Three men named "Sam" were instrumental in the early development of the town of Eagle:
-- Sam Prouty, an early settler to the region, took aim and shot an eagle from the sky. Proud of this trophy, he chose "Eagle" for the name of the post office, which he established in his home on November 5, 1869.
-- Sam McClintic sold land to the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1886 as construction began on the branch line from Weeping Water to Lincoln. He turned down the idea that the town be called "McClintic" in his honor, suggesting that they use the name of the nearby post office, "Eagle," instead. The plat was dedicated on July 1, 1886, and regular runs of the Missouri Pacific began a few months later.
-- Sam English came to Eagle during its first year and opened a general store that became the focal point of the community. From 1890-99 he also edited the local newspaper, the "Eagle Eaglet."
In the beginning, the prosperity of the town hinged entirely on the railroad, with all goods brought in and shipped out by rail. Passenger trains transported people to points east and west, and were used extensively because they were not only affordable, but much faster than a horse and buggy.
As time went on, the automobile, thought at first to be only a richman's toy, changed all that. Roads were improved, allowing people to travel whenever and wherever they wanted. As railroads became less attractive to shippers, large freight and grain trucks took over much of the traffic. Many railroads have been abandoned and their tracks removed. The railroad that brought Eagle into being met that fate. The route is being developed as an exercise path known as the "MoPac Trail," which will extend from Lincoln through Eagle to Elmwood.
Entrepreneurs Henry and George Trunkenbolz set up the first telephone line, putting up poles with two by four's bolted to the tops, on which they strung wire. The Eagle Telephone Company was organized in 1901 and it served the area for many years. George Trunkenbolz established a light company in 1913 that provided the first electricity for the town. By 1927 the Nebraska Power Company had completed a new light and power system and could deliver power at a cheaper rate. Later the Omaha Public Power District took over operations.
During the early 1900s Eagle could boast numerous businesses, including three general stores, three hardware stores, two dray wagons, two barber shops, two saloons, a lumberyard, a carpenter shop, a livery barn, a harness shop, a hotel, a rooming house, a bakery, a drug store, a print shop, a photograph studio, and a pool hall. There was also a flour mill, two grain elevators, a stockyards, and a creamery.
Located straight east of Lincoln on Highway 34 ("O" Street), village streets were graded and graveled in 1925, when that stretch of road was being improved. It was paved in 1934. Streets were blacktopped in Eagle during the 1960s. Two new housing developments were built in the 1970s: Eagle Heights west of town, and Eagle Lake to the southwest.
In 1974, due largely to the town's proximity to eastward-expanding Lincoln, the Eagle State Bank was established and a new post office building was completed the following year. The population of Eagle increased from just over 600 in 1970 to 832 in 1980. By 1990 Eagle had become the second largest town in Cass County, with a population of 1,008.
There was a Congregational church in Eagle from 1887-1903, and Trinity Lutheran Church from 1890-1960. Current churches include a United Methodist, started in 1889 and Immanuel Lutheran, built in 1990.
One of the first schools in the area was located at Sunlight, three miles east and two miles north of Eagle. Sunlight began as a trading post for overnight stops of freighters between Nebraska City and Lincoln. In addition to the school, Sunlight had two general stores, a church, and a post office.
In 1962 school districts at Alvo and Eagle merged. Four years later, they became part of District 145 at Waverly. Elementary students K-6 attend in Eagle, with secondary students attending in Waverly.
Eagle celebrated its centennial in grand fashion in 1986. Recent developments, including new businesses along main street and a number of new residents, bode well for the future of Eagle.
By Don Hill, Cass County Historical Society, 646 Main Street, Plattsmouth, NE 68048.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: The centennial history of Eagle, 1986.