Last updated: July 26, 2004
Niobrara Historical Brevity
July 1, 1986
From "Niobrara Historical Brevity" published by the
Niobrara Historical Society, in observance of the Lusk Centennial 1886-1986
The Hat Creek Stage Station lies below a ridge of pine clad hills (or brakes) that separates the high plain called the Divide and the land at the foot of the hills known as the Hat Creek Valley. The station is on the old stage road which later became Highway 85.
In 1875 troops of soldiers were sent from Fort Laramie to establish an outpost on Hat Creek in western Nebraska. Confused, they set up a post on Sage Creek, Wyoming and named it Hat Creek.
The troops were supposed to keep gold seekers and settlers out of the Black Hills Indian Territory.
This was the Indian's hunting grounds and game was plentiful. They resented anyone moving in and made raids on emigrants, stagecoaches, freight wagons and ranches.
The 1868 Indian treaty was ratified in 1876 - so now the hills were open to settlement and gold seekers.
Freight and stage roads were established from Cheyenne, Wyo. to Deadwood, S. D. Another route branched NE from Hat Creek to the Harding ranch on Indian Creek to Cheyenne River Ranch, Custer and Deadwood.
In 1876 a telegraph line followed the stage route from Fort Laramie to Deadwood, S. D. Telegraph stations were set up at stage stations. Hat Creek's office opened in Sept. 1876. It was later in the month before messages could be sent because Indians had torn down some of the line near Hat Creek.
Freighters first broke the trail from Cheyenne to Deadwood in 1875 and 76. In 1876 the Cheyenne-Deadwood stagecoach carried mail and passengers. Holdups were very commonplace and the breaks south of Hat Creek Station was a perfect place for bandits and outlaws to waylay the coach. Many famous people as well as outlaws came thru via stagecoach.
Hat Creek Ranch and Stage Stop on Sage Creek was built in the fall of 1876 by John Bowman and Joe Walters. The first building put up by J. W. Dear was burned by the Indians. The new building was built of logs and a tunnel ran from it to the creek. The station was open for business in 1877. Besides hotel accommodations, it had a post office, telegraph office, stock and hay, bakery, grocery, brewery and blacksmith shop. In 1879, Charles Hecht bought the station.
The first postmaster was H. O. Campbell (2/2/77). There were several postmasters between 1877 and 1882 when John Storrie became postmaster. Then Andrew Falconer was postmaster from 1891 until his death in 1923. Dudley Fields, Andrew's son in law, re-established the post office on 1/23/24. The store and post office were moved twice after that. Once in 1928 and again in 1934. When Highway 85 was changed it was necessary to move the store to retain business.*
At the stage station the old log two story building built in 1880 by John Storrie and Tom Swan still stands. Andrew Falconer took over the John Storrie holdings and added to it. His two granddaughters still own the land.
There was no military fort at Hat Creek. Only Calvary troops from 1875 to 1877 - according to records at Washington, D. C.
*The Hat Creek Post Office was moved one more time in 1952 to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lue Osborn. Mable Osborn was postmaster. The 94 year old post office closed officially December 10, 1971.
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