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Nebraska...Our Towns

City Roller Mills, owned by Joe Woerner, located on Muddy Creek west of Arapahoe.
The Arapahoe Public Mirror newspaper office in 1916
The office today, as Gayle Gill Schutz sits at the word processor while son Alex naps.

ARAPAHOE -- FURNAS COUNTY

Arapahoe, population 1,140, is known as "the town where the hi-ways meet." Located in south central Nebraska, it is at the intersection of Highways 6-34 and Highway 283.

The Arapahoe Indians were honored when their tribal name was given to the first town in Furnas (formerly James) County. The town site was surveyed in 1871 on a tract of land between Elk and Muddy Creeks in the beautiful and productive Republican River Valley. George Love was named postmaster in the spring of 1872.

The town was laid out with a park at its center for activities such as band concerts, Chautauquas and picnics. A swimming pool and solarium were built with WPA (Works Progress Administration) labor during the depression in the 1930's. The tree-shaded park is still the center of activities with swimming, picnics and an occasional band concert enjoyed by many in the good old summertime.

Julia Love was the first teacher in a log structure with crude backless benches. Other buildings later housed the educational facility, with the present brick structures, manicured lawn, and new hard-surfaced track a beehive of activity during the school year.

In 1879 the newspaper "Arapahoe Pioneer" was established, and from 1895 to 1911, two papers were published weekly. One of them, "The Arapahoe Public Mirror," has continued and now has absorbed the newspapers of neighboring Edison and Holbrook.

An early-day fight with Beaver City for the county seat was settled by vote. (Some people suspected arson in a fire north of Arapahoe that kept many voters from the polls.) A more recent try was made to move the courthouse to the middle of Furnas County, locating it across the road from the Mid-County Golf course south of Arapahoe, but did not receive the necessary votes.

The town has seen many changes. The early transportation required livery stables (one aptly named "Hotel d'Hoss") and hotels where hearty meals were served to weary travelers. The arrival of the railroad made traveling much easier, with trains also used for shipping cream, eggs, and produce. Livestock was also moved to market with much less effort. The arrival of the "Tin Lizzie" required improvements of city streets, country roads, and the DLD (Detroit, Lincoln & Denver) Highway through Arapahoe, as well as need for gas stations and garages for repairs.

Finch's Store, a three-story brick structure on Nebraska Avenue, now houses the Furnas County Museum where one can view beautiful dishes, old furniture, tools, and clothing of yesteryear. During the 1971 Arapahoe centennial, a miniature log cabin was built just south of the museum, and words were put to music for Arapahoe's very own centennial song.

The Joseph Einstein Building (the second story having been the opera house) has been remodeled as a meeting place for "Arapahoe Senior Citizens, Inc."

In time of war, many young men of the area served their country in the armed forces, proud to defend their homeland. A grotto visited by many travelers, the "Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima" at St.Germanus Catholic Church, was built by Father Denis, who was a prisoner in a German concentration camp during World War II and later the pastor at Arapahoe.

The livelihood of most area residents is related to agriculture so the community has naturally suffered because of the poor economy. But, as in the past -- during the grasshopper plagues, drought of the 1930's, the flood of 1935 when the Republican River stretched from the foot of the bluffs to the railroad track -- the residents, both rural and urban, pull together to help each other out.

Arapahoe is very much alive and boasts a modern medical clinic, new public library, a low-cost housing project, a nursing home, and over 60 separate business places with friendly merchants.

"Arapahoe Heritage Days," an annual two or three-day celebration over July 4th, welcomes one and all to ball games, swimming, races, quilt show, dances, an ice cream social, a big parade, and fireworks to celebrate our long and varied heritage.

 

by Lelia Haussler, Rte 2 Box 186C, Arapahoe, 68922

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:

Early Arapahoe by John Stevens, published by Cox Printing Co

Arapahoe, NE in 1957

Furnas County History , Arapahoe Chapter, published in 1987