October 29, 2022 | Last updated May 15, 2023

Marker Monday: Coffee Siding

Our Historical Markers across Nebraska highlight fascinating moments and places in our state’s past.

Today, we’re focusing on an important shipping point for Nebraska’s pioneer ranchers that has now all but disappeared.


Rural U.S. 20, Harrison, Sioux County, Nebraska

Marker Text

Large pioneer ranches were established in this region of Nebraska in the 1870’s and early 1880’s. Charles F. Coffee was one of these pioneers, with ranch headquarters on Hat Creek in Nebraska and Rawhide Creek in Wyoming. By June, 1886, the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railroad (later the Chicago and North Western) reached the present site of Harrison. On August 15, Coffee shipped the first train load from Harrison to Chicago. 

Coffee Siding, located here to avoid higher freight rates in Wyoming, became an important shipping point for Nebraskans. Wyoming ranchers also trailed herds here for shipment. Near the 1,023 footlong siding, Coffee built seven cattle pens. Cattle awaiting shipment were pastured on the Niobrara River south of here. As many as three cattle trains, each consisting of not less than fourteen cars, were sometimes shipped at a time. 

Ranching continues as the major industry in Sioux County, but development of better roads and use of huge cattle trucks have reduced dependence on railroads. Sidings and pens used continuously through the 1940’s were removed in 1958, and little remains to mark Coffee Siding and the pioneer ranching activity it represented.

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