Platte Elks celebrate 100 years |
DIANE WETZEL , The North Platte Telegraph |
One hundred years ago the people of
North Platte were treated to the sight of Elks parading down Dewey
The North Platte and Grand Island bands provided the
music as Elks from Omaha and Grand Island joined their North Platte
counterparts to dedicate the North Platte chapter of the Benevolent
and Protective Order of the Elks.
It was June 24, 1905, and this
week, the B.P.O.E. lodge No. 985 will have a celebration of their
centennial on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the lodge at 1800 N.
The B.P.O.E was founded in 1868 and is one of the oldest
and largest private organizations in the United States. Today there
are over 1.1 million members in more than 2,100 local lodges found
in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and
The North Platte chapter originally held meetings at
the Knights of Pythians Hall until the construction of a new lodge
building, according to information provided by Larry Britton. On
March 13, 1911, the lodge held its first meeting at 4th and Dewey,
which first housed the five-and-dime Kaufman-Wernert, then later the
W.J. O'Connor Store.
Buffalo Bill Cody's son-on-law, Fred Garlow
was the lodge secretary the year the building opened. Garlow donated
the elk's head trophy that is at the current lodge today.
Bill was a member of the Elks, although not a North Platte lodge
member. After his death, Cody was taken to the Elk's lodge in Denver
where his funeral service was held, conducted by an Elks
The present day Elks Lodge was dedicated on November 8,
1964. A class of more than 100 people was inducted into membership
the day before the dedication, and was the largest class inducted at
anytime in the lodge's history.
On May 9, 1994 a mortgage burning
ceremony was held to celebrate the payment of the construction
The North Platte lodge has donated many hours to the
community. The building has been used for free health clinics and
for oral dental clinics for low-income families. It has sponsored a
wide variety of programs, some of which include, providing leather
gloves to disabled veterans, Christmas baskets for the needy, and
has been a leading participant in the annual Salvation Army Bell
Ringing program. The lodge has sponsored a youth baseball team for
more than 50 years.
The Wild West Memorial in Cody Park has been
a highly successful lodge project. The project has a display of
flags representing all the countries where the Buffalo Bill Wild
West Show traveled.
According to Britton, Past Exalted Rulers of
the North Platte Lodge have included two former governors of the
state, several former mayors of the city, a state senator, several
bank presidents, and attorneys.
"There are many fine men who are
concerned with the welfare of the North Platte community," Britton
said. "We are celebrating our 100th anniversary with pride and
honor, and hope that the order and its benevolent work will grow and