Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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Help save the concrete railing

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This did not arrive in time for last week’s issue.)

Please, help to save the concrete railing on the southeast side of Lake Helen.

Drive up Lake Avenue today. This fence, built in the 1890s, is the last visible memory of our Lake Helen.

The biggest memory of Gothenburg, Nebraska, was on the other side of this railing. This area put us on the map.

Purpose now? Hey, this is the only thing left of this fantastic part of our town’s beginning.

People living in this community, now and generations to come, need to know what an interesting part of Gothenburg’s history began on the other side of this railing.

I recommend that we save this concrete railing as a memorial to our past; and design a plaque that explains the history as to why it is important to Gothenburg.

I tried to convince the Gothenburg City Council to reconsider their vote to take down this historical marker in our community. The concrete fence around the southeast corner of what was Lake Helen is going to be removed.

That railing was constructed before 1900. Yes, it needs to be repaired, but I have volunteers willing to help us. How many structures built over 100 years ago do not need some form of repair?

The Power Plant is gone that made Gothenburg known back in the 1890s. This plant and the water system were created to generate the power which made it possible for our community to have electricity before any other community around. It was said that we were the only community west of Kearney and east of Denver, CO, to have electricity. We even had electric street lights to light our streets and electric stoves in our kitchens.

Gothenburg supplied electricity for Cozad, Lexington, and Eustis. Lake Helen, known in the early 1900s as the largest man-made lake in Nebraska, was the reservoir to hold the water needed to be forced through the power plant to create this supply of electricity. We had many factories around Lake Helen: the Gothenburg Roller (flour) Mill, the ice blocks industry, Wagner Cigar Factory, Shirt & Overall Factory, F. J. Howe Barbed Wire Factory, the Steam Brick Yards, Holton Brass & Copper Works, just to name a few.

Railroad rails were provided so freight could be transported. Even Burlington Railroad from their south route provided rails north to Gothenburg, so they too could benefit from freight transportation. Many engineers from places like Lexington, Kearney, Chicago, and New York came here to see the wonders of this creative project.

It would be another big mistake to destroy this part of our history!

If you would like to help us save this historical marker, please attend the next Gothenburg City Council meeting April 7 at 7 p.m. If not able to attend; contact Larry or Kathleen Nichols at 308-537-2681. We will add your name to our list.

Help us save Lake Helen’s last historical marker!

Larry and Kathleen Nichols, Gothenburg