Ellsworth, Nebraska is another town along Nebraska Highway 2 that owes its existence to the building of the railroad. The town was created from the Spade Ranch Company store which was built at the cattle shipping point used by the Spade Ranch. The area has a storied past that still lives on today. The Nebraska Cattlemen's Association started out as the Nebraska Stockgrowers Association and held its first meeting in the Spade Ranch Company store. The Spade Ranch Company Store was renamed the Morgan Store after it was purchased by a former Spade Ranch cowboy and famous rodeo champion, Veldon Morgan, in 1971. Morgans Cowpoke Haven is currently run by Wade Morgan, son of the legendary Veldon Morgan. The store was listed on the National Register of historic places in 2010. A western tack and saddle company employing over 200 workers once flourished here and provided goods to Cabelas. The workshop closed in 2000. The store is a community hub and provides everything from horse tack and guns to biker gear. You can get a sandwich and a cup of coffee and probably a good story or two.
The Spade Ranch was established in 1888 by Bartlett Richards and the ranch is located approximately 25 miles northeast of the townsite of Ellsworth. The ranch has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. The Spade Ranch took its name from its brand, the Ace of Spades, which is still in use today. This historic ranch once spread across over 500,000 acres in Sheridan and Cherry Counties in Nebraska. Over 60,000 head of cattle grazed on open ranges of the Spade Ranch. The Spade Ranch at one time had the beef contract with the Pine Ridge Agency for 6,000 cattle. After the passage of the Kinkaid Act and the encouragement of the government to populate the sandhills with homesteaders, Bartlett Richards and his brother in-law William Comstock ran afoul of the Federal government by fencing in government lands for grazing their cattle herds. Both men were eventually indicted and imprisoned at Hastings, Nebraska where Bartlett Richards died at age 49 years old. The Spade Ranch is currently owned by the Bixby family.