Dog Hollow, Goose Hollow, Frog Hollow, Goat Mountain.
When it comes to colorful Omaha neighborhood names, the city’s south side stands alone.
Certainly topography played its part. South of Dodge Street in the older sections of the city, east of 48th Street, there are hills and rills. It’s where the melting pot of immigrants settled to fill the factory and the stockyards jobs. The enclaves of Poles, Czechs, Croats, Irish, Lithuanians and more gave descriptive names to their neighborhoods.
Let’s start with Dog Hollow, which was in the Brown Park neighborhood near 17th and P Streets, and Goat Mountain, which was a block east. Part of the land has been used for Gomez Heritage Elementary School.
When Dog Hollow and Goat Mountain were in the news in the mid-1960s when a community renewal program was proposed, Omaha Sun Newspaper writer Gerald Lamberson consulted old-timers for the origin of the names.
Brown Park — the original 1887 plat was from 17th and Q Streets to the southwest — was home to a colony of immigrants from Bohemia. Many families clustered their homes in the hollows to help contain the heat in winter and maintain coolness in the summer.
The story goes, Lamberson said, that it was not unusual for a Czech settler to have two or three dogs — spitzes, German police or shepherds. “Since the homes were built in the winding hollows, it seemed logical for the dogs to roam in this habitat too — and so the name ‘dog hollow.’ And a common sight was seeing dogs running from tree to tree, sniffing, smelling … and on to the next tree.”
Goats were among the barnyard animals kept by the Bohemians. But because the hollows weren’t good grazing ground, boys would have to take the goats up on the hill and stake them out.
“There were so many goats on the hill that it soon became known as goat mountain.” And because their work was done once the goats were staked, the boys would bide their time playing sandlot ball. “These boys would belt the ball down the mountain, race around the paths and have a good time. Some of South Omaha’s better ball teams were formed on Goat Mountain.”
Goose Hollow was a Lithuanian neighborhood south of Q Street. Its boundaries were roughly 33rd to 36th Streets, T to V Streets. In 1955, South Omaha historian Mose McKeon told the South Omaha Sun about the geese and their fate. It seems paved streets hastened their demise.
Many of the Lithuanians raised geese as a source of income. Quite talkative at all hours, the birds roamed at will on the unpaved streets and alleys. Then the area was annexed and the roadways improved.
Said McKeon: “The geese, accustomed to walking upon dirt roads and unused to city ways, got sore feet from having to walk on the hard pavement. They did not thrive as they had before. Then automobiles came along and either scared the wits out of the geese or killed a lot of them. As a result, the raising of geese declined as an industry and the old name of Goose Hollow was almost forgotten.”
Frog Hollow was north of 33rd and L Streets. The following is my late colleague James Ivey’s description of Frog Hollow from an excellent 1976 special section he authored on South O:
“The water was cool and clear. It coursed through the ravine to turn south at what is now Dahlman Avenue. The water drew them, by the hundreds, after the turn of the century. They nailed up their shacks and moved in their families. Every day they got on the dummy train coming south of Sheelytown and rode to work in the packing plants. The valley was alive with frogs and they called it Zabno — Frog — Hollow. They remained there until the railroads evicted them and filled the ravine.”
Near Frog Hollow was Prohibition Hill, an oxymoron considering it was a saloon district.
Indian Hill, a name that has endured through an elementary school at 32nd and U Streets, also became known as Irish Hill. It was the area around St. Mary’s Catholic Church at 36th and Q Streets. McKeon, the area historian, claimed that the section originally was undesirable land.
“No one lived there except maybe a few hermits and a lot of jackrabbits,” he said in 1955. “The packing houses needed workers, so they imported a lot of Chicago ‘Indians.’ Not the … Indians of Nebraska. They settled up on the hill and used to come down to work out of the underbrush and weeds. Thus the district became known as Indian Hill.”
Other settlements on the south side included the Romanians, between P, Q, 33rd and 36th Streets; the Serbs, around 30th and S Streets; and the Greeks, at 22nd and P, 28th and R and 33rd and Q.
One more moniker was the notorious Bloody Corner at 28th and R Streets. In 1921 police records showed that there were eight murders in six years at that intersection with three “soft-drink parlors” (bars) and a fleabag hotel on each corner.
That South Omaha nickname deserved to fade away.
Stories of Omaha's history by Stu Pospisil
Many Omahans of a certain age remember visiting Santa at Toyland in the Brandeis department store. The tradition dated to the 1900s when J.L. Brandeis and Sons were the proprietors of the Boston Store.
The Benson and the Hanscom are only two of the more than 70 theaters that sprung up outside downtown Omaha during the first half of the 20th century. The majority opened — and closed — during the era of silent films.
Omaha’s first auto club, formed in 1902, included 20 of the city’s 25 auto owners. Their first activity was a road rally to Blair and back.
Take a look back at the history of the Chermot Ballroom and some of the big names that played there.
The New Tower’s front lobby had a Normandy castle motif with great stone walls, heraldic crests and wood-burning fireplace. The massive beams and lofty ceilings carried over into the Crest Dining Room.
A generation of Omahans — and newcomers to the city — likely are unaware that Peony Park, the major amusement spot from the 1930s through 1994, was at 78th and Cass Streets.
Pardon the pun, but another of my deep digs has turned up forgotten burial grounds across Douglas County.
The fame of Curo Springs was so far-reaching that in pioneer days — every fall and spring — people from 100 miles away (some crossing the Missouri in crude boats) would come to load up with the water.
They were the twin banes in Omaha’s pioneer years. One of them came back to life during the nighttime deluge that hit the area last weekend.
The Omaha Chamber of Commerce was prepared to remove its $35,000 hangar — built in modular sections — until the city was ready to build a municipal airport. Then came back-to-back windstorms.
Ezra Meeker’s crusade is credited for reawakening awareness of the Oregon Trail in the early 20th century. In the process, he erroneously linked Omaha to the trail and others took his word for it.
An Omaha real estate firm had the idea in the heyday of the '20s that it could sell 1,500 cottage lots platted away from the lakes and the Platte River. So what happened?
The Dan Parmelee-Tom Keeler feud, which included an Old West shootout on the outskirts of old Elkhorn in December 1874, left Keeler dead and made news nationwide.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Omahans had their pick of drive-in movie theaters. Cars with families and cars with teens -- some watching the film and others, well, you know -- side by side, wired speakers hanging inside a car door.
Clontarf never was incorporated as a village, but functioned like one and wielded political clout larger than its 47 acres. There was a lawless element, too.
'Mascotte was a big joke but it looked good while it lasted.' The village had a factory, railroad depot, hotel, general store, school and about 40 cottages. By 1915, it was all gone.
West Dodge Road has been rebuilt over and over. And along the way, the Old Mill area has lost its mill, its hazardous Dead Man’s Curve and the most beautiful bridge in the county.