Puzzling Times – Omaha 1915 edition #5

Today we have for you the fifth panel in the series of panoramic photos shot by Father Rigge and Alphonse Schmitt. The first half of today’s blog post will focus on the hunt to find the panorama panels. We would like to thank Karl for putting together the write-ups and doing all of the research for these Rigge blogs.

Finding the Panorama Panels: Part 1

In the first post in this series we briefly looked at some of Fr. Rigge’s prior attempts to produce a panorama of the area surrounding Creighton University. One interesting aspect of the version of Fr. Rigge’s Memoirs compiled by the Archives was that Fr. Rigge incorporated into the first chapter his original camera obscura drawings along with descriptions of what could be seen in them. When the time came to add the Memoirs to the CDR the inclusion of those images in the main body of the Memoir served as the inspiration that copies of the images from his other attempts could serve as interesting supplementary materials for the Memoirs CDR record. Of the different attempts the two successful efforts by Alphonse Schmitt, the 1913 series from the observatory and the 1915 series from the university tower, would be the ideal choices.

Fortunately, Fr. Rigge noted in his Memoirs that he had published the 1913 series in an article in Popular Astronomy that same year, an article that we had already scanned and added to the Rigge Papers collection. So, it was a simple matter to extract those images from the article, clean them up, and compile them into a PDF supplement for the Memoirs’ main record. Of greater interest, however, was the 12-part series from 1915, which, like the camera obscura drawings, Fr. Rigge had taken the time to describe in his Memoirs pointing out points of interest and including other historical notes. Unfortunately, when we contacted the Archives to see if they had access to the negatives of these images Fr. Rigge mentioned as being stored in observatory we were informed that they had been lost during the process of cleaning out the observatory when it had been closed. Thus, we were left with having to determine an alternative source for those images, a process we will discuss in the next part of this series.

Today’s puzzle is a view from the Northeast by East. This puzzle may look familiar to some, I apologize for any confusion, on Tuesday I accidentally published the puzzle that was meant to go up today, it has since been updated. Some of you have already played this puzzle, so if you would like a new puzzle for today, Tuesday’s actual puzzle can be found here. -TH


Image A – Holy Family Church church located on 16th and Izard. Holy Family parish was formed in 1876 to serve Omaha’s growing Catholic population. The third Catholic parish formed in Omaha it was intended to serve the growing population of Irish Catholic workers settling in North Omaha along 16th and 17th streets. The building seen here was the third home for the parish following a temporarily repurposed school building and an earlier failed attempt at constructing a church that never moved beyond the completion of the basement. Constructed in 1883 the building includes space for a school, which was viewed as a priority at the time, and an attached rectory. Construction was overseen by Fr. Robert Shaffel, S.J. the first President of Creighton University. The Jesuits would oversee the parish from 1881 until the establishment of St. John’s parish in 1890. The building still stands today, albeit with some cosmetic changes particularly to the bell tower so prominent in this image. The decision was announced in spring of 2020 to merge the parish with St. Frances Cabrini, although the building will continue to be used for outreach to the homeless and others in need.1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Image B – Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Synagogue peeking through the surrounding trees. Lithuanian Orthodox Jews held their first services in Omaha in 1883 and formed the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol congregation in 1897. The building we see here was built for the congregation in 1911 at 19th and Burt. Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol would combine with B’nai Israel in 1950 to form Beth Israel. The building seen here was demolished in 1960.1 2 3 4 5

Image C – Illinois Central Swing Bridge, also called the East Omaha Bridge, over the Missouri River. The bridge consists of two swing spans with the first constructed in 1893 for the Illinois Central Railroad. With the addition of a second span in 1903-04 the bridge became the longest example of its type through at least 1914. The bridge still stands although it is no longer in use, with one span left in the open position to accommodate barge traffic on the river.1 2 3 4 5 6 7