With memories that include trains, dress shops and local cafes, Neva Bartlett certainly paints a different picture of Chadron then you might see looking out your front window today.
“I’ve been here since World War II,” Bartlett said. “We had a train then. We rode the train. It was a different world then, and everyone was going into the service.”
Now 91 years old, Bartlett has lived a mile north of the Chadron post office since she married at 28. Her husband, Morton, was a Navy man who was a member of the Seabees, a nickname for the United States Naval Construction Batallions. Morton passed in 1999 at the age of 72 but she remains at their home place. Though having no cattle of her own on the acreage, Bartlett said the land is used to pasture cattle. She has two sons on the ranch now, one who’s retired from the railroad and both of whom care for the ranch and do chores like mending fence and haying.
Born in Dannebrog, Bartlett said her mother passed when she was nine and her father re-married. Out of high school at about 16 years old, she came out Chadron to see a friend and wound up staying. She worked at the cattle sale barn for more than 40 years. She noted the railroad was heavily used at the barn, to ship cattle out after payment.
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Bartlett also noted that trains also ran through Chadron with troop transports. “North Platte is where they go on the train and went to whatever part of the service they were going to.”
Besides her memories of the railroad, Bartlett recalled there were two additional churches, four cafes and four dress shops in town. “We don’t have any now.”
As for what she’s like about Chadron over the years, Bartlett said, “I like the people. Of course, I worked the sale barn for 40-some years and got to know everybody. We were close to town, which is handy. I just really like the people.”