Help Us
Restore the Bull Ditch



Save The Historic Town
of Maxwell, Nebraska


Historic Downtown Maxwell, Nebraska
W. H. Merrick & Co. in the foreground.
The hotel is the farthest away.


In response to the article:

____________________________________________________________________________________

by Mark Young, The North Platte Telegraph ----------------------December 31, 2007
____________________________________________________________________

"Bull Ditch at root of problem."

In the article it reads,

"When five to six inches of rain fell upon the Maxwell area last spring, an ongoing standing water issue became a flooding issue."

"Representatives of the Village Board of Directors presented their concerns at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, at the regular Dec. 31 meeting."

“When we were here last July in regards to the May flooding due to extensive rains we pointed out a lot of areas that were suspect hoping the county would help us improve that situation,” said Randy Stubbs, board vice-chairman for the Village of Maxwell."

"Stubbs said that since last summer, the Village has done what it can to improve the situation of maintaining existing culverts, but that two primary problems remain. One of which is that there are no existing culverts from north of Maxwell all the way up to White Horse Creek, according to Rodney Reynolds, from the Village Board."

"Secondly, is “Bull Ditch,”that the Bull Ditch which begins well north of Maxwell, turns south into Maxwell and continues to run through the Village and eventually empties into the Platte River."

The Bull Ditch was constructed by a cooperative to stop the town of Maxwell from flooding -NOT to "Run through the Village" as it now does. Another purpose of the Bull Ditch was to permit people to get to North Platte to shop rather than the only other route at the time to North Platte by way of State Farm Rd. at the edge of the hills several miles south of Maxwell. This was long before highway 30. It also made it possible to make highway 30.
The Bull Ditch was built to divert the swampy area west of Maxwell where it would flood the town and surrounding areas when rain and the spring thaws would flood the town, keeping the water west of Maxwell, sending the water straight south, down the Bull Ditch to the Platte River without going through the town of Maxwell. We need this Bull Ditch restored!

The Bull Ditch starts north of Highway 30 west of town where natural springs, rain and spring thaws bring down water from the Sandhills. It should then run straight south into the Platte River, bypassing the village, not running through the village as the article states.

It would help the village of Maxwell to restore the Bull Ditch so as not to flood the town. It was a huge undertaking to construct the Bull Ditch using teams of Oxen and many men on foot. Two teams of 24 oxen each chained together and 6 to 8 men each controlled 3 or 4 teams spread out along the line as the 36 tons of oxen muscle leaned against the yokes, a ditch curled away from the plow.

Can't Lincoln County bring out some heavy machinery where a few men can sit in a heated or air conditioned cab with the stereo keeping them company and restore the ditch to it's rightful purpose by just pulling a few levers?

Article states, "According to District Two Commissioner Duane Deterding, there are multiple agencies that may have control over this situation, from Union Pacific to the Natural Resources Department to the private landowners. But the problem, according to Commissioner and Chairman Joe Hewgley, is more about legalities."

According to Nebraska Law, Nebraska Code, Nebraska Chapter 31 — Drainage
Section 31-101 Ditches; drains; watercourses; county board; powers.

The county board of any county may, at any regular or special session, cause to be located and constructed, straightened, widened, altered, or deepened, any ditch, drain or watercourse, as hereinafter provided, when the same is necessary to drain any lots, lands, public or corporate road, or railroad, and will be conducive to the public health, convenience or welfare.

Yes, there are multiple agencies that may have control over this situation, but before the Union Pacific or other agencies would put in much needed culverts etc. the Bull Ditch would need to be restored, otherwise the added water brought down the opened culverts would create an even greater problem with more water heading into the town of Maxwell with no where to go.

Article states, “I’m very hesitant about going on private ground when it comes to water issues,” said Hewgley. “Statutorily, we don’t have the authority to do that.”

Chapter 31 — Drainage - Section 31-202.01 Watercourses; obstructions; power of county board.
In all counties the county board shall have the power to cause all natural watercourses to be kept clean and free of obstructions.

The Bull Ditch was constructed by a cooperative to stop the town of Maxwell from flooding. As such it would have been required to have an easement. Thus it could not be a problem to the landowners.

Chapter 31 — Drainage - Section 31-932
Drainage district; dissolution; right-of-way interest becomes property of county.
Upon dissolution of any drainage district, the right-of-way interest of such drainage district shall pass to and become the property of the county where located.

Article states, "Hewgley also said there would be issues with the state in attempting to manipulate a natural waterway, but agreed to send the county surveyor out to determine whether or not Bull Ditch is even running downhill."

Article states, “This is a 100-year-old ditch,” he said. “For all we know it could have been dug going uphill.”

The ditch was not built to send the water back UP HILL into the Sandhills. My family was here when it was built. The grade was true. It has been neglected and forgotten for so many years that it has filled in and been diverted with another ditch, concrete, railroad ties, silt, Phragmite and other noxious weeds and a large muskrat or beaver dam along highway 30. The dam was removed last fall by the county but was fully restored within the week.

As these topographic maps show the water does indeed run down hill.

The Bull Ditch's main purpose was to save the village of Maxwell from flooding. The problem was solved back then when the ditch was constructed. Which anyone could figure out sent the water DOWN HILL TO THE RIVER! Otherwise the river would have been backed up into the village of Maxwell. We don't need it to be surveyed. We need it RESTORED! They surveyed it when the ditch was being planned to find the best way to divert the water. The Union Pacific Railroad had surveyors then - where they not competent then?

Article states, "Since it is not part of the surveyor’s job, Hewgley said the surveyor would have to be willing to do it, but the commissioners agreed that they would ask. Even if it is determined that Bull Ditch is pushing water backwards due to its faulty grade, it is unclear what more the county can do considering the complexities of who is responsible for maintaining the ditch."

Chapter 31 — Drainage - Section 31-202.01 Watercourses; obstructions; power of county board.
In all counties the county board shall have the power to cause all natural watercourses to be kept clean and free of obstructions.

We do appreciate Mark Young's article that brings attention to our village flooding plight:

Below is the complete article in regards to the Bull Ditch:
Found at - http://www.nptelegraph.com/site/news.cfm?dept_id=601696&PAG=461&newsid=19159451&xb=jejiq


THE BULL DITCH
These oxen were used to make a ditch to drain the swamp area west of town- the ditch now called 'Bull Ditch.' The 48 oxen teams pulled huge lister plows thru the swamp. The owner and driver was a man named Moore - not a local man. In one place the plow sank and had to be dug out.
(This information was written on the back of the photograph by my Grandmother, Inez Huntington, who was there.)

 


Save Our Historic Lincoln County Town
Where there are Several Historic Landmarks.

This was the first Officers Quarters at Fort McPherson.
Later a bigger Officers Quarters was built, they used the first Officers Quarters as the Fort's General Store.
Below the same Officers Quarters after the square logs were numbered, disassembled,
and moved into the town of Maxwell in 1897 where it was reassembled on it's present location.
Where the historic town of Maxwell has been allowed to flood due to neglect.

'The Loggy'

The loggy is the oldest building in the county.
It was built at Fort McPherson
before the railroad came to town.
The railroad came through around 1865.

The building was bought and moved
into town in 1897.
The square logs were numbered
and the building was totally disassembled.
It was reassembled where it still stands today.

It has been stuccoed over on the outside,
but the logs can still be seen from the inside
if you know where to look.
The newly moved building was bought
for a general store.



"W.H. Merrick & Co.'s first building from south."
"Back of building."
(Was written on the back of picture by my grandmother)

1906

The Inside of W. H. Merrick & Co.
The original loggy. Located in Maxwell, Nebraska
Before electricity came to town. Note the gas lights.


History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its themes, to revive its echoes and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.

-Sir Winston Spencer Churchill-



Old Time Photographs &
History of the Village of Maxwell, Nebraska
View More Photo of Our Historic Loggy from Fort McPherson

 



Click Here To See More
Old Time Photographs & History of Maxwell, Nebraska


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We do appreciate Mark Young's article that brings attention to our village flooding plight:

Below is the complete article in regards to the Bull Ditch:
Found at - http://www.nptelegraph.com/site/news.cfm?dept_id=601696&PAG=461&newsid=19159451&xb=jejiq

12/31/2007
*Bull Ditch at root of problem *
By Mark Young , The North Platte Telegraph

When five to six inches of rain fell upon the Maxwell area last spring, an ongoing standing water issue became a flooding issue.

Representatives of the Village Board of Directors presented their concerns at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, at the regular Dec. 31 meeting.

“When we were here last July in regards to the May flooding due to extensive rains we pointed out a lot of areas that were suspect hoping the county would help us improve that situation,” said Randy Stubbs, board vice-chairman for the Village of Maxwell.

Stubbs said that since last summer, the Village has done what it can to improve the situation of maintaining existing culverts, but that two primary problems remain. One of which is that there are no existing culverts from north of Maxwell all the way up to White Horse Creek, according to Rodney Reynolds, from the Village Board.

Secondly, is “Bull Ditch,” which begins well north of Maxwell, turns south into Maxwell and continues to run through the Village and eventually empties into the Platte River. The ditch is so named because it was carved out by oxen a century ago. It is being eyed now as the primary concern for future flooding issues, in combination with existing culverts that Stubbs said appeared to be inadequate. The existing culverts run underneath the railroad tracks and the improvements that were made to Highway 30.

“We are asking for assistance from the county and I know when most people hear assistance, they think money,” said Stubbs. “We are not necessarily asking for money. We are asking for any kind of assistance you can give us even if it’s putting pressure on any associated entity that controls Bull Ditch. We are asking, ‘What can the county do?’”
Apparently, very little.

According to District Two Commissioner Duane Deterding, there are multiple agencies that may have control over this situation, from Union Pacific to the Natural Resources Department to the private landowners. But the problem, according to Commissioner and Chairman Joe Hewgley, is more about legalities.

“I’m very hesitant about going on private ground when it comes to water issues,” said Hewgley. “Statutorily, we don’t have the authority to do that.”

Hewgley also said there would be issues with the state in attempting to manipulate a natural waterway, but agreed to send the county surveyor out to determine whether or not Bull Ditch is even running downhill.

“This is a 100-year-old ditch,” he said. “For all we know it could have been dug going uphill.”

Since it is not part of the surveyor’s job, Hewgley said the surveyor would have to be willing to do it, but the commissioners agreed that they would ask. Even if it is determined that Bull Ditch is pushing water backwards due to its faulty grade, it is unclear what more the county can do considering the complexities of who is responsible for maintaining the ditch.

Maxwell does have an existing Ditch Board, but the board gets no funding. Stubbs said it is crucial to the Village of Maxwell that this area of concern gets attention as soon as possible. Who will give the problem the necessary attention remains an unanswered question.

 


 

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