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Nebraska...Our Towns

Long Pine

Brown County

Star Livery Stable owned by Fred Aten was located on the northwest corner of 5th and Main Street. The sight of the large livery barn, filled with hay, welcomed travelers to the town of Long Pine during its early years.
Long Pine's railroad hotel and depot
Water tower and coal chute. [Long Pine Heritage Society]
Main Street in winter. Hotel and lunch room on the left.
Miller House built in 1895, now Heritage House. Boarding house for railroad crews when they laid over. Below: Pavilion in Hidden Paradise, where big-name bands played and people came from miles around.

Long Pine is located near Pine Creek Canyon in north central Nebraska. This beautiful canyon, covered with large pine and cedar trees that were cut for fuel and lumber by pioneers, winds northward about 25 miles to the Niobrara River.

The first resident was "Dirty Smith," who homesteaded the property now occupied by the Chicago & North Western Railroad. Many cattlemen arrived in the 1870s and included: Rev.Irving Skinner, James Graham, Seth Bates, Mike Kernan, F.E.Stockwell, and the Donaher family. They had to freight supplies by mule or horse from Neligh.

The town had its beginning in about 1876. By 1881, as headquarters for the Berry Brothers Stage and Freight Lines, it was a busy, fast-growing frontier town. Early residents were Carleton Pettijohn, Isaac Mills, Theron Ford, Abe Bailey, Henry Tablor, Dr. Lewis Ford, Charles and Thomas Glover, J.D. Whittemore, Z.B. Cox, and W.H. Magill. Soon Long Pine had all the necessary shops and businesses, and a Methodist church. Indians came to Long Pine for supplies. They brought cedar posts which they exchanged for merchandise.

The railroad reached this area in 1881, Long Pine became a division point, which included a round house, depot with a telegraph station, stockyards, coal shed, and a machine shop. (The water supply was obtained from "Seven Springs" south of town. This unique, natural pure water flow is still the town's water source.) A post office was also established at Long Pine in 1881.

Even when the rails pushed westward the next year, the town continued to grow. The railroad linked the town to civilization as passengers arrived and departed in coaches hooked to the end of the freight train.

In 1884 a petition was granted by the county commissioners to incorporate the village.

Chautauqua grounds were located near the area of the railroad bridge at the west edge of town. This was a once-a-year event lasting up to two weeks. Many people lived in tents while they enjoyed the talks, plays, and services.

For many years, Long Pine was still a fragile outpost in the Wild West. Kid Wade and Doc Middleton, notorious horse thieves in the late 1880s, caused many anxious moments for early settlers. The Upstill Hotel and the Miller House were constructed in the 1890s to house travelers and railroad employees. A large boarding house was also made a part of the depot in the early 1900s

Long Pine school had an enrollment of nearly 300 in the late 1880s. Enrollment dropped to 150 in 1889 during a period of severe drought. The school offered K-12 until 1966 when it became a K-8, with high school students attending in Ainsworth or Bassett. Long Pine Grade School has a current enrollment of 75-80 student with five teachers.

In 1910 "Hidden Paradise Park" started with five cottages. It is still a resort with many cabins, homes, a restaurant-bar, and dance hall. Many of the cabins and homes are now privately owned, but others are available for tourists.

"The Pines", formally called "Tourist Park," has cabins and camping facilities northwest of town. It has always been owned and operated by members of the Jim Kurtz family. Nearby is the beautiful Long Pine State Park which has camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, and tubing. Pine Creek is known for its excellent trout fishing.

Needless to say, Long Pine suffered greatly in the late 1950s when railroad passenger service was discontinued and train service was cut. Soon thereafter the roundhouse, shop, and stockyards were removed, eliminating many jobs. A small depot was built to handle business for the two freight trains each day that currently serve this area.

Long Pine never regained the status of its early days, but it is still a busy little town. Irrigation helped stabilize farming, and the area offers excellent hunting for prairie chicken, grouse, pheasant, wild turkey, and deer.

The town has a number of new homes, and a new post office built in 1987. The community supports four churches, a local volunteer fire department, ambulance service, Legion/VFW club, and a good number of shops and businesses.

Long Pine, on Highway 20, is a town of friendly people who welcome tourists and newcomers to the community.

By the Long Pine Heritage Society. Local coordinator: Wardene Roark, Box 182, Long Pine, NE 69217.

 

Story by Lorene Kernan. Pictures from: Kernan, W.B.Nayler, Lona Gable, Helen Henderson, Wiley Lentz, Esther Bates, Opal Summers, and the Long Pine Heritage Society.