George Ward Holdrege, 1847-1926 [RG3473.AM]


RG3473.AM:  George Ward Holdrege, 1847-1926

Papers:  1878-1934

Omaha, Douglas County, Neb.:  Railroad official

Size:  12 boxes; 7.0 cu.ft.


George Ward Holdrege was born in New York City on March 26, 1847, a son of Henry Jr., and Mary Grennell Holdrege. His father was a merchant of the city of New York, but later established the family home at Irving-on-Hudson, New York. George Holdrege attended Harvard and was a member of the crew team in 1867 and 1868. He graduated in 1869.

After graduation, Holdrege moved to Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and was employed as a railroad clerk for the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company. He advanced steadily, serving as assistant paymaster, brakeman, conductor, trainmaster and assistant superintendent. In 1882 he was appointed general manager of the Omaha office of the Burlington. During his career, the Nebraska lines of the railroad expanded from 495 miles to 4713 miles. Major lines included the completion of a line from Grand Island through the Sand Hills to Sheridan, Wyoming and later in 1894 to Billings, Montana; the penetration of the Black Hills of South Dakota; and a line which extended from Alliance, Nebraska to the Big Horn Basin.

On February 12, 1872, Holdrege married Emily Cabot Atkinson at Boston, Massachusetts. Her death, on February 16, 1873, followed the birth of a son, Henry Atkinson Holdrege. In Omaha on April 23, 1878, George was married to Francis Rodgers Kimball. They became the parents of three daughters: Mrs. Mary Holdrege Holyoke; Mrs. Susan Holdrege Hollister; and Leeta Holdrege.

George Holdrege extensively invested in Nebraska land. He owned the famous HO ranch in Perkins County and upon retirement bought another ranch on the White River, near Chadron, Nebraska. As pioneers began to settle along the land areas newly opened up by the Burlington lines, Mr. Holdrege became convinced that the railroad should become active in increasing the agricultural production of the area it served. To this end, the railroad developed an experimental farm, irrigation service, and free transportation of the grain produced to market. He hired Hardy Campbell, a dry farming expert, as agricultural agent for the Burlington Railroad.

Upon his retirement on December 31, 1920, he was lauded for his pioneer efforts. Long publicly recognized as a central figure in legislative debates in Nebraska, Mr. Holdrege was awarded a “service medal” by the Lincoln Kiwanis Club in 1925. The town of Holdrege, in Phelps County, is also named for him. Mr. Holdrege died on September 14, 1926 in Omaha, of a heart attack. Although retired, he had remained active in railroad affairs.


The collection consists of manuscript material arranged in seven series: 1) Correspondence, 1876-1934, and undated; 2) Biographical; 3) Land Development Notebook; 4) Financial, Land, and Legal Material; 5) Newspaper Clippings; 6) Maps; 7) Land Circulars; 8) Printed materials; and 9) Scrapbooks. Series 1, Correspondence, forms a large portion of the collection. It is divided into eight Subseries: 1) Personal Correspondence with Mrs. Holdrege, 1878-1924; 2-7) Business Correspondence (arranged chronologically); and 8) Business Correspondence and Documents.

Series 2 contains biographical notes on George W. Holdrege’s life and an incomplete copy of a PHD dissertation about Mr. Holdrege by Thomas M Davis. Series 3 consists of a land development notebook. Series 4 includes financial, land, and legal materials. Series 5 contains newspaper clippings about Holdredge and his interests, including items on his Harvard Crew days. Series 6 contains various maps: mining, irrigation, plats, railroads, etc. from Nebraska and neighboring states. Land Circulars from Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado (Denver), and Nebraska form Series 7. Series 8, Printed Materials, is composed mostly of Railroad Rule Books. And finally, Series 9 contains Scrapbooks; two with various railroad materials and one relating to soil and natural resources.

The bulk of the George W. Holdrege collection relates to mining activities, mineral and land prospects, reports and deeds, railroad construction, and agriculture and irrigation in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Much of it is including correspondence with Mrs. Holdrege; deeds and land reports; M.J. Miller; Cambridge and Arapahoe Irrigation and Improvement Company; The Dome Lake Club; Henry Zahn; and the Central Nebraska Water Association.

Note:  See the photo component [RG3473.PH] for related images. See the NSHS Library Catalog and the Nebraska History index for published materials relating to George Holdrege. See RG3508 and RG4064 for records relating to the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad.


Series 1 – Correspondence, 1871-1934

Subseries 1: Personal Correspondence with Mrs. Holdrege, 1878-1924

Box 1


    1. 1878-1879

    1. 1880

    1. 1881

    1. 1882-1883

    1. 1884-1887

    1. 1888

    1. 1889-1890

    1. 1890-1900

    1. 1897-1901

    1. 1902-1904

    1. 1905-1907

    1. 1908

    1. 1909-1911

    1. 1913-1914

    1. 1915

    1. 1916

    1. 1917-1920

    1. 1921-1922

    1. 1923-1924

    1. undated

Box 2


    1. undated a. undated

Subseries 2: Business Correspondence, Irrigation, Mining, and Land, 1887-1896

    1. 1890 Deeds, Business and Land Reports

    1. 1890 Deeds, Business and Land Reports

    1. Mining Rights on Donkee Creek & Clear Creek Wyoming

    1. 1891 Correspondence with M.J. Miller

    1. 1892 Mining Reports (M.J. Miller)

    1. Deeds and Prospectus: South Fork Improvement and Irrigation Co.; Nebraska Irrigation and Improvement Co.

    1. 1887 Report of Mr. Ensign’s Reconnaissance

    1. 1891 Articles of Incorporation: Cambridge and Arapahoe Irrigation & Improvement Co.

    1. 1892-1896 Cambridge & Arapahoe (continued)

Subseries 3: Business Correspondence 1889-1905

Box 3


    1. Dome Lake Club

      a. 1889 Correspondence with Henry Zahn

    1. 1882-1889 Business Correspondence

    1. 1891-1894 Business Correspondence

    1. 1898 (January-August)

    1. 1898 (September-December)

    1. 1899 (January-August)

    1. 1899 (September-December)

    1. 1900

    1. 1901 (January-August)

    1. 1901 (September-December)

    1. 1902 (January-May)

    1. 1902 (June-December)

    1. 1903

    1. 1904 (January-April)

    1. 1904 (May-December)

    1. 1905 (January-April)

Subseries 4: Business Correspondence, 1905-1916

Box 4


    1. 1905 (May-June)

    1. 1905 (July-December)

    1. 1906

    1. 1907

    1. 1908

    1. 1909

    1. 1910

    1. 1911

    1. 1912

    1. 1913

    1. a. 1914 (January-April)

      b. 1914 (May-July)

      c. 1914 (August-December)

    1. 1915 (January-September)

    1. 1915 (October-December)

    1. 1916 (January-April)

Subseries 5: Business Correspondence 1916-1918

Box 5


    1. 1916 (May-July)

    1. 1916 (August)

    1. 1916 (September)

    1. 1916 (October)

    1. 1916 (November)

    1. 1916 (December)

    1. 1917 (January-February)

    1. 1917 (March-December)

    1. 1918 (January-May)

    1. 1918 (June-September)

    1. 1918 (October-December)

Subseries 6: Business Correspondence 1919-1920

Box 6


    1. 1919 (January-April)

    1. 1919 (May-August)

    1. 1919 (September)

    1. 1919 (October-December)

    1. 1920 (January-March)

    1. 1920 (April)

    1. 1920 (May-September)

    1. 1920 (October-December)

    1. 1920 Retirement notices and Letters

Box 7


    1. 1920 Retirement notices and Letters

Subseries 7: Business Correspondence 1921-1926

    1. 1921 (January-April)

    1. 1921 (May-August)

    1. 1921 (September-December)

    1. 1922 (January-March)

    1. 1922 (April-June)

    1. 1922 (July-December)

    1. 1923

    1. 1924-1925

    1. 1926

    1. 1926 Central Nebraska Supplemental Water Association

    1. 1926 Correspondence following the death of Mr. Holdrege

Subseries 8: Business Correspondence and Documents, n.d.

Box 8


    1. Business Correspondence, n.d.

    1. Legal Documents, n.d.

Series 2 – Biographical

    1. Biographical profile on George W Holdrege

    1. Biographical notes on George W Holdrege

    1. Biographical notes on George W Holdrege

    1. Biographical notes on George W Holdrege

    1. Incomplete copy of George W. Holdrege a PHD Dissertation by Thomas M Davis

Box 9


    1. Incomplete copy of George W. Holdrege a Ph.D Dissertation by Thomas M Davis

Series 3 – Land Development Notebook

    1. Land Development notebook

Series 4 – Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Land and Mining reports

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

Box 10


    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

Box 11


    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

    1. Financial, Land, and Legal Materials

Series 5 – Newspaper Clippings

    1. Harvard Crew Activities

    1. Miscellaneous

    1. Miscellaneous

Series 6 – Maps (See WR/MC/26/03)

    1. Plat map, unknown area along Republican River, n.d.

    1. Colorized plat map, Sheridan, Wyoming, 1893

    1. Two graphs, Railroad main tracks, western lines, 1906, 1916

    1. Blue plat map, Lovell and Garland Burlington Route, n.d.

    1. Colorized blue plat map, Sheridan, Wyoming, n.d.

    1. Long blue plat map, Furnas County, 1891

    1. Long blue plat map, Furnas County, with water damage, 1891

    1. Extra-long blue plat map, North Platte Valley, Wyoming and Nebraska, 1920

    1. Plat map, Cass County, Nebraska, 1886

    1. Colorized Plat map, Sheridan, Wyoming, 1904

    1. Blueprint map, Nebraska/Dakota Railway, 1909

    1. Blueprint maps, SP&M Company in Wyoming, 1897 (2 maps)

    1. Blue plat map, Missouri River (Plattsmouth to Bellevue), 1912

    1. Colorized plat map, Oregon, n.d.

    1. Plat map, Cambridge and Arapahoe Irrigation and Improvement, 1892

    1. Plat map, Cass County, on vellum, 1886

    1. Map, unknown area, n.d.

    1. Promotional booklet, Oregon and Great Northern Railway, n.d.

    1. Plat map, Nebraska, n.d.

    1. Blue plat maps, Dome Lake Club, 1897 (3 maps) and Dome Lake Club agreement papers, 1901 (2 copies of papers, 3 pages each)

    1. Blueprint, Big Horn County, Wyoming, n.d.

    1. Blueprint, “The ’94’ Tunnel,” 1909

    1. Blue plat map, Bighorn River, Wyoming, n.d.

    1. Irrigation map, Bighorn River Basin, Wyoming, 1912

    1. Irrigation map, Bighorn River Basin, Wyoming, 1912, with attached phone message, 1920

    1. Railroad map, Wyoming, n.d.

    1. Plat map, Nebraska, Chicago Burlington Railroad, n.d.

    1. Colorized Atlas Map, Wyoming, 1912

    1. Irrigation Map, Bighorn River Basin, Wyoming, 1908

    1. Blueprint, Riverton Irrigation project, Wyoming, 1921, with letter from J.J. Arrow, 1921

    1. Blueprint Map, unknown area, 1903

    1. Drainage map, Northeastern Wyoming, 1889

    1. Map, Texas, n.d.

    1. Colorized map, Northwest U.S. (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Canada), n.d.

    1. Plat map, Range 84 West, n.d.

    1. Plat map, Port Valdez, Alaska, n.d.

    1. Plat map, Valdez Gold Region, n.d.

    1. Weather Map, United States (from U.S. Department of Agriculture), 9 June 1910

    1. Map, New Mexico, n.d.

    1. Blue plat map, Alice Mining Company’s Place Claims at Silver City, Clear Creek County, Colorado, 1884 (2 maps)

    1. Map of proposed tunnel, Alice, Colorado, Dec 1913

    1. Plat Map, Custer County, Colorado and paper with description of land (1 pg)

    1. Blue plat map, farm in Weld County, Colorado, n.d.

    1. Blue plat map, Luis Maria Baca Grant No. 4, Sanguache County, Colorado, n.d.

    1. Plat map, San Luis Valley, Colorado, 1910

    1. Blueprint map, unknown railroad, n.d.

    1. Plat map, The Arkansas Valley, Colorado, 1910

    1. Plat map, Bighorn River, n.d.

    1. Nebraska map, Burlington Railroad Route (2 pages)

    1. Letter to George, 1899 (3 pgs) and blueprint maps, ditches between Cambridge-Arapahoe and Culbertson Ditch, 1899 (2 pgs)

    1. Letter, 1899 (3 pgs), Blueprint, Cambridge-Arapahoe Irrigation Canal, 1892, and Burlington Railroad Route Schedule with 1 page letter, n.d.

    1. Blue map, Southeast Wyoming and Northwest Nebraska, n.d.

    1. Map, Cambridge and Arapahoe Canal, 1889

    1. Map, Crow Reservation, Wyoming, 1897

    1. Geological sketch, North Platte River Valley, Carlson County, Wyoming, n.d.

    1. Plat map, Denver Land District, 1915, with brochure attached, n.d.

    1. Plat Map, Dome Lake Canal, Sheridan County, Montana, 1898

Series 7 – Land Circulars

Box 12


    1. Oregon, n.d.

    1. Wyoming, 1911, 1921, n.d.

    1. Utah, Denver, and Nebraska, n.d.

Series 8 – Printed Materials

    1. Railroad Rule Booklets, 1899-1902

    1. Railroad Rule Booklets, 1905

    1. Railroad Rule Booklets, 1907

    1. Railroad Rule Booklets, 1908-1909, 1917

    1. Pamphlet, “Campbell’s New Method of…Natural Irrigation,” 1894

    1. Hollywood Map and Map Envelopes, n.d.

Series 9 – Scrapbooks

    1. Railroad-related Clippings, 1860s-1880s

    1. Soil Studies and Natural Resource Information Newspaper Clippings, 1914

    1. Railroad Informational Flyers (“General Orders”) with maps, 1877-1887



Agriculture — Nebraska

Burlington and Missouri River Railroad Company

Cambridge and Arapahoe Irrigation & Improvement Company

Campbell, Hardy Webster 1850-1933

Dome Lake Club (Sheridan, Wyo.)

Dry farming

Holdrege, George Ward, 1847-1926

Irrigation — Nebraska

Mines and mineral resources

Perkins, Charles Elliott 1840-1907

Petroleum — Wyoming


JEP/ht   05-31-1973

Revised JS/kfk   05-14-2004

Encoded TMM   05-06-2010

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