Nebraska State Historical Society Blog

Marker Monday: Oketo Cutoff

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6646-7498 Nebraska 112, Odell, Gage County, Nebraska View this marker's location 40.045913, -96.81370

Marker Text

From October 1862 until March 1863 stagecoaches of the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express passed near here along the Oketo Cutoff. The cutoff diverged from the Ft. Leavenworth to Ft. Kearny Military Road northeast of Marysville, Kansas, angled northwest to cross the Big Blue River near Oketo, Kansas, and passed through the Otoe Indian Reservation and land that would be the short-lived village of Charleston, just south of the later site of Odell, Nebraska. The cutoff rejoined the main trail between Steele City and Diller, Nebraska. Express company owner Ben Holladay, who had the government contract to carry mail and passengers from the Missouri River to California, ordered the cutoff laid out at an estimated cost of $50,000, producing a shorter, better road and bypassing Marysville after the town refused to improve the Military Road. Although Holladay's coaches used the Oketo cutoff, freighters' and other travelers continued to follow the Military Road, which had been popular since the late 1840s. After only a few months Holladay abandoned the cutoff, although the road may have seen continued use.

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