, a bowling alley, and hobby shop, are scattered around town. Butte also has a firm that builds horse trailers, a sale barn, and a cattle feeding operation. The residential area has well-tended homes and spacious lawns for the 650 citizens who live here.

Butte has its annual community picnic in June. This features a good picnic fare and an afternoon of local entertainment provided by Butte's organizations. A crowd of about 600 is customary.

Another event that draws crowds to Butte is the annual "Pancake Days" celebration. Main Street is filled with rides for the youngsters and concessions line the sides of the street. There is a parade, horse shoe pitching, tractor pulls for young and old, a craft show, local talent, and other games of skill. Hundreds of former residents and students away at college come back for the two days of merry-making. Free pancakes, from which the celebration takes its name, is a feature of the second day.

Butte's school system is a good one. While the enrollment is smaller these days than it was in the 1950s, there were more students enrolled in the fall of 1989 than in the previous year. Butte High offers a full course of study including a foreign language and classes in computer science. Extra-curricular activities include eight-man football, basketball, volleyball, track, vocal and instrumental music, drama, and speech. The first school opened its doors in 1891 with 15 students. The present school was built in 1911 with the addition of a new gym in 1966. In 1957 two upstairs rooms were remodeled to provide a home economics department. Many outstanding alumnae come back for reunions that are held near Memorial Day.

The John Davies family donated their building to Butte in memory of their father in 1961 to be used as a public library. It is managed by a five-member board and is supported by the Butte Study Club and the Friends of the Library.

The editor of "The Butte Gazette" publishes the local news every week from his building on main street. Two regional newspapers also have correspondents down town.

With the assistance of local nurses, medical needs of the community are met by a doctor from the Gregory Professional Association at the Butte Clinic on Mondays, and by one from the Niobrara Valley Hospital of Lynch on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Butte Nursing Home houses 62 residents with a staff of 59.

The county attorney has an office just across the street from the two-story brick courthouse. An annex to the east houses the soil conservation offices and those of the Lower Niobrara Resource District.

A site two and one half miles west of Butte was considered as a possible site for a Low Level Nuclear Waste Facility during the year 1989. A large number of Butte business people, residents, and farmers favored the site because of the economic boost it could give the community. Other towns to the west and east protested its location, however. At this writing, the decision is still pending.

The people of our town value and respect each other, have pride in their village, and look to the future with hope.

By Lavaun Johnson, 520 Jim Street Box 12, Butte, NE 68722

 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Standard Atlas for Boyd County, 1904; Diamond Jubilee 1890-1965 ; 75th Anniversary Jubilee of Boyd County, Nebraska ; History of Boyd County , by Loree Barns; Atlas of Boyd and Keya Paha Counties in Nebraska by Midland Atlas Co; Golden Jubilee of St.Peter and Paul Catholic Church 1904-1954.