Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Powering Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Nebraska, blossomed in the early 20th century when electrification arrived in town, and allowed industry to expand. This set of photos shows the building of a wooden water pipe that brought hydraulic power to the town's powerhouse.

From the logo, I'm pretty sure that's a Texas Central RR boxcar

Nebraska winters can be brutal!

Note the one half-window above the door, then compare it with the last photo below.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Gothenburg: Mill on Fire

If there is one thing that's always been feared in small farming towns, it's a grain mill fire and explosion. Towns were made of wood...wood buildings and wood roofs, and fires could spread fast and furious, especially when the mill is next to a lumber yard!

With the fire in the mill well underway, townspeople band together to push the wooden railcars down the siding and out of danger. In the distance is another grain mill and elevator: take note of the open window on the top floor: this was where the panaramic photos in our first Gothenburg post were taken.
Nothing can be done to save the mill at this point, but at the far left, the stacks of lumber are being dowsed to keep embers from igniting them.

Across the Lincoln Highway from the mill, townspeople scramble to protect the wooden roofs of nearby buildings, possibly the most important being the Pabst Saloon!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Gothenburg: The Auditorium Garage Burns

Part 2 in a special series from Gothenburg, Nebraska and the John Fredling family photo album.

In the last Gothenburg post, I made note of the location of The Auditorium Garage. It's a curious name for a garage...maybe they combined functions? Automobiles were still very new, almost luxury items for a lot of people in the mid-1910s, so it is interesting to me to find such a large building catering to the repair of automobiles. At anyrate, one day a fire started in at back of the building, and Gothenburg's meager firefighting resources were no match for the blaze.

The fire started in the back of the garage, and one small stream of firefighting water is being directed fruitlessly on it. The building in the foreground, immediately to the west of the garage, is the Frank M. Beckley Livery and Stables. Signs on the building advertise Bellemont Hats for $3 and Yeast Foam, a cracker-like food supplement guaranteed to give you excellent digestion.

In the above photo, the nearest 2nd story window has been busted out, presumably so someone on the ladder could spray water in.

The facade of the building is tin stamped to look like brick...but it's still just why spray it with water? That little stream, where it's been directed, seems like a complete waste of effort.

The firefighters seem to have given up on the garage and are trying to protect the building next door.

The photographer, possibly John Fredling, was quick on the shutter, and shot just as the front of the building starts to collapse. The two photos below might be from this same fire, but might not. They were in a different part of the album (which doesn't really mean anything, because there seems to be very little organization, photos were just glued in randomly), and more importantly the printing is different. There was still a lot of smoke, and that plus the general fading made the images very light; I've significantly enhanced the contrast in order to bring out more detail.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Gothenburg Panarama

Gothenburg in 1919
Recently, the Archive acquired a large photo album from a flea market dealer; the album had once owned by a family who lived in Gothenburg, Nebraska, and the photos all seem to be dated from 1907-1915. The album itself was in extremely poor condition, with the covers and the binding long gone, meaning it's really just a stack of very tattered and torn pages. Some of the photos had previously been removed (possibly by other buyers at the flea market), and most are just family photos. Some, however, give an amazing insight into this small midwestern farming and railroad town in the early 1900s. Three of the photos show an overview of the town taken from top of one of the grain elevators along the Union Pacific Railroad. A fourth photo, taken at a different time (based on the paper used for the print), appears to show the part of town on the south side of the tracks.

Stitched panarama of three individual photos taken from one of Gothenburg's grain elevators
Google Earth view of the same area today
Gothenburg can trace its origins to 1882 when Swedish immigrant Olof Bergstrom established a homestead in Dawson County. As a land agent for the Union Pacific Railroad, he helped select the town site as a coaling and watering stop for the railroad's steam locomotives, and the railroad laid out the original eight-block street plan in 1884; the town was incorporated a year later. Bergstrom maintained his ties with the Old Country, and a number of other Swedish immigrants followed him and settled in Gothenburg, named after the city in Sweden.

Photo No. 1 in the series looks northwest along the railroad tracks and Lincoln Highway
Avenue G is in the immediate foreground of the above photo, which later would be built as an overpass. Ave. F is just this side of the Pabst Saloon, and Lake Street, the main business street, is just beyond. At the far left is the coaling tower for the Union Pacific locomotives, along with the water spout. The grain mill in the middle distance would later burn, and a series of photos of that catastrophy will be featured in an upcoming post.

Pabst Saloon - a frontal view will be included in an upcoming post. 
Building featuring advertising signs for Tom Keene Cigars and Velvet Tobacco.
One thing that I find fascinating about these three photos is what's not in them: in spite of there being at least two garages in town, there is not a single automobile. There are a few scattered wagons and two steam-powered farm tractors (one with a combine), and in this whole panaramic town view, only five people! (I'll leave it to you the reader to play a bit of Where's Waldo Gothenburgite).
Photo No. 2 in the series
According to the 1919 map at the top of this post, there were two large local landowners with the name Norsworthy, J. E. Norsworthy, and J. H. Norsworthy.

The Blacksmith shop with a sign advertising the Auto Garage "one block south". That would suggest that there were at least two garages in town, as The Auditorium Garage (below) is a couple blocks north of this location.
The Auditorium Garage (the name somewhat mystifies me), significant because in a series of photos we'll feature in an upcoming post, it burns to the ground.
Photo No. 3 in the series
Most of the outhouses in view seem to have his-and-hers stalls

This photo, which appears to show the part of Gothenburg south of the UP tracks, was taken at a different time that the other three, based on the photo paper used. Again, though, no cars nor people can be seen.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Our House - 17

The log cabin construction, the tree-trunk porch posts, the 1890s clothes, this is one interesting family gathering photo.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Our House - 16

Why is the theme song for the old TV show My Three Sons suddenly running through my head?