History of Palisade, Nebraska
Palisade had an unusual beginning because it started it two different locations. It first began in 1879 by Samuel L. True. He built a store near the Bobtail Creek, close to where it joins the Frenchman River. He came up with the name, Palisade due to the bluffs in the area and also because there used to be an old palisade, or stockade nearby that was built by the army. Even though the town consisted of only his family of five, True was made Postmaster in 1880. Over the next few years, Palisade began to grow. Then after learning that the Burlington Railroad was coming, True bought more land that he believed would be near the planned route. He missed the railroad by about half a mile. Instead, Ira Potter and Charles Parker sold their land to the Lincoln Land Company, and it was platted as “New Palisade”. By 1887, all of the buildings from the original site had been moved to the new location. Afterwards, it was learned that the town resided in both Hitchcock and Hayes Counties. More businesses, a newspaper and a bank also joined Palisade.
The 1880s was a boom, but the 1890s was a time of panic. The work on the railroad was temporarily discontinued. Then in 1892-93, the Frenchman Valley Irrigation Project began and the valley farmers
began irrigating their crops. With both the water supply guaranteed and the railroad in place, Palisade continued to grow.
In 1911, F.C. Krotter installed two turbine generators on a
diversion dam on the Frenchman River. Electricity came to Palisade and this was a significant step in Palisade’s development.
Palisade grew the most during the 1920s. It grew to include five churches plus numerous shops and
The stock market crash and dust bowl of the 30s brought hard times to Palisade as it did with most of the country. But, in 1931
F.C. Krotter helped develop a 12 acre park which included a lighted ball field, tennis court, picnic area and an extra large
swimming pool. The pool held over a million gallons of water and for years was the largest in the state. However, in 1983 the large pool was removed and replaced with a newer and smaller pool and brought up to current standards.
In the 1940s, Palisade had a prisoner of war
camp. It was populated mostly with Germans who also helped with corn picking. They were remembered for singing while they worked.
In 1945, South West Public Power was formed and established its headquarters in Palisade. They moved into their present building in 1950 and proceeded to get an $800,000.00 loan to build and acquire an electric system that today covers portions of five counties and covers about 2,600 square miles.
Palisade’s highest population of 800 residents was reached in 1950. The town had hardware stores, lumber yards, three grocery stores, dry goods, appliance stores, clothing stores, a movie theater and four gas stations, plus doctors, attorneys, drug stores and other professional services.
In the late 1960s, oil was discovered in the area, but the population began to decline. Presently it has a population of 386. Palisade still has
k-fourth grade, with the
rest of the grades attending Wauneta, 15 miles to the West and on a different time
Presently Palisade has a yearly celebration called Pioneer Days which began nearly 25 years ago. It is held on the second weekend in June. They have many events over a three day weekend including a dance, parade, BBQ, volley ball games, kid’s games, and alumni dinner and more.
It was a sad day for Palisade, but after 101 years, the Frenchman Valley Bank closed in 1988, that was followed by AmFirst bank opening a branch facility. However, when the bank decided to close the branch, the spirit of fighting on continued and Palisade opened the
Pioneer Federal Credit Union in 2003 and is thriving today.
Palisade boasts a Park and Library that are second to none. The park has been renovated on an annual basis and has modern playground and facilities. The
Library continues to renovate itself every year and has computers,
wi-fi, and e-Books on a 24/7 basis for those that are techno savvy, and reading clubs with coffee and cookies for the not so technologically inclined.
The population has declined, but today Palisade is known as peaceful and a great place to raise kids. People come together to have benefits for other members in need and are constantly reaching out to help each other.
Sources for this article;
JoAnn Ward, resident of Palisade
“The Palisade Times,” 1921, 1924, and 1937 editions
Excerpts from the files of Paul Riley, library copies
Village of Palisade files, courtesy of Betty Hunt, previous clerk
Don Suda, resident and former General Manager of SWPPD