From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rose, Nebraska

A "wide spot in the road" is fading away



Rose, Nebraska, in 2000Rose, Nebraska, in 2000. Trading Post (left),
livestock feed shed, and machine shop (right)


My address, when I was growing up, was Rose, Nebraska. Rose is on Highway 183, more or less midway in the 60 miles between Bassett and Taylor, Nebraska.

When I was little (1950s), the blacktop road from Bassett ended just south of the Rose Trading Post, and the next 30 miles to Taylor were gravel road. A couple of miles after the road turned to gravel, it passed Grandpa and Grandma (Gilbert and Christina) Swinney's house, which was the Rose post office.

By the time I was 10 or so (early 1960s), Highway 183 was paved all the way from Bassett to Taylor. Not long after that, Grandma Swinney retired as postmistress, and the post office was moved from her house to the Rose Trading Post.

After acquiring the post office, the Trading Post earned the honor of having the "Rose" highway sign there also. It always read, "Rose, population 2."

Rose was in its heyday during the time that I was growing up. The store sold groceries and necessities, livestock feed, and gasoline. Another building housed the Swanson Brothers' machine repair shop. (They moved their operation to Bassett around 1960.)

The Rose Community Hall was located just north of the Trading Post, and it was used for dances, 4-H and extension club meetings, Thanksgiving potlucks and Christmas programs, and as a polling place during elections.

We lived about four and a half miles west of Rose, as the crow flies. We could have driven through pastures, but by real roads, it was about eight miles. I looked forward to my mother going to the Rose store because I might be able to talk her into buying me some bubble gum or perhaps even a bottle of pop.

When Mike and Mildred Riley were running the Rose Trading Post, Mildred had a beauty shop in a room between the store and the living quarters. My Grandma Nora liked to go there to have her hair done, and I remember going with her to have a perm put in my hair once, courtesy of Grandma.

About 1970, several rural schools in the area consolidated and built a community school at Rose. I believe my sister-in-law Kathy taught there the first year that the Rose School opened. She was young and single, and she boarded with my parents. She and my brother became interested in each other, and the rest is history. They've been married for around 35 years now.

The last few decades have been hard on Rose. Population in the county has decreased, and Rose has been one of the casualties. I don't know if Rose still gets a dot on the Nebraska map or not, but it won't completely vanish as long as the school is there.

Rose NebraskaThe community hall is still there, too, and it's probably still used for some of the same events that I remember attending there.

The Trading Post has closed. The machine shop has, I believe, stood empty since the Swanson Brothers moved out.

The post office was located in the community hall for a while, but now it has closed permanently. You can still address a letter to Rose, but the Bassett post office handles that zip code.

Cowboy poet Baxter Black gave Rose a bit of immortality in "Sandhills Savior", a poem about the windmills in the Nebraska Sandhills.

... From Thedford to Hyannis, from Valentine to Rose
Across that sandy country where the prairie grass still grows
You'll see those man-made daisies, silhouettes against the sky
Their steel petals gleaming on their stalks eighteen feet high...


Rose, Nebraska

15 comments:

ptg said...

Don't blink or you will miss the town. Some wide spot!

Mark said...

Is it better for a place like Rose to slowly disappear into our memories, or for it to grow into something entirely different and, probably, not quite as good as we remember?

Genevieve said...

PT, is that Rose? It surely must be! The buildings seem to be in the correct places. I guess that's an irrigated quarter just to the south. The trees are a lot bigger than I remember -- I suppose that's not surprising. Thanks for posting that.

Genevieve said...

Mark, I don't know the answer except this -- nothing stays the same. There are probably a dozen or more little Sandhill post offices and stores that have already faded into oblivion between Bassett and Taylor Nebraska. Rose hung on for a long time because of its location on the highway.

ptg said...

When I read interesting descriptions of places, I like to look them up on Google Earth. Rose is tiny, its not even a crossroads.

I don't think Google Earth will work on anything but a high-speed internet connection. If you ever want an "aerial" of a place, just let me know where.

Not everyplace out in the boondocks is covered with high resolution imagery, but it is easy to look.

Genevieve said...

I will keep that in mind, PT. Thanks again.

When writing about Rose, I should also have mentioned the Rose Church. It is located a couple of miles north and several (4?) miles east of the Trading Post. In the days of the old gravel highway, it would have been just a couple of miles off the highway, but the blacktop road followed a somewhat different route.

When I was growing up, the Rose Church was Evangelical United Brethern (EUB) in denomination, and later the EUB merged with the Methodists.

When I drove by there about three years ago, the little church looked just like it always did. However,
I am quite sure that regular services aren't held there anymore.

Heartaday said...

I'm an Iowan but I've driven out through that part of Nebraska, probably even Rose, more than once. I think it is absolutely beautiful country. I love the way the ponds are set like sapphires in the Sandhills. And the thrill of the summer afternoon supercell thunderstorms.

I am an unusual Iowan. :)

John Ruberry said...

I've been through Ainsworth, Neligh Cherry County, and Broken Bow, but I've missed Rose.

But I found it here:

http://www.hometownlocator.com/City/Rose-Nebraska.cfm

Genevieve said...

Heartaday, thanks for visiting. I swear I've answered your comment, but somehow, it must not have "taken." The internet was probably being sluggish at the time. Ugh, I hate dial-up. Yes, the Sandhill lakes are really beautiful, especially out south of Valentine and Gordon. In some areas, there's a lake over every ridge of hills. Some are alkaline, because there's no outlet for the water.

Genevieve said...

Hi, John. Thanks for the link. It doesn't say much, but there isn't much to say. :)

I was born in Ainsworth, and Valentine was within my range of occasional childhood travel. I've been to Broken Bow a number of times, too, but not within recent years. Broken Bow had a fire not long ago that destroyed some of the historic downtown. I was sure sorry about that.

Mike Schubert said...

Rose Ne. what memories.... a few years ago, after taking my son to Kansas to catch a ride back to Texas to school, I got caught in a Nebraska snow storm, and had to "camp-out" at Rose.....for 36 hours in my pickup! Lucky for me, I had lots of fuel and food, but the memories of our younger days, from church to 4H to NC. The Rose store has had a 4-sale sign on the window for a couple years now, the school is still going,we buried Dad at the Rose cemetery last year, and I was very impressed how the area folks have kept it all up. I didn't mean to rite a book here but thanks for your blog.

Genevieve said...

Mike! It's nice to see you on the blog! Oh my gosh, I can't imagine sitting in a pickup truck at Rose for 36 hours with a blizzard swirling around me -- but I'm proud of you for having the good sense to be well prepared for an emergency.

I remember coming home from Taylor after dark one time, before the highway was blacktop through there, and it was snowing and blowing like crazy. The snowflakes were a million arrows in the headlights, and there was starting to be drifts across the road. There weren't any tracks to follow, and we could just barely see the tops of some weeds now and then to let us know where the ditches were. I'm sure my mom and dad were glad when we got home that night.

Genevieve said...

Mike, I thought the same thing about the Duff Cemetery when I visited it about 5 years ago -- it was quite well cared-for, considering its remote location. It speaks well for the residents of those communities, I think.

Kndrlnd.AK said...

My dad's family is from Rose. My grandpa's name was Art Roggasch. We moved to Anchorage, Alaska when I was little, (1974), but my dad used to tell me to tell anyone who asked, I was from Rose. Glad I found your blog!

Genevieve said...

When people say they are from Rose, they mean that they're from the south end of Rock County. There's not much at Rose. :) I hope you get to visit your grandpa's ranch there someday.

Art Roggasch lived five or six miles from us by the road. We had land on Bloody Creek that bordered against his land on the east side. I was a first grader when we moved to Duff Valley, and Regina Roggasch was my teacher for the rest of that year. Don Roggasch was in my brother's grade, five years older than me.

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