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The village of Gordon was officially organized on November 19, 1885, on a site just a few blocks west of the Lone Willow, a landmark of the Old Kearney Trail. Although free homestead land was the lure that brought settlers to this part of Nebraska in the mid 1880s, the community took shape and prospered largely due to the railroad.
In any frontier community, a breed of men and women tend to develop who might be called "Renaissance people," because their interests and abilities spread effectively in many directions. Many Renaissance people were Gordon's early settlers, but they were only the first of the industrious, creative, spirited citizens who typify the Gordon community. Some have made contributions to society far beyond local boundaries, like Dwight Griswold, Governor of Nebraska, Ambassador to Greece and United States Senator during the 1940s and early 1950s and Val Fitch, a 1940 Gordon High School graduate who received the Noble Prize for Physics in 1980.
Perhaps the foremost person associated with this area is Jules Sandoz, immortalized by his eldest daughter, Mari Sandoz, in the biography, Old Jules. Mari Sandoz (1896 - 1966) is increasingly recognized as one of the most gifted writers in American literature.
James M. Riley --"Doc Middleton" -- was Gordon's most notorious resident. "Doc" was born in 1852 and came to Nebraska after beginning a career as a horse thief and murderer at the age of 14. In 1879, Doc married and made intentions to reform, but his gang and way of life were too tempting. In two years over 2,000 horses were stolen from ranchers as well as the Sioux Indians. Three children were born to Doc and his third wife, Rene. When Docs first born child, LuLu, died she was buried in the Gordon Cemetery. The marker is still there. Most of the murders Doc committed were a result of revenge taken on one who committed a crime against anyone he felt attached to. The old timers say that when a poor family in Gordon had a little girl that got sick, Doc paid for a doctor's care. When one child died, Doc had the casket made out of the bar in his saloon.
Today, US Highway 20 and Nebraska 27 intersect in Gordon, reinforcing its natural location as an agricultural and commercial center and also its development as a medical and cultural center. Nebraska Highway 27 coincides with Gordon's original Main Street, a thoroughfare that has pulsed with the life of the town from its earliest days. Here, and throughout the extended, far-flung community, resources merge to create continuity and progress. The greatest resource of all, now as in the past, is the people who call Gordon home.
Scamahorn Museum -
Located on West 5th Street in Wayland Park, the Scamahorn Museum is the 1884 original church structure dedicated as the First Methodist Episcopal Society in northwest Nebraska. Quilts sewn by women from the Scamahorn Colony are on display and the resource center contains catalogued factual stories and obituaries dating back to the settlement of the area. Museum hours are 1:30 -4 p.m., on Thursdays and Saturdays. Groups may visit by appointment during the closed season, which is June through September. Contact Bob Buchan at (308) 327-2917 for more information.
The Tri State Old Time Cowboys Memorial Museum -
Located in Whiship Park, the 40 foot by 80 foot log building was constructed in 1969 as a testimonial to the rugged western life of the old time cowboys who worked as ranch hands and performed at the Sheridan County Rodeo. Exhibits include an early chuck wagon, old saddles, chaps, spurs, tools and gear used from early ranches of the late 1880s to modern times, as well as many other artifacts and relics pertaining to ranching and cowboys. The museum is open every afternoon from June 1 through September 15, and by request at any time. Admission is free. For more information contact Albert Timm at (308) 282-1119.
Bowring Ranch -
There is a historical museum about Arthur and Eva Bowring, who both served in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is located 30 miles east of Gordon, just north of Merriman. This working ranch lies in a sandhills valley rich in Nebraska history. A newly constructed visitors center houses artifacts and memorabilia of early day ranching and the Bowring's political careers. The ranch is open for tours of the original Bowring home which is filled with antique china and glassware. A visit to the furnished sod house dating back to the 1800s is a step back in time. Owned and operated by the Nebraska State Parks and Game Commission, the tours begin in May and close September 1. Call (308) 684-3428 for more information.
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The Willow Tree Festival -
Held each year on the second weekend in September, this is a two day, outdoor event in the city park. The festival features a large variety of live professional entertainment on two stages and amateur entertainment on a third stage. The event attracts food and craft booths, children’s activities, music for all tastes, mimes, magicians, storytellers, dancers and more.
The Sheridan County Fair and Rodeo -
Held in Gordon each year in August, the weeklong Sheridan County Fair and Rodeo is highly ranked throughout the western United States. The three rodeo events feature bareback riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, plus the "protector of the cowboy" -- the rodeo clown. During the week of the fair there are many more events and activities that the whole family may enjoy. These include the 4-H livestock exhibits and show, events that show off the local cowboys ranching and horsemanship skills, an old-timer cowboy breakfast at the Tri-State Cowboy Museum, a local parade in downtown Gordon, youth and adult dances, a Saturday night stage show featuring nationally known entertainers along with numerous other events. Plan to come and spend the week having nothing but fun.
4th of July -
Each year people gather in Winship Park to have an old fashioned July 4th picnic in the park, and at dusk there is a large fireworks display at the county fairgrounds.
Lavaca Country Canoe Outfitters -
You can enjoy a relaxing trip down the Niobrara River through the beautiful, history-filled Sandhills of Nebraska by calling 308-282-0859. Canoe rentals, tube rentals, car shuttles, guide service and picnic lunches are available.
Horse-Thief Cave Ranch -
It's more than just a bed & breakfast! You can relax in the serene Niobrara River valley in the beautiful hills of northwest Nebraska just 17 miles from Gordon. Observe golden eagles, wild turkeys, orioles, wood ducks, avocets and many other species. Horse-Thief Cave used by the gentleman bandit "Doc" Middleton and other outlaws and Indians, is located in one of the canyons. Arrowhead hunters with a sharp eye frequently are delighted with their finds. Hikers have easy access via a foot bridge for three large wooded canyons with spring-fed streams to explore. Hike quietly, and you may spy white-tailed deer, bobcats, raccoons, porcupines, coyotes and other wildlife. For more information phone 308-282-1017.
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation -
The Oglala Sioux Tribe is the governing body for a 50 by 100 mile area that borders Sheridan County on the North. The tribe has its own tribal chairman, council, public safety commission, courts, school system and college. It is also divided into nine political sub-districts with their own chairmen and a District Planning Commission. The tribe's department of tourism can give information on events and points of interest by calling (605) 867-1285. In 1994, the Pine Ridge Reservation opened its popular Prairie Winds Casino. Along with gaming tables and slot machines, the tribal authorities are planning additions to their casino in the form of restaurants and motels.
Gordon Golf and Country Club -
You will be challenged by a tough nine-hole grass greens course, "the best in the west," located on the west edge of town. Several tournaments are sponsored during the season. Youth activities are important at the club and visitors are always welcome. Call (308) 282-1146 for more information.
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Junior Sandhills Wrestling offers this sport to the younger set. It is an out-of-school organization, with young men from the entire area taking part in wrestling meets and competing for championship awards.
T-ball, baseball and softball is played on three city ball fields during the summer months and league teams play competitive ball with surrounding communities. Volleyball is also played locally and competitively.
Fishing for northern, crappie, perch, pike, walleye, bass and trout at Shell Lake Wildlife Preserve just 15 miles northeast of Gordon, Cottonwood Lake 30 minutes east of Gordon, the Snake River and Larrabee Creek, will give fishermen hours of enjoyment.
All types of boating, swimming, canoeing, ice skating in season and other water sports can be enjoyed at most of our lakes and rivers.
Deer, antelope, turkey, grouse, pheasant, duck and dove are locally abundant for the hunter.
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Hacienda Motel -
Located on West Highway 20, the Hacienda Motel has 23 spacious rooms, individually heated and air conditioned. Their accommodations also include cable television, direct dial telephones, restaurant and lounge. 308-282-1400
Western Sands Motel -
Located at 107 West Highway 20,Gordon, Nebraska. The Western Sands Motel has 19 units, newly remodeled in 1999, air conditioned rooms, direct dial phones, cable/Showtime. Cabins for large groups, Hunters welcome, Pets welcome. Food service and a convenience store are close by. 308-282-1795Fax: 308-282-0807
Jefco Inn -
Located on Highway 20, the Jefco Inn has 22 individually heated and air conditioned rooms. These accommodations also include cable television with Showtime, direct dial telephones, conference rooms, and a spa. The Inn serves continental breakfast seven days a week. 308-282-2935
Horse Thief Cave Ranch -
Canoe or tube trips on the river and hunting in season. Horse-Thief Cave, located in one of the small canyons on the ranch, is where old-timers claim “Doc” Middleton, an old west gentleman bandit, hid from the cavalry and the Oglala Sioux Indians. Phone 308-282-1017 or visit their web page at Horse-Thief Cave Ranch - Retreat
The Twisted Pine Ranch -
Lodging and guided hunting in the Niobrara river area. 308-282-3482
Wakpamni Bed and Breakfast -
Gives the visitor a chance to visit with the Oglala Sioux Native Americans and experience the flavor of "Cowboy and Indian" country! Phone: 605-288-1800, fax: 605-288-1868 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their Web page at www.wakpamni-bnb.base.org.
Tomahawk Park -
Tomahawk Park is available for recreational vehicles and campers. 308-282-2176 or 308-282-0329.
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