RAILROADS played a very integral & important
part in the History & growth of Ashland
Ashland had become a very important transportation center
The Burlington & Missouri Railroad came to Ashland
from Plattsmouth – Oreopolis NE on May 9. 1870.
This page made possible by the contributions & ‘borrowing’ from
numerous donors, websites & other research materials.
We wish to gratefully acknowledge each & all of the aforementioned;

a complete research bibliography will be made available at later time.

The B & M Railroad 4-4-0 locomotive, that 1st served Ashland, was built in Manchester NH in 1870
and was called “Wauhoo” . . it ran as ‘old No. 7’
The locomotive was manufactured by Manchester Locomotive Works of Manchester NH
research shows they built 1800 steam locomotives between 1849 and 1913
Thanks to the sale of property in 1869 or so by Dennis Dean * to the Burlington & Missouri Railroad (B&MR)
needed to extend their rails from Plattsmouth-Oroepolis & its ‘new’ railroad bridge across the
Missouri River at Plattsmouth to newly named Lincoln NE (formerly known as Lancaster in the NE territory)
and on westward to Fort Kearny*, an important military post of the day. 
*Fort Kearny” is the area we know as Kearney NE today
* We invite you to view the Dennis Dean Limestone House  < page
to learn about Dennis’ contributions to Ashland History and to

learn his special bargain & his negotiations with the railroad.

 The telegraph lines came to Saunders County in May 1869. The railroad in 1870. 

From 1867 thru 1870, a stage line ran from Plattsmouth to Lincoln. 

Ashland was an overnight stop-over. This gave rise to a brisk early hotel business to service the stage line.

Ashland actually became the hub of 4 railroads

All four merged or became part of the CB & Q – Burlington Route over time

Land and shares of Stock were sold to fund the development of the railroads


The RAILROAD MAP ^ of 1913 shows great detail of lines service in Ashland & Saunders County of that day.
* (B&MR) line to Memphis, Ithaca, Wahoo, Malmo, Prague, Rescue & on to Schuyler
*Ashland-Sioux City line to Wann, Yutan – (in 2013 serves Abel) merging with other lines going N, across the Platte River,
to Sioux City, NW to Fremont & W to Mead and Wahoo – the Mead-Wahoo line was extended to Omaha at later time
** historical note – the (CNW) line from Lincoln through Ceresco, Swedeburg, Wahoo, Colon, Cedar Bluffs & on to Fremont is shown
This Chicago Northwestern Railroad (CNW) was built in 1886 and closed Sept 1, 1981, and the tracks were removed.
* * The Burlington & Missouri Railroad, rail line:
The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad (B&MR) was an American railroad company incorporated in Iowa in 1852, with headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.
 (B&MR) was developed to build a railroad across the state of Iowa and began operations in 1856.
The building of the (B&MR) rail line began in Plattsmouth, through Louisville, Ashland, Greenwood, Waverly, Havelock, Lincoln and on west to Ft Kearny.
Ashland spawned 2 spurs – Ashland-Schuyler line in 1887 & the Ashland-Sioux City line.
On August 30 1880, the Burlington completed its cast iron bridge across the Missouri River, linking IA, NE and “the west”.
Seven years later (1887), the completion of the Ashland / South Omaha connection, at a reported cost
of nearly $1 million dollars, provided a link between Omaha and Lincoln.
C. B. & Q. did not link to (B&MR) from Omaha, through Ralston, Chalco, Gretna, Melia,
after crossing the Platte River; a few miles east of Ashland and on to Lincoln – until 1887.
(C. B. & Q. had built a spur from Omaha to Oreopolis, linking to Plattsmouth in the 1860’s)
In July of 1879 work was begun on a bridge spanning the Missouri River near Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
The Chief Engineer was George S. Morrison. The bridge, with a total span of 3000 feet,
was completed in August of 1880 and opened for traffic, August 30, 1880
INSERT 2 bridge photos
On August 30 1880, the Burlington completed its cast iron bridge across the Missouri River, linking IA, NE and “the west”.
The (B&MR) bridge is constructed of steel spans, of 300 feet in length each.
The channel of the river at the point where the bridge crosses it is only 344 feet, a narrowness that was secured by many years of rip-rapping by the railroad company,
who constructed formidable piers and dykes of stone, on the Iowa side, in order to turn the channel permanently in the direction of the rocky bluffs on the Nebraska shore.
These improvements, although attended by an enormous outlay of money, have so securely hemmed in the channel
as to make the enterprise of bridging the stream an easy and comparatively cheap undertaking.
Thin spans are supported in the center and at the ends by piers of great solidity, constructed of stone and iron.
The substructure of these piers is the bed rock, which at that point is reached at fifty feet below low water mark.
This work was effected by compressed air, the machinery for which was purchased at a large cost.
The pier on the Nebraska shore, however, rests on the bed of the rock bluffs, which is at about low water mark.
The bridge is approached from the Iowa side by a high grade of considerable length, while on the Nebraska side it is approached through a deep cut in the bluffs.
The bridge is fifty feet above high water mark, thus doing away with the necessity of a draw.
The (B&MR) was absorbed by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1904 with two disvisions
known as Lines West and Lines East, headquartered at 10th & Farnam in Omaha.
For MANY years is was know as, simply The Burlington Route
The Omaha offices became known as the “Omaha Division”
INSERT 2 stock pictures
INSERT ‘local land office agents’
  1. B. Fuller was the local land agent in Ashland & for all of Saunders County

. . prices were $3.00 to $7.00 per acre in Saunders County ! !

Abel B. Fuller, the present oldest living white settler in the county, came to Nebraska in 1862 and located at Ashland in 1863,

opened a general merchandise store and engaged in overland freighting from Plattsmouth to the mountains.

This he followed until 1867, when he took up the real estate business and was appointed land agent for the Burlington and Union Pacific railroads.

He was a member of the Legislature from Nebraska Territory in 1865-66 and from the state in 1867.

Mr. Fuller is still living in Ashland at the age of seventy eight years, having been born in Michigan on November 26, 1837.

Newspaper account of prominent citizens & merchants in Ashland, published by The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago 1915

Jim Mc Kee, known as “Mr. Lincoln” for his writing of history about Lincoln & other parts of NE

writes in the Lincoln Journal Star, in an article Decmber 22 of 2012, that . . .

Although America’s railroads received huge grants of land as encouragement to build the nation’s system of rails,

the land had to be sold to provide cash to finance actual construction.

That meant millions of acres of land in the western portion of the United States were offered,

some at rock-bottom rates, and settlement of states, such as Nebraska, became the goal of thousands of families.           

Roger Welsch, a Nebraska folklorist who lives in Dannebrog, used to say early Americans

arrived on the Mayflower while early Nebraskans arrived on the Burlington. . . .”

. . . After the end of the Civil War, the federal government turned its attention to the completion of the

transcontinental railroad, and a period of near rail-laying frenzy ensued.

To spur this construction, the United States gave land to the major players,

with the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad receiving 2,374,091 acres in Nebraska alone. . . . “

* * The Ashland – Schuyler rail line

The Ashland – Schuyler line served Memphis (and its Ice Plant), Ithaca, Wahoo, Malmo, Prague & Schuyler.

Jim Krzycki of the Schuyler Historical Society writes that
ecause of the huge increase in the Schuyler population – which was about 200 in 1868, compared to 1,424 in 1870 – and the large increase in Union Pacific railroad usage, the Omaha and North Platte Railroad Co. was incorporated March 15, 1895.

They decided to build a railway system through Douglas, Sarpy and Saunders counties to Ashland, and Butler and Colfax counties to Schuyler.”

The rail system was completed (from Ashland to) Schuyler on Oct. 24, 1887.

This was particularly timely, in that the Ashland / South Omaha connection was completed about the same time.

The Armour Ice House & Armour and Company had completed (1897) the world’ largest ice house in Memphis.

INSERT ‘MEMPHIS’ picture, to leftMemphis, in southeastern Saunders County, was once the home of “the world’s largest ice house.”

The town owes its beginnings to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, which chose this site for a station

along its Ashland to Schuyler branch on land belonging to John Owen.

Residents wanted to name the town “Owensville,” but Owen, a quiet and reserved man, objected.

Since many settlers came from Tennessee, the name “Memphis” was chosen.

The first train arrived in February 1887. A post office was established in 1888, with John Barr as postmaster.

The largest business in Memphis was the Armour Ice House, built in 1897.

A huge “earthen dish” was made by dredging out the site and building up dikes.

Water to fill the lake came from springs and from Silver Creek, a half mile away.

In March the water was drained and the land was pastured. In the fall, the ground was cleared

of all debris, including livestock droppings, and the lake was filled with clear springwater.

When it froze to a depth of eight inches, harvest began.

Crews cut the ice into 20-foot by 40-foot cakes using a scorer pulled by a team of horses.

The ice was then sawed into smaller blocks which were “pike-poled” to the channel,

then floated onto the elevators and into the ice house where it was packed in sawdust.

The original ice house had 12 storage rooms measuring 150-feet by 32-feet. Eight more rooms were added later.

A 300-horsepower steam engine and two dynamos fueled with coal provided the plant’s electricity.

On average, 24-carloads of ice were shipped daily by rail to Omaha and Chicago to be used, primarily, in the Armour meat packing plants.

Memphis ice was of “a better quality” than river-ice, “pure enough to be put directly into lemonade or tea.”

The ice house provided employment for 25 Memphis families, and an additional 300 men during the busy season.

The winter crew was shipped to Memphis by the railroad from Omaha and surrounding towns to work the ice harvest,

and were housed in the Armour Hotel, the boarding house for the ice plant.  In 1921 fire destroyed the ice house.


The Swift Ice Plant, in Ashland, had the largest storage capacity in the world of similar character.

Editor’s note . . bragging rights being what they are, Armour and Swift each claimed ‘world’s largest’ title

This plant was started in 1890. The total storage capacity is more than 100,000 tons; there are twenty four rooms of 5,000 tons capacity.

INSERT 2 pictures of Swift Ice Plant

The ice was needed in Omaha at Swift Company to refrigerate the meat produced &

shipped in ‘refrigerated box cars’ at the Union Stockyards Company,

located between 26th & 33rd streets – L street to Q streets

The Union Stockyards Company in South Omaha NE was the largest in the world

 INSERT COLOR picture of Omaha Union Stockyards building and pens

Union Stockyards Company yards & pens, surround the office building

packing houses of Swift, Armour, Morrell & others were huge plants;

all having Burlington Railroad access for shipping the meat nation & world wide

INSERT smaller B&W photo of Union Stock Yards Co. offices

Union Stock Yards Company building – South Omaha NE

Krzycki of Schuyler Historical Society continues . .

On Dec. 1, 1886, the CB&Q leased the line from Omaha and North Platte Railroad Co.

On Feb. 15, 1908, they deeded the entire interest to the Burlington (B&MR) system.

This railway was to have been built all the way to Norfolk, but the excessive cost of

building bridges across the Platte River made the construction stop at Schuyler.


Burlington Railroad discontinued (Ashland – Schuyler passenger) service on Dec. 4, 1941.

The largest crowd to appear at the Schuyler depot was on a Thanksgiving morning.

The last (passenger) train to pull out of the station was “Old 956.”

There were nine cars containing some railroad salvage and one passenger.

The person to purchase the last ticket was the “King of the Hoboes” or King David,

nee Henry * C. Beetison, 58. He purchased his round trip ticket in Ashland.”

( *corrrection – should be Harry C. <Cleybourne> Beetison )

Freight service continued on the “Schuyler line” until approximately 1982.

In later years, Burlington employees referred to the line as the “Prague line

grain elevators along the route to & from Prague were served until it was closed

The line was ‘abandoned’, trackage sold & removed & the land was sold.

The rail bridge over Salt Creek, linking the line to the ‘main’ in Ashland,

may have proven to be one of the reasons for ceasing service.

We learn from Andrea’s History of the State of NE – Saunders County – Ashland– produced (transcribed) by Jennifer Beatty

” Near the B. & M. R. R. station, across the creek (Salt Creek), now spanned by a magnificent new iron bridge just completed,

are three large grain elevators, operated by steam-power, with adjacent buildings of sufficient capacity for storing purposes. “

A friend of AHS & a railroad historian, found the following information in his research:

Our friend Randy found the citation above in the October 4, 1901 Railway Journal & was able to develop a map that shows the location of the rail bridge, the wagon bridge, the Dean Mill dam, etc., from old maps of Ashland;

the wagon bridge was located at ‘old 3rd street’ (13th street, today) before the maps were changed;

when new plat maps were drawn & new #’s & street names assigned.

Thank You, Randy Gordon-Gilmore: www.protrains.com , for your interest & assistance
NOTE: I don’t think Randy’s website is working. He moved from TX to CA recently.

INSERT map provided by Randy Gordon-Gilmore

Your assistance is requested:

we are looking for picture(s) of the railroad bridge, described ^ above,across

 Salt Creek at Ashland; this bridge connected to the trackage that traversed through

the west side of Ashland, diagonally crossed Silver Street at about 22nd street,

then went on to Memphis, Ithaca, etc.; terminating in Schuyler, as described above.

please forward to  INFO@AshlandHistoricalSociety.INFO


Salt Creek regularly flooded in Ashland, due to the severe & sharp curvage of the creek.

Salt Creek flooding, in June of 1982, was the final chapter in the 1887 B&MR bridge;

very severe damage was sustained at the site. The rail line was closed & the bridge removed.


FEB 2013 webmaster update: we recently acquired The Old Mill Dam photo shown above; if you look to the right side of the photo, a bit more than 1/2 way up, in a break in the trees (several trees –  a break – and 1 tree on the right, “the railroad bridge” shows up in close inspection.

The old ‘horse bridge’ across  Salt Creek is shown with the south approach very clearly. To date, the “illusive” railroad bridge picture is the only one

we have been able to locate. We are quite sure there are more in collections, as this bridge was in the same place from 1887 thru 1982 ! !

Historical note: the Ashland-Schuyler rail line was completed & opened Oct. 24, 1887 – the Railway Journal citation is from Oct 4, 1901 . . .

We are quite sure that the bridge was completed & in use on the 1887 date above . . . we doubt they ‘floated the train’ across Salt Creek for 4 years !


The many “Bridges of Ashland” will be featured in a new page soon.

The reason for so many bridges (across Salt Creek) in & around Ashland

is that spring rains & severe flooding caused severe damage, destruction

& new bridges to be built to replace the damage / washed out bridges.

* * The Ashland – Sioux City rail line

(aka: Sioux City and Western Railroad Company)

The Ashland – Sioux City rail line ran north from the east edge of Ashland

through Wann, Yutan & other communities to Sioux City

The beginning of every enterprise such as a village, a town or a city depends upon an industry, a natural resource, geographic location, or its climate.

Wann was no exception to this rule. The Sioux City and Western Railroad Company felt that the land through what is now Wann was the only place

for the railroad to build as it stretched its way (from Ashland) to Sioux City. Anticipating the building of a town here because of its settlers and pioneers,

they bargained with Andrew Wilson for ten acres of land to be used for the railroad right-of-way and a town when it came into being.

The transaction was completed with the stipulation that there would never be any liquor sold within its limits.

The railroad company also gave Mr. Wilson the privilege of naming the town when it was built.

They suggested the name “Wilsonville” but Mr. Wilson, feeling that it would never be a large town, thought a small name should be given to it.

The railroad then submitted to him a large sheet of town names.

Seeing the name of Wann, he decided on it, a small name for a small town and the “W” would stand for Wilson.

The Burlington Line continued to expand by laying new track from Fremont to Ashland in 1905-1906.

This track followed the eastern boundary of the county (Saunders) along the Platte River and included Woodcliff, Leshara, Yutan, and Wann, and gave excellent train service to these communities. (see 1913 railroad map above)

   * *    The C. B. & Q. – Burlington Route rail line

INSERT picture of steam engine climbing Melia Hill, of 1962

The C. B. & Q. – Burlington Route rail via the (B&MR) line extended their rail line from South Omaha, across the Platte River (1887), a few miles east of Ashland – through Ralston, Chalco, Gretna and Melia, linking to the Burlington & Missouri Railroad at Ashland

* * Mergers and Acquistions
As stated earlier, the CB & Q – Burlington Route absorbed of all the pioneering rail lines described above
In the 1970’s a merger of the Burlington Route with other lines became known as the Burlington-Northern
In the 1990’s a merger between the B-N & the Santa became known as BNSF, as it remains in 2013.

Ashland had become a very important transportation center

INSERT OXBOW TRAIL Historic Marker picture

Prior to the Railroad, settlers going west depended on trails such as our own
OX-BOW Trail & river & creek crossings such as our Saline Ford Crossing of Salt Creek.
A future page will provide pictures & stories of the may bridges that have served Ashland
We invite you to visit the Bridges of Ashland page
recognition to Clint Eastwood & Meryl Streep
for Bridges of Madison County  

This marker sits astride the Ox-Bowl Trail, along side Historic US Highway 6 in Ashland.

The trail was also known as the Old Fort Kearny or Nebraska City Road.

(see our Route 6 – Historic Route 6  < page for more information)

Beginning in the 1840’s, this route carried thousands of emigrants and millions of pounds of freight

destined for the settlements, mining camps, or military posts of the West.

Many travelers were Mormons bound for the Great Salt Lake Valley.

(A marker & gravesite of one of the travelers is located along Silver Street in Ashland, adjacet to the bridge)

The trail, looping north to the Platte from such Missouri River towns as Plattsmouth and Nebraska City, resembled an Ox-Bow, after which it was named.

On the East side of downtown Ashland, was an important ford across Salt Creek, where limestone ledges form a natural low-water bridge.

The “Saline Ford Crossing” may still be seen at Ashland NE . . just south of the historic Silver Creek Bridge . .

. . . on a calm day when the water flowing north in Salt Creek makes its way to the Platte River.
INSERT picture of Silver Creek Bridge.

there will be later edits to this, as the bridge has been dismantled & re-purposed.

Travel over the trail declined in the mid-1860’s with the development of more direct routes from the Missouri to the Central Platte Valley.

Travel further diminished when the (B&MR) railroad made its way from Plattsmouth to Ashland and beyond in 1870.

The water supply for the City of Lincoln comes from wells in the Platte Valley near here.

In 1932 the pumping station was built (completed in 1937, in Ashland), and a 36-inch water main laid to Lincoln.

A treatment plant (also in Ashland) and an additional 48-inch main were added in the 1950’s.


you will find a SPECIAL TREAT
for Rail Road Buffs & Model Railroaders !
You will find a VIDEO of the worlds largest model railroad;
complete with the worlds largest model airport !
Be sure to stay for the movie . . bring your own popcorn !

history and be fun ! ! . . we try to NOT make it boring ! !

SEVERAL pictures, ‘LOGOS’ etc. to be inserted on page
A new modern brick and mortar structure was built by the Burlington Route in 1906
the depot, freight house and restaurant opened in 1907 to serve the Ashland Community
After CB & Q Railroad acquired-merged with the (B&MR) in 1872, the logos above
represented the rail line until their merger known as Burlington-Northern (B-N) in the 1970’s
The BURLINGTON ROUTE logos were the “face” of the CB & Q for many years.
In the 1990’s Burlington-Northern (B-N) merged with the Santa Fe &
the rail line is now known as Burlington Northtern-Santa Fe (BNSF)
Below are several pictures of previous Depots, rail yards, coal chutes,
that served Ashland including several photos of the 1907 Burlington Route depot

INSERT Pictures and demolition INFO of SEP 09, 2009
Above are some pictures of the ‘modern day’ Burlington Depot
built in 1907 that was demolished SEP 8th of 2009
after 3 days . . this is all that was left of our memories from 1870 . .
In an arcticle by Suzi Nelson of the Ashland Gazette, featured in the Omaha World Herald, 
Marie Groenjes & sister-in-law Marian Barnes share their thoughts:

” “Devastating,” is how Barnes described the news. Her husband, Bob, worked for the railroad for 22 years. She also had fond memories of the depot from her childhood.

She and Groenjes said the depot’s interior was striking, with cream-colored marble floors,

high ceilings and dark wood adorned with carved designs.

Benches filled the waiting room, where passengers anticipated their departure or awaited the return of their loved ones.

“It was such a beautiful, beautiful building on the inside,” said Barnes. “


Marie Groenjes recalled, ” . . Groenjes’ family came to Ashland to work for the railroad at the turn of the last century.

. . “The history of my family coming here is really connected to the railroad,” she said.

Her great-uncle, Tom Dailey, was transferred to Ashland in 1900.

He became the station master and built a house that still stands at Seventh and Cedar Streets.

In 1915, Groenjes’ grandfather, Grover Squire, who was married to Tom Dailey’s sister, Mary Ann,

came to Ashland and built the house she lives in today. He worked as a section gang repairing rails and as a freight clerk.

Tom Dailey passed the railroad experience onto the next generation, teaching telegraphy to his four nephews, including Groenjes’ father, Clifford Squire.

Clifford Squire worked as a clerk for the railroad when he was a teenager.

After serving in France during World War I, he returned to Ashland and a job as a telegrapher for the railroad.

He retired after 48 years of service in 1965.

Groenjes remembered crossing the tracks each day to get to school.

The telegraph operator would often come and stand at the tracks to make sure the children crossed safely, she recalled. “


Editors note . . . It had been hoped that the railroad would have reached out to the community, letting us find a way to preserve this important bit of history


It was the view of several that “the owners made what might be called

a “cubicle decision”; someone in a cubicle in a far-away-office made a decision
to remove ‘excess, aging, tax-liabilty properties – possibly requiring maintenance’
Historical Note:
It seems that the basic design of the Ashland Depot was the same as
that of depots built in Crete NE, Tecumseh NE, Curtis NE & other locations
The Crete depot was destroyed the same month as Ashland’s

Research will be reported on the status of the others described.

RAILROAD BUFF ? ? ? . . . . “Model Railroader” ? ? ?


HERE’s the VIDEO we promised earlier ! !


The 5 minute video with sound, is of a HUGE model railroad display in Hamburg Germany

After six years and over $4,440,000, the world’s largest model railroad

now has the world’s largest model airport

 The 1,600 square foot addition is just the latest to Hamburg, Germany’s

  >  Miniatur Wunderland  < which has plans to continue expanding until 2020

 special note:   this video is from Miniatur Wunderland on Devour.com

the link is virus free and safe to play the video as soon

as  the arrow appears in the center of picture you will be astonished !   . . ENJOY  ! !

Do you have color photos of the Burlington Depot ? ?



 We are SEARCHING for more COLOR photosexterior & interior ? ?
The interior had beautiful woodwork & terrazo floors !
Pleaseattach‘ & send them to:

We will arrange to scan your treasured photo (not damaging it in any way)

We thank you for your support in preserving and ‘telling’ the History of Ashland NE