The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Donation Assists Camp Lookout Renovation


January 31, 2018

Courtesy Photo

Lori Hartzler, widow of Michael S. Hartzler Jr., along with Mikes parents, Mike Sr. And Gladys Hartzler,  presented a check of $2,200 to the Boothill Committee.  Mike passed away Nov. 2, 2017.  "Mike was a history buff and liked what the Boothill Committee had accomplished" said Lori.  The memorial money will go to furnishing a conference room in Camp Lookout as a memorial to Mike.  Both Mike and Lori are Sidney natives.  Lori currently resides in Fort Worth Texas.

In the mid to late 1800s, the western plains were wild and the men and women who tried to tame them were wilder still.

Camp Lookout was established as one of many outposts to help ensure the safety of people moving into the west.

The Boot Hill Committee is working to restore the Camp Lookout building to historical significance.

Since its construction in 1867, the building went from being a military outpost, to a brothel, then into private ownership before it was purchased by the City of Sidney. It was built to house soldiers from Fort Sedgwick in Colorado who were sent to set up an outpost along Lodgepole Creek to protect railroad workers constructing the Union Pacific railroad west.

The late 1800s in Sidney was a time of lawlessness, a time when the community earned the name "Sinful Sidney" for number of vice businesses along Main Street, later renamed Hickory Street. Historians estimate the number of bars and brothels along Main Street numbered in the 80s. Violence was so rampant trains would not stop in Sideny, choosing instead a siding a few miles east of Sidney.

Nestled just below the bluffs to the north of Sidney, Camp Lookout could guard the railroad parallel to Hickory Street, the officers quarters east and the gold exchange just south of Camp Lookout.

The Boot Hill Committee is working to restore Camp Lookout to represent its early rustic charm. The work has taken a building that may have looked almost hopeless and is turning it into something representative of the 1860s. Artifacts found nearby are on display behind glass in a main floor room. Furniture is placed and arranged to represent the military period and a bedroom set and waiting room in recognition of the time the building was a brothel.

One of the rooms leads out to the balcony with a view south to the railroad, gold depot and the rest of Sidney. The room is a conference room, a strategic center where soldiers could make plans and be at the ready from the same vantage point. It is also the newest point of focus for renovation.

Lori Hartzler, widow of Michael S. Hartzler, Jr., and his parents Mike Sr. and Gladys Hartzler recently donated $2,200 toward the committee improving the conference room.

Kathy Wilson, a member of the Boot Hill Committee, said the donation will go toward acquiring a historically accurate conference table and chairs, kerosene lamps and maps.

Restoration of Camp Lookout is a long and complicated process, from the 2009 purchase for $3,200 to replacing the roof and remodeling rooms to be as historically accurate as possible. Some pieces are reproductions. The original furnishings, if they could be found, can be cost-prohibitive.


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