publications

Skating Under Cover: Kearney’s Indoor Ice Rink

Ice skating enthusiasts in Nebraska braved winter weather and rough ice before the advent of the indoor rink made “skating under cover” a more comfortable experience. The Kearney Daily Hub on November 24, 1891, announced the opening of such a rink “Which Promises to do an Immense Business this Winter.”



The Hub said: “The constant hammering and pounding which has been going on inside the old Central rink building for the past week has been a constant source of interest to the public and numerous conjectures have been advanced as to its meaning. While arrangements have not been entirely completed we are at liberty now to let the public into the secret.”



“It is hoped that by the commencement of next week the doors which at present remain closed will be unbolted and Kearney’s ice skating rink opened to the patronage of an indulgent public. A special program is being arranged for the opening night when a full brass band will undoubtedly add interest to the occasion.



“The idea of having a skating rink of this kind originated in the minds of C. H. Henderson and H. O. Watson and it is safe to say that under the management of Mr. Henderson, who has been successful in the management of such enterprises before, the public may expect the best of accommodation and attention.



“The tank measures 40×100 feet and the ice will be frozen to a depth of eight inches, giving a perfect skating surface. At the extreme south end of the rink a band stand has been built and artistically decorated, while at the opposite end will be constructed a grand stand for the accommodation of spectators. Cloak and reception rooms add greatly to the convenience of patrons and the entire rink will be lighted by electricity.”



Several months later, on January 16, 1892, the Hub said: “Skating under cover at the rink is becoming more and more an attraction as the public comes to realize and appreciate the superior advantages attached thereto. The very best class of people are the greatest patrons of this novelty as the management gains more and more their good will and confidence.”



Kearney’s indoor ice rink in 1891-92 was not the first to offer such amenities. The Omaha Daily Bee on January 4, 1884, advertised: “Plenty skates, ice good, rink well lighted and dressing rooms well heated. St. Mary’s avenue rink.” Kearney’s social club for single men, the Bachelors’ Protective Union, told the Daily Hub in October of 1889 that plans were underway to flood and enclose the B.P.U.’s tennis grounds to create an indoor rink with “dressing rooms, stoves and refreshment bouffes [sic] for hot coffee and light lunches.” Ice skaters could at last enjoy a favorite winter sport in indoor comfort. 





An ice skater was photographed on a frozen Sandhills lake in Cherry County by Solomon D. Butcher in 1901. NSHS RG2608-2913 (detail).

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.