Loup River Public Power District

While reading a newspaper article about federal monies that could be lent to self-liquidating projects Phil Hockenberger, a Columbus businessman involved in real estate, insurance and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce became inspired. Hockenberger, who had a degree in engineering, was familiar with the abandoned Nebraska Power Company Canal because his father had served as secretary and had owned stock in Babcock's dream. The timing seemed right to revisit that plan.

After discussing the plan with his friend, Harold Kramer, who had just sold his father's coal business and who was looking for work, the duo presented the plan to 36 Columbus businessmen at the Thurston Hotel. Although only 6 of those men had any recollection of the Babcock plan, they were excited. This could help reverse the effects of the Depression and develop a source of economical electric power at the same time.

The Loup River Power Canal Committee was formed and C.B. Fricke was elected chairman. These three men became vital to the creation of the Loup River Public Power District.

Later in life, Hockenberger described the trio in this way:

"To get anything done, you need a thinker, a doer, and a seller. I was the thinker; Kramer the doer; and Fricke the seller. What one of us lacked in vision or ability, one or both of the others made up for it. I couldn't have asked for a better team."

You can also learn more about Loup Power District at the Platte County Museum in Columbus, Nebraska. Call 888-564-3171, ext. 202 for details.