Nebraska November 13, 2016
These Little-Known Underground Spaces Are Relics Of Another Era In Nebraska
World War II affected everyone in the U.S. in some way, and Nebraska was of course no different. The story of the
North Platte Canteen will live on as one of the most memorable wartime tales to come out of Nebraska, but it’s far from the only one.
Most people have no idea these little dirt-and-grass igloos pepper an area of nearly 20,000 acres in western Nebraska.
There are 801 of them in total. At first, they look almost like the ruins of a long-ago civilization. In a way, that's just what they are.
This is part of the former Sioux Army Ordnance Depot just outside of Sidney in Cheyenne County.
These igloos - dirt and grass on the outside but solid concrete under that - were built to store weapons, ammunition, and supplies. The depot was constructed in 1942 over a period of several months.
Thirty-five farming families who owned land in the area at the time were bought out by the government to make way for the depot. They had to move with almost no notice.
The depot encompassed far more than just these lonely igloos in fields. Family housing, supply buildings, administrative buildings, and miles of new roads and railroad tracks came with the new development.
Sidney went from a sleepy rural community to a bustling town nearly overnight.
The population swelled from just over 3,000 to 10,000 thanks to construction workers and people employed at the depot. Housing was in high demand and low supply; new homes and apartments sprang up to accommodate all of the workers.
The depot was used for 25 years and through three wars, until finally being decommissioned in 1967.
Today, most remaining parts of the former depot are unused. Some of the housing built for the population boom still stands, and a few of the depot buildings are in use by various occupants. But these igloos still stand just as they have for the past 74 years. These days, they're mostly used for storing grain and farm equipment.
This fascinating report from Pure Nebraska gives you a look inside the storage igloos, and the president of the Cheyenne County Historical Society tells the story of these odd structures way out in the middle of the western Nebraska fields.
another war relic hiding out in a Nebraska field – and you’d never know it from ground level.