"Cody Siding" was established after the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad was completed to Promontory, Utah, in 1869. O'Fallon's Bluffs (a road ranche, and a military post near by during the mid 1860s) was located just across the South Platte River. This area, on the main overland trail, had been used by hunters, fur traders, wagon trains, and pony express riders, so it was a well-traveled corridor.
The frontier appealed to young, adventurous fellows, and soon the area filled with homesteaders, miners from Wisconsin, and railroaders. They hauled beef to the reservations in South Dakota, carried mail to ranchers in the sandhills, and worked their own land. The country was growing and everybody wanted "a piece of the action."
Many settlers came with little more than the clothes on their backs. It is said that W.A. Paxton arrived with a walking plow, a team of horses, and $.75 in his pocket. After becoming a wealthy landowner, he told of having lived in a dug-out before he could build a house and get married.
Early settlers included names such as Coates, Coker, Applegate, McNeel, Elfeldt, Yates, McKinstry, White, Shoup, Brown, Danielson, Beatty, Harshfield, Damier, McKay, Holtry, Reed, Humphrey, Bineger, Winkenwerder, Pierson, Burklund, and Campbell. Many of the current residents of Sutherland are descendants of these pioneers who came to the "historical center of mainland USA."
Irrigation came to the valley through the hard work of those who joined together with shovels, teams, and scrapers to dig the canals and ditches. The Emerson Seed Company contracted for seed crops which they processed in sod barns three miles north of town for national distribution. With a dependable source of water, there were many truck farmers, and a number of large orchards.
While the settlement was quite well established, a "real town" was not platted by the railroad until 1891. Named for George Sutherland, a railroad official, it was an ambitious project with a six-block business district, and lots for homes, schools, and churches (the Methodist Episcopal church already being established in 1886). The remaining space was divided into five-to-ten acre tracts so homeowners could have a garden, cow, chickens, and a few hogs. A post office was established in 1892 and the Presbyterian Church the next year.
The Village of Sutherland was incorporated in 1905. Through the years, residents have taken pride in keeping up with the times, and looking after the welfare of neighbors and friends. Sutherland, already on Union Pacific's "mainline" across Nebraska's plains, became an air corridor as well, for coast-to-coast airmail flights in 1924.
Streets were hard-surfaced, and the town installed pure drinking water at an early date. Currently, larger electricial service lines and equipment are being planned, and new switching equipment will soon improve local telephone service. The volunteer fire department and rescue team have well-trained personnel and the latest equipment to handle the emergencies in this area.
Originally a place for the young and courageous, Sutherland has more recently been dubbed "an old peoples' town," where the senior members of local farm families retire after turning the operation of their land over to sons and daughters. More than half the residents are over 65, the majority of which owning their own homes. Low income housing and a nursing care unit is available for residents, if needed. Senior citizens enjoy a meal center, and volunteering where needed at either the center, church, or looking after those who need help.
The social and civic aspects of the past remain. There are still some big fish in the Sutherland Reservoir, and the area is a duck hunter's paradise. Geese, pheasants, and grouse still demand the skills of the dedicated hunter. Trapping on the Platte provides additional income for those willing to "work the territory."
July 1988 marked the longest running annual amateur rodeo in Nebraska, held in Sutherland each year. For 50 years, greenhorn riders have been pitted against good livestock in the traditional contests of strength, skill, and luck. Good old country music can be heard at the dance that concludes the day.
The UP mainline and Highway 30 continue to run through the middle of town, and Interstate 80 now closely parallels that route. Sutherland boasts of being the "biggest little town on America's main street," and says to all, "Come on in, we aren't strangers, just home folks."
By Lois C.Alden, Box 37, Sutherland, NE 69165