From NE ANCESTREE, Vol. 1 no. 2, p 86, published by the Nebraska Genealogical Society

Submitted to the NE Ancestry by Mrs. Maxine Sandquist, Lyons, Nebraska. Source "Story of An Old Town" by A. P. DeMilt (1902)


Although the tracks have not been laid, the rumbling of the rolling wheels of the flying cars have not been heard, and a daring engineer must yet pull the throttle that blows his whistle of warning, a survey was made for a practical route many long and weary years ago - and it will go down in history as the first in Neb., with that venerable old pioneer, Capt. S. T. LEAMING as its chief, and Christopher C. DUNN as baggage master of the overland trip. Other members of the party were Don BARKER, Wm. MCBRIDE, and John KISPERT. The survey began in the fall of 1858 in the little settlement of Decatur, starting the chain from the banks of the river and carried to a point beyond the Elkhorn, compassing a distance of over fifty miles, and the work only abandoned then on account of a shortage in provisions, and advancing cold weather. The survey was called the Decatur and South Pass Railroad, a feasable and direct line to the Rocky Mountains, authorized by the great Northwestern, known in those days under another name. The first camp, an American wall tent and an Indian buffalo teepee, was pitched at the head of Elm Creek valley, and the party awakened from a sound sleep by the crackling of a fierce and sweeping prairie fire. The next day occurred a total eclipse of the sun, the wind blowing strongly and cold. As it was dark as night, it impeded the progress of the boys and they were compelled to lay over until it cleared up. To cross the Logan, a tree was felled, and DUNN, to transport his oxen and the loaded wagon, had to go below a few miles and ford the stream. The first time he tried it his outfit got stuck, and this forced him to sleep out alone one night, but the next morning his companions came down and pulled DUNN out. Up on the Elkhorn the surveying party camped near a settlement of two families, MOORE and BABBITT, which was called Dewitt. Here the boys were treated very kindly by a man named CRAWFORD. The next summer Dewitt was raided by a band of pilfering Pawnees, and MOORE and BABBITT were driven away from their homes. A rude raft was constructed and floated in the Elkhorn for the surveyors to go back and forth on in the prosecution of their work on the other side of the river, and this, including a few other incidents, constitutes the first railroad survey made in Nebraska Territory.

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