The North Bend Eagle


Morse Bluff signDan Minarick, Sandy Vosler and Ryan Walker erect the new Morse Bluff sign along Highway 79 on July 29.

New sign indentifies Morse Bluff, nods to its history

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/6/06

Morse Bluff is nothing if not a railroad town.

Now that statement might confuse some of the most recent generations, but the Saunders County village owes not only its existence to the railroad, but its name.

With funds left over from the 2012 quasquicentennial celebration, the Q125 committee decided to erect a sign marking Morse Bluff while paying homage to its railroad roots.

The steel sign in the shape of a locomotive stands on the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 79 and the bottom road. Bold white letters reading

“Morse Bluff” and “Est. 1887” stand in contrast to the black background.
Randy Kremlacek, a member of the Q125 committee, said the group wanted something that would stand out and be different. He drew inspiration from reading the Morse Bluff history book published for the town’s centennial in 1987.

“The reason Morse Bluff is here at all is because it was a water station for the railroad,” Kremlacek said. “So I got to thinking either we should put up a water tank, like a Petticoat Junction water tank, or let’s put up a train.”

The village of Morse was platted June 27, 1887, named after Chester Morse, who owned the land the town would be built on.

At that time, a brand new rail line of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad passed by on the north edge of town running passengers, goods and mail from Fremont through Morse then onto the next water stop at Linwood. After Linwood the line split, with one going to Superior and the other to Hastings.

In the early 20th century, the word “Bluff” was added to the town’s name to avoid confusion with another Morse elsewhere on the Chicago Northwestern line.

While eating at a restaurant, Kremlacek sketched up a drawing of a locomotive and showed other members of the Q125 committee. Once the group settled on a subject, graphic artist Lynn Gibney – a Morse Bluff native and resident – drew up the final design.

Dan Minarick of Steel Creations, another Morse Bluff native, was hired to make the sign. Galen and Joann Johnson owned the strip of land where the tracks ran and gave the Q125 committee a lifetime lease to use the ground for the sign. Bluff Gravel helped with the dirt work around the sign’s base.


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