Submitted by: Brenda Busing
The County Seat of Gage County-On the Union Pacific and Burlington & Missouri Railroad-Forty Miles From Lincoln-Population Eight Thousand
Beatrice, the county seat of Gage county, is situated forty miles directly south of Lincoln and about seventy miles west of the Missouri river. It is in the center of one of the most productive counties in the whole west. Gage county borders on the Kansas-Nebraska state line, and has an area of 24 x 36 miles. Besides containing a large area of Fertile farming lands, Gage county has within its borders the best magnesian limestone quarries in the state and inexhaustible beds of fire clay of the first quality. The Big Blue river, a beautiful stream, and its nine tributary creeks, drain and water every township in the county. These streams are fringed with extensive strips of timber, and Gage probably has wood and water in greater abundance than any other county in the state, not bordering on the Missouri river.
Beatrice is situated on the banks of the Blue river. The surface of the land on either side rise gradually to a commanding altitude and affords splendid drainage. Beatrice is without doubt the handsomest city in the state. Nature and private and public enterprise have combined to make a beautiful city. First the Blue river and its magnificent valley; then a liberal, public spirited and progressive people. These have joined and the effect is one of the handsomest and most prosperous cities.
Within the last three years Beatrice has ceased to be a village. From a population of 3,000 it has grown to 8,000 and this number is daily increased by arrivals from the east. The town had a steady growth for several years, but within the past three years the increase has been rapid and notable. First came the publication of a daily newspaper; then the Union Pacific railroad; the electric and gas light; the street railway; the Rock Island railroad in Nebraska; a system of Holly water works. All this time new public and private buildings were being completed, new enterprises were started, and the result has been a symmetrical growth into a busy and beautiful city. The people who have come to Beatrice in these recent years are here to stay. They have found a beautiful city, a healthful climate, an intelligent and enterprising community, and in their business affairs they have prospered. They are, therefore here to stay. It is of these that the community is composed, and they make the city a desirable one to live in. Nowhere in the county can be found citizens so loyal to their city as in Beatrice.
The business interests of Beatrice are worthy of special mention. Every line that is carried on in the west is represented. The following is a partial enumeration; Agricultural implements, four; banks, six; bakers, three; fruits and confectioners, seven; news, book and job printing, four; exclusive job printing, one; books and stationery, three; boots and shoes, twelve; carriages and buggies, four; clothing, six, coal and wood, five; crockery and queensware, two; butter and eggs, one; druggists, seven; dry goods, ten; flour and feed, three; furniture, two; groceries, fifteen; hardware, five; lumber, seven; merchant tailor, seven; millinery, six; pumps and fixtures, two; stoves and tinware, five; undertakers, two. In these are four large general merchandise stores. The foregoing named lines of business are represented by large stocks, and several of them are in fine commodious buildings.
In the line of mills and manufactures Beatrice has about fifty establishments. They are represented as follows: Barb wire one, boots and shoes five, brick three, brooms two, canned goods one, sewer pipe one, asphalt paving one, fence one, carriages and buggies one, carpet weavers one, cornice one, hair goods one, harness three, marble works one, mineral and soda water one, stone saw mill one, wagon makers four, washing machines two, windmills and water tanks three, cigars and tobacco three, gas works one, electric light works one, flour mills one, foundry and machine shops one, planing mills one. Of these enterprises the Beatrice sewer-pipe company is perhaps the largest. The works, a mile south of the city, have recently started, employing about fifty hands. The plant is a large one. A first-class article of sewer-pipe is made, and in a short time the manufacture of earthenware and tiling will begin. Large beds of superior clay for this purpose have been found. When running at full capacity the works will employ about 100 people. Another notable enterprise is the canning factory, now in its third year. Large quantities of goods, pronounced of first quality, are shipped to all parts of the union. In the season about 150 hands are employed. Besides the money paid to these people a large sum for vegetables raised is expended among the farmers. The canning enterprise In this way foster two home markets. The windmill and water-tank manufacturers, the carriage factory, the foundry and shops, and other enterprises employ a large number of people. The latest addition to the manufacturing enterprises of the city is the Beatrice Burial Case and Manufacturing company. This company has a capital of $50,000, and is formed for the manufacture of coffins and woodenware. A large three-story brick building will be immediately erected. It will be seen by the branches of manufacture represented that skilled workmen of any trade, or laborers, can find employment.
The manufacturing era has hardly begun. The Blue river running directly through and half around the city affords excellent water power, only a small part of which is utilized. Inducements are now offered for a woolen mill, paper mills, and starch factories. Four elevators with a combined capacity of 60,000 bushels per day and a flouring mill turning out 100 barrels daily should also be mentioned in connection with the above named enterprises.
Building operations were very active last year. Twelve new brick business buildings were erected at a cost of over $150,000. Five million bricks were used. It is estimated that the expenditure last year for public and private improvements was, in round number, $1,000,000. This year the work is going on more actively than ever. Since the 1st of February, over 100 dwellings have been commenced. Several new business buildings are under way, and architects are preparing plans for other. The most notable building completed this year is the Masonic temple, than which there is none finer in the west. A fine large opera house and a commodious union depot are among the proposed structures this season.
The year thus far has been a very busy one. All classes of trade have prospered and real estate has had an unprecedented activity. Several notable sales have taken place in the past month. Many new additions have been platted, and by the end of the year the corporate limits will have been considerably extended. No city in the stae offers better opportunity for profitable investment than Beatrice.
The professional and mechanic classes are well represented. The attorneys, physicians and ministers of Beatrice will take high rank for ability, and some of them have served ably in the councils of state. The mechanics are industrious and skilled artisans to whom the town owes much for its beautiful appearance and many conveniences. A number of smaller lines of business are carried on, which it is impossible to give special mention.
Beatrice is well furnished with railroads, having lines of three great systems, the Burlington, the Union Pacific and the Rock Island. The Burlington has a branch from Crete, in Saline county, thence south through Beatrice and west. Another branch of the same road runs to Nebraska City on the Missouri river. The Union Pacific runs north and south, placing the city on a direct line between Omaha and Kansas City. The Chicago, Kansas & Nebraska, or Rock Island, was completed into Beatrice early in the present year. Its eastern connection is at St. Joseph and gives the city a direct route east. The road is still building westward. These lines afford ample facility for reaching out in any direction and enable the city to hold to her trade a large amount of territory. There are four passenger trains every day making such time as to enable the citizen to go to Omaha or Lincoln and return home the same day. The city has a certainty of getting the Kansas City, Wyandotte & Northern, the road from Kansas City to the northwest., and it is likely that the Missouri Pacific and the Chicago & Northwestern will extend their lines this way before the year is gone. It will be seen that Beatrice is soon to become an important railroad center, and as such can offer inducements to wholesale and local trade such as can be offered by no other city in this section. The lines already here are well patronized. During last year the Burlington & Missouri shipped 220 carloads of hogs, 154 of cattle and nearly 900 of corn. The amount of freight handled is not obtainable, but cars do not long remain upon the track empty.
There is no doubt that within a year or two Beatrice will have not less than six distinct systems of railroads centered at a splendid union depot with connections extending in every direction and reaching all desirable sections of the country.
Men live in cities because the comforts and conveniences of life, as well as the opportunities for business success can be better had in a larger organized community. Of these metropolitan attractions Beatrice can offer her share. First, the streets will soon again be reilluminated by the brilliant electric light. Gas is already used on the streets and in business houses and dwellings. A street railway starting from the depots, stretches around on-half of the city. A complete system of Holly water works, with six miles of main and eighty hydrants, furnishes an ample amount of water for all purposes. Water for domestic use is taken from a large well and for fire purposes the inexhaustible supply of the river is drawn upon. The water works were put in a year ago at a cost of $100,000 and give complete satisfaction. They have been severely tested two or three times in case of fire and have never been found wanting. Beatrice thus affords the citizen a security against fire that other towns of the size do not. The successful operation of the water works had considerably lowered the rates of insurance. Paving and sewerage are talked of, and with these and a free postal delivery, which is not far away, Beatrice will be a city in all its appointments.
But the citizen may have all these advantages and still be lacking in essentials. Electric light, gas, water, street cars, good pavements and fine buildings are well enough, but other things are necessary. What are all these conveniences unless they are joined with good educational and social advantages. The condition of the church societies is certainly a good index of the moral condition of a city. There are in Beatrice four Methodist church buildings and one each of the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Congregational, Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, United Brethren and Christian. The German Baptists and the Episcopalians will each build a new house this year. A splendid brick high school building, standing in the center of the city, was erected three years ago at a cost of $25,000. Several other buildings are used as ward and primary schools. Thirty teachers are employed, and the attendance is 2,500. The high school course has been so arranged that graduates may enter at once and without examination any regular course in the State university. There is a very good prospect that Beatrice will be made the seat of the new Lutheran college soon to be located in the west. People with families to rear and educate will not be slow to see these advantages. All the secret orders and various civic societies are of strong organization. For the cultured and studious there are several musical and literary societies, in which pleasant company is to be found. Everywhere the spirit of progress and improvement prevails.
To the home-seeker the price of real property is an important question. Prices are rising, as they are in all growing cities, but desirable property is to be had cheap and upon easy terms, upon the high table lands surrounding the city.
It should have been before stated that Beatrice is the seat of the state asylum for the feeble-minded. The institution is a splendid brick structure situated a mile east of the city, and built at a cost of $50,000. It has been located only a few months, but the number of applications already received will fill the institution. There is every reason to believe that it will prove a beneficence to the unfortunate class for whom it has been established. It is confidently expected that the Lutheran college will be located here. This college is to be one of the largest in the whole county as it is expected to draw an attendance from three or four states. Two or three elegent sites have been proposed, and wherever the choice may fall, the assurance can now be given that the Lutheran college will have a location worthy such an institution. It will be built with the expectation of accommodating 300 students.
The press of Beatrice is composed of two daily and four weekly newspapers, and a monthly publication in the interest of women. They receive a generous support and in return give excellent editions filled with faithful work for the city's interests.
To the foregoing statement of facts the attention of the eastern reader is cheerfully invited. To the homeseeker and the capitalist alike Beatrice offers the greatest inducements. There is employment; there is opportunity for investment. The climate is unsurpassed, and the prospects unequalled. It is impossible in the limits of an ordinary newspaper article to set forth all the advantages of this best of western communities. Those who can do so should come and see for themselves, and they will soon be satisfied that the half has not been told. An active enterprising board of trade is always ready to hear from people who contemplate locating here, and especially in all matters relating to new business enterprises. A letter addressed to the board upon any subject concering the city will be properly answered.