John Berry, a surveyor and land-buyer for the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad, was the originator of Johnstown. Berry acquired the land for the town and, on July 27, 1883, he platted the site and named all the streets. He never lived in Johnstown, but went on west with the railroad.Around 1910 Johnstown's population was close to 500, with four blocks of businesses. It was a railroad-shipping town, with many carloads of cattle, hogs, and grain loaded out each year. In 1929 a fire ravaged two blocks of businesses. Next came the closing of the banks, the hard times of the 1930s, and still more fires. Johnstown declined rapidly. In 1944 a shortage of teachers, because of the war, forced the closing of the high school. The old school was condemned and a new school was built in 1961. This building included a hot lunch program and "indoor plumbing." Because there was no city water system, modern plumbing was not common until the late 1950s. In 1936 a group of town and rural citizens organized a county fair, now known as the "Brown County Agricultural Society." During the fair, on the Labor Day weekend, the population of Johnstown swells to over 1,000. Promoted as one of the best fairs in the state, it includes a rodeo, parade, barbecue, country western show, and four large buildings of exhibits.Johnstown's population has been a constant 80 or so for the past 20 years. In addition to the elementary school, church, and post office, there is a bar'n grill, a service station, and a new volunteer fire department building. With the support of the rural community, the spirit of "Johnstown togetherness" still prevails. When something needs doing, people work together until the job is completed.
Brown County Fair grounds, 1988
A bird's eye view of main street around 1900. [Harris]
Main street, photographed in 1988.
Ainsworth is named for Captain James E. Ainsworth, chief construction engineer of the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad, who arrived at the town site in June 1882. Pioneers were pushing west, setting up shops and businesses. Many also filed for homesteads on the free land, claiming 160 acres under provisions that certain improvements as specified by the government be made.The new town had all the ingredients to grow. And it did! By 1885 the town covered nearly 30 blocks, and Main Street was crowded with shops. A two-story red-brick grade school, built in 1884, served three generations in many families before being torn down in 1955. A grey cement high school was built in 1910. These buildings have been replaced over the years by a new high school, the "Learning Center," an auditorium, and a gymnasium.The first courthouse was completed in 1888 and served the county until Easter morning in 1958 when it was destroyed by fire. Most of the records, locked in vaults, were saved. A new Brown County Courthouse was dedicated on June 12, 1960. During World War II, Ainsworth was the site of a 2,496 acre air base that trained crews flying B-17s, P-38s, and P-47s. Over 7,000 persons attended the 1947 National Air Show held in Ainsworth. After the war, the airfield was turned over to the city.
A bird's eye view of Ainsworth in 1885. A Ramsay, Millett & Hudson Lithograph, drawn by August Koch, Kansas City, MO, responsible for many such drawings of our Nebraska towns
Ainsworth High School and Learning Center 1989
Sellors' Memorial Cabin, donated to the city by Elizabeth Sellors Deer.
Long Pine History
Long Pine is located near Pine Creek Canyon in north central Nebraska. This beautiful canyon, covered with large pine and cedar trees that were cut for fuel and lumber by pioneers, winds northward about 25 miles to the Niobrara River. The first resident was "Dirty Smith," who homesteaded the property now occupied by the Chicago & North Western Railroad. Many cattlemen arrived in the 1870s and included: Rev.Irving Skinner, James Graham, Seth Bates, Mike Kernan, F.E.Stockwell, and the Donaher family. They had to freight supplies by mule or horse from Neligh. The town had its beginning in about 1876. By 1881, as headquarters for the Berry Brothers Stage and Freight Lines, it was a busy, fast-growing frontier town. Early residents were Carleton Pettijohn, Isaac Mills, Theron Ford, Abe Bailey, Henry Tablor, Dr. Lewis Ford, Charles and Thomas Glover, J.D. Whittemore, Z.B. Cox, and W.H. Magill. Soon Long Pine had all the necessary shops and businesses, and a Methodist church. Indians came to Long Pine for supplies. They brought cedar posts which they exchanged for merchandise. The railroad reached this area in 1881, Long Pine became a division point, which included a round house, depot with a telegraph station, stockyards, coal shed, and a machine shop. (The water supply was obtained from "Seven Springs" south of town. This unique, natural pure water flow is still the town's water source.) A post office was also established at Long Pine in 1881.For many years, Long Pine was still a fragile outpost in the Wild West. Kid Wade and Doc Middleton, notorious horse thieves in the late 1880s, caused many anxious moments for early settlers. The Upstill Hotel and the Miller House were constructed in the 1890s to house travelers and railroad employees. A large boarding house was also made a part of the depot in the early 1900s. Needless to say, Long Pine suffered greatly in the late 1950s when railroad passenger service was discontinued and train service was cut. Soon thereafter the roundhouse, shop, and stockyards were removed, eliminating many jobs. A small depot was built to handle business for the two freight trains each day that currently serve this area.
Star Livery Stable owned by Fred Aten was located on the northwest corner of 5th and Main Street. The sight of the large livery barn, filled with hay, welcomed travelers to the town of Long Pine during its early years.
Water tower and coal chute. [Long Pine Heritage Society]
Miller House built in 1895, now Heritage House. Boarding house for railroad crews when they laid over. Below: Pavilion in Hidden Paradise, where big-name bands played and people came from miles around.