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Nebraska...Our Towns

CRESTON -- PLATTE COUNTY

The 210 residents of Creston, in northern Platte County, may be surprised to learn that their town was named for a woman. In 1876 -- long before the equal rights movement -- Ida Creston rode on horseback from the Boheet postal station southeast of Columbus to Arlington Township with the mail. That year the settlement's name was changed from "Arlington" (already the name of a post office in Otoe County) to "Creston."

The railroad, a branch of the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley, arrived in 1886, providing both passenger and freight service. It also gave impetus to the establishment of nearly 40 businesses in subsequent years. Comprised largely of German immigrants, Creston incorporated in 1890.

The early churches were established by Presbyterians, Methodists, and United Brethren. Today there are two congregations, Baptist and Lutheran.

In 1901 businesses on north side of main street were destroyed by a fire originating in Ely's harness shop. Only the drug store and saloon rebuilt.

The school was created long before the town's incorporation. The first schoolhouse, located near the depot, flooded in a cloudburst in 1882. All the children were rescued, but with great difficulty. That summer, the school was moved to higher ground near the old mill, and in 1886 a new building was constructed.

During the blizzard of 1888, with visibility nearly zero, it is said that townspeople followed the railroad track to the old mill to reach the school. Then, following the sound of the locomotive whistle, blowing continually, they brought the children safely back into town. No lives were lost.

In 1893 a high school was added. In May 1967, after much deliberation, that portion of the school was closed. A K-8 elementary remains today in a portion of a gymnasium built in 1958 after fire destroyed the old hall used for school activities.

It was in 1917 that the town's doctor, worried about children swimming in dirty creek waters, initiated plans to build a swimming pool. Combined efforts of many townspeople helped construct the facility, thought to be the oldest pool in the state, still in use today. Community pride and spirit was evident again in 1983 when the facility was condemned by the state. Residents crusaded to save the pool, and in a short time, the funds were raised -- with no form of government aid -- for a filter system and other improvements. The pool remains a center of summer recreation for children and adults from miles around.

Situated in the park near the pool is a monument, erected in 1946, to honor veterans serving in wars and peacetime. Veterans from many wars participate in the annual Memorial Day services, attended by both local and former residents who "come home" for the occasion. Creston's service that featured Paul Gorman, Harry Palmateer, and Joe Hanak, veterans of World War I, was featured during a Lincoln-based television news broadcast several years ago.

Another popular annual event in Creston is the opening day of pheasant season. Meals, provided largely by donations, and served by local volunteers, are enjoyed by all. Proceeds from this activity support such things as the rescue unit, organized in 1971. The need for this unit was especially evident when, during the open house to display the newly purchased van, the first emergency call was received. The unit is well-equipped, well-staffed, and a source of pride of townspeople, who are 20 miles from the nearest medical facility.

Area residents fought to keep railroad service, but Creston's depot, along with others on the line, was closed in 1961, having served the area for 75 years. In contrast to the older buildings on main street, the first business is now in the newest building, a new post office, completed in 1988.

Creston's centennial, June 29-July 1, 1990, began with a trail ride into town by area horsemen. During the celebration, the memory of native son John Boning, formerly an engineer who worked with NASA and other space agencies in the development of the Titan missile and Atlantis space shuttle, was honored. Officials had requested that mementoes be placed aboard an Atlantis flight in outer space as a tribute to him. A centennial keychain was then presented to the town by his family during opening ceremonies of the celebration. A well-attended alumni banquet concluded the festivities.

By M.K. Bachman, Rte 2, Box 112, Creston, NE 68631

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Creston Centennial History, 1890-1990 , published by Midgard Press, Lincoln.