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Southern Jog



Underground Railroad

While you are stopped, learn about Nebraska's First Oil Well

Falls City, Nebraska; Richardson County

Underground Railroad: The Dorrington House and Barn

The Underground Railroad was a secret organization that operated in the United States before the Civil War. Their mission was to help enslaved people escape the South and find safety and freedom in Northern states or Canada. Code words were used to disguise the routes and hiding places along the way. The secret network was organized by “conductors” and hiding places on the line were called “stations.” The Railroad had to remain secret since it was against the law. Most routes ended in Canada and the Railroad’s activities ended with the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

The Dorrington Building in Falls City, Nebraska, is a designated National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom It was constructed on the site of the home of David and Ann Dorrington. The Dorringtons’ house and barn were used as a “station” on the most western line of the underground railroad. David had a contract with the government to transport mail between Falls City and Topeka, Kansas. Dorrington’s mail carriers, which included two of his sons, used mail wagons to transport enslaved people out of Kansas to the Dorrington barn. There, they remained under the care of Ann Dorrington until they could safely continue north at night.








While you are stopped, learn about the First Oil Well 

The first reported discovery of oil in Nebraska was in 1883. A newspaper reported that a “vein of petroleum” was found in Richardson County. Over the next 57 years, hundreds of wells were drilled across Nebraska looking for oil. The search for oil cost thousands of dollars, with no success. Searchers found small amounts of oil across the state, but not to build an oil well. An oil well is a hole in the earth dug to bring oil to the surface. Nebraska did not have an oil well until 1940.

The Nebraska Legislature offered $15,000 for the first oil well in the state. It had to produce at least 50 barrels of oil a day for sixty days. The Pawnee Royalty Company tried to drill two oil wells near Falls City but failed. They drilled a third well, known as Bucholz No. 1, on April 22, 1940. On May 29, 1940, the well began producing and averaged 169-1/2 barrels a day.

Bucholz No. 1 was located about five miles east of the “vein of petroleum” reported in 1883. Today most of Nebraska’s oil is produced in the southwestern panhandle. It is a major contribution to Nebraska’s economy.

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