A Lincoln citizenís curiosity concerning the deep ruts across a vacant lot on East South and First streets has brought to light the existence of an old government trail used 70 years ago. It is probable that every one in this community has at some time or another seen the remnants of this old road, but few have realized the historical significance.
C.C. Hendrickson, one of the few remaining persons in the county who came in the Ď60s, recalls that the road was used for two years or more by government troops carrying supplies from Fort Harker, in Ellsworth county, to the blockhouse near Pottersburg, in Lincoln county. His recollection of the trail is a vivid one, for the road in those very early days was one of the most used in the country and it was at the Hendrickson home that the soldiers usually stopped for dinner.
The Hendrickson family arrived in Lincoln county in 1866, locating on a claim in Elkhorn township. One year later, or in 1867, as nearly as Mr. Hendrickson can remember, the government established a blockhouse at Pottersburg, stationing 15 to 20 troops there for protection of citizens from the Indians which still roamed over these prairies.
Supplies for the soldiers were brought from Fort Harker (now in Kanpolis) in government wagons drawn by mules. Each supply train consisted of one large wagon, drawn by six or eight mules, and accompanied by four or five soldiers mounted on horseback. Supplies included foodstuffs, bedding, clothing and ammunition.
Leaving Fort Harker, the trains came down the Elkhorn into Lincoln county, crossing the Saline river at the old Corbin ford halfway between the present Rocky Hill and mill bridges. (This ford, no longer used, is on the present Alvin Tieman farm. It was a landmark in the early days.)
From the ford the government trail or road angled across the prairies to the C.C. Hendrickson farm and then crossed Yauger creek near the present site of the Quartzite crusher. The road followed in a northwesterly course directly across the Lincoln townsite, continuing on to the Pottersburg blockhouse. The Hendrickson farm was about halfway in the trip and the soldiers were glad for an opportunity to rest and prepare their meals at the hospitable farm. They always carried their own food and cooking utensils and grain for the mules and horses. But they would avail themselves of water from the Hendrickson well and sometimes gathered wood to build a campfire.
By 1870, a year after Lincoln countyís famous Indian raid, the blockhouse at Pottersburg had been abandoned by the government and the supply trains came no more over the rough trail. However, pioneers continued to use the road until more and more land was broken out and roads were established along section lines.
Gradually the trail faded. But here and there in the county where pastures have not been broken, students of history can see traces of the ruts made by the loaded wagons. The only evidence of the government road on the townsite of Lincoln is on the Oscar Seitz lot at East South and First streets, crossing the half block diagonally from southeast to northwest, ending at the alley near the residence of Mrs. J.C. Cooper. Those who look may see the ruts and envision a mule drawn wagon, trailing slowly across the unbroken prairies as it might have been in 1870, nine years before the city of Lincoln Center was incorporated.