Jim McKee: A legacy of names in southwest Lincoln

October 7, 2018

Southwest of Lincoln lie a number of settlements today known universally as Yankee Hill, but as they grew, they had a number of names including Lomax and Skovyville. Some of the villages prospered and supported post offices, hotels, churches, race tracks, stockyards, parks, a paper mill and a state hospital.

These community names included Saline City, Burnham and Stockwell. Surviving relics include Yankee Hill Brickyard, Wilderness Park, numerous houses, a church, the Regional Center and the Outpost Tavern. Interestingly all of these locations cover only a couple of square miles but very nearly became the first capital of the state of Nebraska.

The earliest extant structure is a house built by John Cadman north of the Oregon Trail Cutoff during Nebraska’s pre-statehood days, on the south side of West Calvert Street which was first called Old Cinder Road.

Although Cadman operated a ranch/trail station on Salt Creek south of about 24th and Saltillo Road, when the Calvert house was later owned by veterinarian Grant Ackerman, remnants of a stone fireplace were discovered in the dredging of a pond on the southwest corner of 1st and Calvert streets which was believed to be the site of a trading post/stable north of the Steam Wagon Road which crossed Salt Creek at Pioneers Boulevard.

While seeking a site for the first state capital of Nebraska, the Cadman house was where part of the Capital Commission stayed July 20-22 and July 27, 1867, ultimately choosing the village of Lancaster two miles northeast of the house which the commission noted was located in “Saline City or Yankee Hill.”

Confusingly a much later description says Saline City was established by Wescott Field south of Yankee Hill where Salt Creek was crossed by the Steam Wagon Road while another puts Saline City north of Calvert/Old Cinder Road. The latter would describe the site of the present Regional Center, numerous houses and the Outpost Tavern directly to the east of the hospital.

The Capital Removal Act of 1867 set aside 160 acres of land about two miles southwest of Lincoln for a State Insane Asylum. Joseph Ward, having just completed the state capitol, received the $128,000 construction job which was completed in December of 1870. This land was north of Old Cinder Road/Calvert Street and ran from Coddington on the west to Folsom on the east and became more universally known as Saline City while the land south of Calvert became Yankee Hill.

Much of Yankee Hill itself was known for a time as Burnham when the brickyard was established on the west side of Coddington Street. During this period stockyards adjacent to the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad on the east side of Coddington, south of Van Dorn and North of Calvert streets were said to be located in Stockwell. Stockwell might be considered the western portion of Yankee Hill. Burnham, which even had a post office from 1889 to 1910, also in the southwestern corner of Yankee Hill, had a depot inexplicably called Cob Junction.

As the Insane Asylum/State Hospital grew, the community to its east grew and at least to some of the folks living there it became, for reasons never made clear, known as Skovyville. To its east a paper mill, and an 80-acre horse racing track came and went and with Epworth and Electric Parks came a trolley connection to Lincoln which charged five cents each way. This line had two forks, one serving the parks and one Saline City. It would have seemed natural for it to have been a connection ending inside the asylum/hospital grounds, but such was not the case.

Two small grocery/general stores existed side by side and directly east of the hospital on Folsom Street. Shamp’s Store sold groceries and everything except “clothing or dry goods.” The store was small, about 15 by 25 feet and bought their stock from Raymond Brothers or Graningers and their meat from Voight’s Meat Market in Lincoln.

Shamp’s Store, once also operated by George Blakely, was razed for a parking lot about the time the trolley car service began, allowing the trolley, which arrived from the north on Folsom, to circle the larger, remaining store, then return to Lincoln. This remaining store may have begun life as a house as it had a wrap-around porch, while the second floor was home to Greg Lambert, Jim Berl(s), Tim Maloney and the Sidel family, all of which operated the store through the years.

One of the things which made the store successful was six or eight and as many as 20 patients would come at one time, from the hospital with an attendant to buy supplies and ice cream cones. Through the years the store, on Brick Row in Yankee Hill had also closed leaving only the one on Folsom.

Greg Lambert (Lambers) closed the grocery store, added on and established the extant Outpost Tavern.

Although most visitors call the entire area Yankee Hill, there are still a few who know the Lomax horse track sat almost exactly where Salt Creek was straightened and diverted east of 1st Street in the northeast quarter of Section 3 in Yankee Hill Precinct but it would be unlikely to find anyone who could point out exactly where Skovyville was located.

Lincoln buildings that have made history

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