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Nebraska...Our Towns

Pleasanton

Buffalo County

Once Pleasanton's pride and joy, rail service ended in 1947. The old depo was restored by the town in 1976.
Dave Parkhurst, a commercial trapper who, together with his dogs, worked his lines in Buffalo County, along the Beaver Creek and the Loup rivers. [Nebraska State Historical Society]
Wood cutting the "modern" way with a buzz saw and engine. Postcard dated 2-25-16. [Nebraska State Historical Society]

A new town, located in the east half of Section 35, Loup Township, was platted in April 1890 and named "Pleasanton." It was the terminus station on the Union Pacific Railroad branch line that ran along the north side of the South Loup River.

An earlier settlement at this location was called "Peters' Bridge." A bridge, constructed and operated by the Peters family, was the location of a station on the stage coach and freight line that went north with supplies. A settlement just north and west was called "Pleasant Valley," and a post office located at the Morse Ranch from August 1874 to January 1877 was called "South Loup."

Among the early settlers that arrived during the 1870s were John Sheckler, and the families of Davis, Peters, Hays, Hunter, Leslie, and Clark.

James Hunter became the postmaster for "Riverview," located on the south side of the Loup River near Section 35. This post office was served by John Adams in January 1886, then Felix Hays from December 1889 until it moved to the new town of Pleasanton on April 18, 1890.

On March 1, 1890, the first regular train arrived. There was a great celebration. Many buildings were quickly constructed at the crossroads. Felix Hays moved his general store to Sycamore and Elm Streets, and other businesses came rushing into the new town. Lumber arrived by the carload, and the sound of hammering could be heard nearly around the clock. Some of the stores were located in shacks, tents, and shanties. By June the town was complete, even to a millinery shop and newspaper called "The Pleasanton Gazette."

Approximately 18 miles of grade was completed to the west of the town, but no tracks were ever laid, so Pleasanton remained a terminus station. In the early days this was an advantage since this brought people from a wide area to Pleasanton to get supplies and ship goods.

The schoolhouse for District 105 had been built on the south side of the South Loup River. This location served the town of Pleasanton until 1907 when an ice-jam clogged the river and backed the water up into the school. In 1909 a brick schoolhouse was built on top of the hill, above the flood plain.

Very soon after the town was platted, the first of the many disasters that have befallen the town struck. A "cyclone" suddenly dropped from the clouds above Pleasanton and people ran to the only cave in town, at Grandma Leslie's boarding house.

In 1892 a prairie fire swept in over the hills from the north. The villagers had quite a time trying to save their homes and the buildings. In 1893 campers up the river let their fire get away, and the village again suffered fire damage. In 1894 the post office, located in Hays Store, was robbed. A fire set to cover the theft quickly spread through the row of buildings, many of which were destroyed. Only quick action saved the new washing machine that the Robert Kirschner family had purchased from also going up in flames. Undaunted, the town rebuilt again.

Pleasanton was incorporated in 1894. Forty men -- every voter in town -- signed the petition that Joe Grammer carried before the board of county supervisors.

Besides fires and cyclones, floods rampaged through the town almost every spring. In 1924 a major flood, over two feet in depth, hit the downtown businesses and many homes. Pleasanton was besieged by another major flood in 1947. This time the railroad track washed out and was never rebuilt. Since rail traffic was already declining, this end-of-the-line station was expendable.

Pleasanton had a growing spurt in the 1970s when approximately 40 new homes were built. The trend toward suburban living is credited with bringing many people who worked in Kearney to live in our small town. Pleasanton, approximately 18 miles from the city, was just what they were looking for.

The 1980 census lists the population of Pleasanton at 345. It decreased somewhat when some factories closed in Kearney. But, since Pleasanton is a town that is noted for surviving many adversities, we believe it will be here for many years to come.

The town is already starting to gear up for the Pleasanton centennial to be celebrated in the summer of 1990.

 

By Barbara O'Neill, Box 136, Pleasanton, NE 68866