In the fall of 1881 Long Pine was a hustling little frontier town only a few weeks old. It was headquarters for Berry Brothers stage line and all freight and supplies for Fort Niobrara and surrounding country. The Railroad eating house was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Rich. The Severns House was built shortly after this.
There was lots of talk and excitement about the possibilities of the new country farther on when the road was built west in the spring. A number of business men who established themselves at Long Pine that year, later came to Valentine, then on to Chadron. Doctor Alfred Lewis was Long Pines' first physician; in 1883 he came to Valentine and was the first physician to locate here. Thomas Moore, now living at Riverside, California, was a pioneer businessman of Long Pine who later moved his flour and feed store to Valentine.
F. H. Warren who was elected Judge of Cherry County in November 1883, also came up here from Long Pine. My father, Peter Donoher, brought his family to Long Pine. In the fall of 1881 and we lived that winter in the canyon near the Seven Springs that we heard so much about and close by Sergeant O'Leary's attractive little house built of red cedar logs was situated.
Some people thought the water in the springs contained medicinal properties and should be developed and the town called Seven Springs instead of Long Pine. Mr. O'Leary was a discharged soldier from the regular army but everyone still called him Sergeant O'Leary. He had filed on a homestead on the canyon.
A tragic death occurred on the street at Long Pine that first fall. Bartley Kane, a young homesteader from Atkinson, had been working for Berry Brothers. There was some dispute over his wages. Kane was very angry and made some disparaging remarks about Berry Bros. to which Jesse Crawford, a stage driver for Berry Brothers, took exception and he struck Kane with a piece of 2x4 and killed him.
It was a very sad affair for Mr. Kane had a young widowed sister with two small children who had come out from some place in the east to file on a home stead joining his at Atkinson and she was expecting him home to build her house and help her get ready for a winter on her claim.
Spotted Tail was killed by Crow Dog that year and many rumors of an Indian outbreak grapevined through the country but we felt very safe in Long Pine canyon because we were near the railroad.
Valentine, Nebr. Long Pine creek was so named because of the magnificent pine trees which grew on its banks. These trees were famed for their great height and symmetry, and have been often referred to by early explorers and travelers. So superior were they to the pines in other canyons near, that many of the best of them were chopped down and put into use soon after they were discovered. Only a few of the best ones were left when the country adjacent to the creek was settled.
One of these fine trees was taken to Fort Hartsuff where it was used for a flag pole on the parade ground. A detail of soldiers from the fort had been sent out to search until they found the tallest tree in this part of the state, and they returned with one from the banks of the Long Pine.
Mrs. Nannie Hogan in writing of the trail over which she and her mother, Mrs. Nannie Osborn, traveled coming from Fort Hartsuff to the Bone creek ranch mentions the "Lone Pine" which was very tall. It stood near the head waters of Long Pine creek and could be seen for fifteen miles. This tree served as a land mark for travel between the Calamus trail and the freighter's trail.
The late A. J. Leach of Oakdale, made several exploring and hunting trips to this section in the early '70's He wrote a description of them, then added: "Later, I with two others went with teams and hauled away from Short Pine creek two loads of cedar timber for a bridge over Cedar creek in Antelope county. The piling for the first public bridge across the Elkhorn River was all hauled from Long Pine creek." This is no doubt but one of many instances of these fine trees being used for practical purposes.
An account of the journey made by the Gordon Expedition through the county in May, 1875, written by Charles J. Kimball of Hermosa, S. D., and published in Sheridan County Star, contains this interesting item: "We crossed Long Pine near its mouth which was the steepest ravine I ever crossed with a wagon. We tied logs to the hind axles of the wagons to help hold them back. West of Long Pine, we killed a cinnamon bear in the timber on the Niobrara River. The men who had ponies to ride went out and shot at him with revolvers which only made him mad and he chased them up the hill. V. P. Shoun was the scout for the party and he killed him just as he got to the top of the hill, so we had bear meat for supper."
Long Pine, the town, was named for the beautiful stream and canyon through which it winds. The first settlers here made their homes in the canyon to be near wood and water, and to be somewhat sheltered from the elements. Several came in the late '70's: Rev. Irving H. Skinner, Bassett, James Graham, Seth Bates, Mike Kernan, F. E. Stockwelll and family, the Donoher family. John Coleman (who had been employed earlier on the Cook and Tower ranch on Bone creek.)
Other very early residents in and near the town were Carleton Pettijohn, Isaac Mills, Theron Ford, Abe Bailey, John W. Vargison, Nels Ringsrud, Henry Tabler, Ed Ryan, Dr. Lewis, Sergeant O'Leary, W. H. Magill, Henry Danks, John and Henry Leadis, Granville Butler, John Hill, Charles and Thomas Glover, J. D. Whittemore, Z. B. Cox.
The first resident to occupy ground where now stands the town was "Dirty" Smith. With his family he had homesteaded the ground now occupied by the depot and yards of the Chicago & Northwestern railway company. (I have seen a published statement that. Kate Litz was the very earliest settler in Long Pine in 1876, but have been unable to verify this.)
In 1881 and 1882 many Indians came from their reservation north of the Keya Paha River to Long Pine to get supplies, bringing cedar posts to exchange for goods when they had no money.