Table Rock's
Table Rock

by Dick Taylor
      Almost every early resident of the locality ventured a mile and a half east of Table Rock to examine the unusual natural formation for which the Nebraska town was named back in the mid-1850's, with some graffiti freaks leaving their personal inscriptions for all the world to see. Under the thick projecting brow of its elevated ten-foot-wide flat top, visitors could stand fully erect next to a huge stone "the color of brown sugar" and shaped like "a low-set goblet." But none of the fascinated observers could determine the origin of an 18-inch-high four-legged stone table stationed, before its 1861 disappearance, on the large rock's top surface. Early settlers discovered a pair of holes near the expansive top containing charcoal and bones, causing them to speculate that Indians had formerly used the arrangement for religious ceremonies. While snoopy viewers gave the configuration a close-up inspection, disinterested cattle grazed nonchalantly in the surrounding pasture.

      Reportedly, a powerful bolt of lightning came sizzling down out of a stormy Nebraska sky sometime before 1882, causing one side of the unique stone formation to fall. After another decade, the massive rock became noticeably unsteady, raising fears that the remaining unbalanced portion could also someday come crashing down, mangling an unsuspecting beast or squashing an unwary sightseer. Local folks were increasingly afraid something might inadvertently unseat the rock and roll it onto some unfortunate victim. The special landmark which had endured for a millennium was toppled around 1892, later residents recalling the preventive measure was successfully accomplished by a pre-emptive dynamite blast.

(A full century ago, in 1895, the editor of Pawnee City's commercial The Sugar Beet Era periodical prophesied the natural monument would eventually be reassembled, restored and treasured by future generations.)

      Wandering up from "Bleeding Kansas" during the earlier years, the intrepid John Brown had stopped at Table Rock numerous times. For curious scrutiny throughout following decades, the great abolitionist once carved the year 1856 beside his famous name upon the mighty stone. Although his philosophical legacy survived, the well-known opponent of slavery was executed just three years later; and in 1880 some unappreciative fuddy-duddy also obliterated "Old Brown's" historic marking on the big boulder that had given the nearby village its lasting label.

© Oldtime Nebraska -- Table Rock's Table Rock, submitted by Dick Taylor - April, 1997