Hickman (Wagon Train)

In about 1963 Bob and I had spent the day driving from one spot to another on the Blue River to find where the fish would be biting. It was getting late in the evening; we were discouraged but not ready to go home. We decided to try one of the new lakes that had just opened. This was the day we discovered Hickman lake. The farmer would let you park the car in his pasture behind the dam. We unloaded our gear and headed over the dam and stretching before us was a large lake with a nice sandy beach. Using only our flashlights, we baited our hooks and threw out our lines. One of us saw our line started moving out into the lake. Since our only experience fishing had been in the river this was something new. We couldn't figure out how to catch whatever had hold of our hook.

We told Dad what had happened. He said it was catfish biting. You had to wait until they actually bent the pole and then rare back to set the hook. After sundown was a good time to catch catfish

Fishing at Hickman Lake became our favorite. We could take Cindy and Rob with us. I can still picture two-year old Robbie with those little legs trying to keep up with the rest of us as we hiked over the dam. Sometimes Mom and Dad would join us or our neighbors Lorene and Howard Churchill along with their girls, Paula, Carla, and Leann. The kids could play in the sand while we fished. Most of the time we wound catch bluegill until the sun went down and the catfish started biting.

Improvements were made at Wagon Train including a picnic area and a roped off swimming area. We enjoyed having a picnic followed by swimming in the lake. Dad had purchased a very small boat which could be folded and carried on top of the car. Later he added an electric engine which was allowed on the lake. Bob and Dad would go out on the boat to fish while I would take the kids swimming.

On the lake, the nights cool down faster than in town. Many times before we had air conditioning, we would take the kids to the lake to swim and fish.

The Salt Valley Lakes were built to control flooding. Unfortunately in the dry years, the lakes would get smaller. Soon fishing off the dam was no longer an option.

Bob always loved to follow new roads. We found one that came to a dead end and led to the tail waters of the lake. It was easy to access, a good level place to fish and for the kids to play. We could drive right up to it and unload the gear. No more trips over the dam.

When we moved from our home on 18th street in Lincoln to West Rose, Hickman Lake was too far and that was when we discovered Emerald (Pawnee) Lake.