Why Sidney Gold Rush Days?

Was gold ever found near Sidney, Nebraska?   NO!  Gold deposits in Nebraska are very sparse.  In Western Nebraska, the only gold we have is very fine placer gold that has been carried long distances from the gold country mostly from Colorado with some coming from Wyoming.    So, why do we commemorate Sidney Gold Rush Days?   Because the Union Pacific Railroad was in Sidney.   Miners and prospectors would ride the train to Sidney and then travel overland to the Black Hills via the Sidney Black Hills Stage Road.   Competing with the Sidney Black Hills Stage Road was the Cheyenne-Black Hills Stage Route than ran from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Deadwood, South Dakota.   It wasn’t until 1887 that the Black Hills were linked by rail to the rest of the country when the now abandoned Cowboy Line railroad in northern Nebraska was built.   Not many miners or prospectors got rich on gold in the Black Hills, but outfitting them and supplying services to them was a much more lucrative business that helped Sidney grow.

The Beginning of Sidney Gold Rush Days

Back in the early years of this century, Mr. Joel Birner would go into Larry’s Clothing to enjoy a cup of coffee with Larry Fraas.  The topic of celebration to take the place of the former “Fort Sidney Days” came up often.  One Saturday they committed themselves to such a celebration and came up with the name of “Sidney Gold Rush Days”.  Unfortunately, Joel died before they were able to hold the first celebration.

The first event was held between 10th & 11th on Jackson Street as an attempt to promote the downtown area.  It was a hot, calm day and they suffered being by the brick buildings.   The second year, it was moved to Legion Park.

Fortunately, Pastor Ray Stokes, John Vera, quick draw queen Leslie Merlino (Bush), Dona and Larry Fraas, Amy Hackelman, Tyler Bailey, and KJ Bush formed a group that made the original event successful and kept the celebration alive for many years.  As the years went by, the reins have been passed on to numerous other civic minded people dedicated to keeping the festival alive, well, and growing.

Sidney Stage Line