Let the Horses Go Where They Will

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Woods Bros Sale Day on Sheridan Boulevard
Woods Bros Sale Day on Sheridan Boulevard, photo courtesy of the Lincoln Planning Dept.

South Street at 25th in Lincoln is a hilltop. In the first part of the twentieth century if you were standing there, you would have had a nice view in all directions. There was surrounding countryside to the south, east, and west. Looking north, a view of the growing city. Mark Woods eventually built a beautiful home at the site. It provided an anchor at the north end of what would become Sheridan Place.

The beautiful and stately two-mile thoroughfare Sheridan Boulevard would become a main artery through the development, and later it would help connect the Woods developments that followed: Woodscrest, Van Dorn Park, Woodsdale, Woodsshire, and the Country Club additions.

Accounts vary about how this lovely street came to be laid out well over one hundred years ago, but it is accepted that a boy laid out the general path of Sheridan Boulevard. Mark Woods prepared a buckboard buggy with two horses for his son, Pace, then quite young. The boy would ride along and mark the pathway that would become Sheridan Boulevard.

He was to point them in the right direction, south and east through the countryside, and then simply, “… let the horses go where they will.” The idea was that the horses would follow the natural ridge top as they pulled the buggy along. Staying atop the ridge would help provide best views, breezes, and natural drainage.

There are some fun variations on the story of the way that young Pace Woods marked the path of the road. In one version, he rode on the step at the back of the wagon, and because it was shortly after Independence Day, he placed individual American flags in the ground every several feet. In another version, he had the family’s hunting dogs along with him and to mark the path of the future boulevard, he tossed large stones every few yards that the dogs would chase with delight.

In any event, it is clear that the method was successful – young Pace Woods and his horses forged a beautiful path through farm and prairie. The course that was eventually carved resulted in Sheridan Boulevard – still a signature thoroughfare in our city.

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