Ogallala’s Old West icon on auction block

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 12:00 am

OGALLALA, Neb. — One of the most recognizable reminders of Nebraska’s Old West past will be on the auction block next month.

The Front Street Steakhouse and Crystal Palace Saloon in Ogallala will be auctioned at 10:30 a.m. MST on Nov. 4 in the Crystal Palace Saloon. The property also includes a museum, gift shop, art gallery and event center space.

Once called the “Gomorrah of the West” by trail driver Andy Adams in 1875, Ogallala was the end of the trail for herds of longhorns. After months in the saddle, the cowboys who drove the cattle were ready for a good time in the saloons, dance halls and gambling houses in Ogallala.

In 1964, a group of Ogallala businessmen decided to capitalize on the town’s colorful past so they built the Front Street complex, designed to draw tourists interested in the Old West. They could eat Nebraska beef at the steakhouse and watch a lively theater show with singing, dancing and gunfights.

Darlan “Doc” Rezac is the sole surviving member of the original group. Along with his wife, Jeanne, he has operated Front Street for seven years.

A veterinarian by trade, Rezac retired and sold his clinic in 1990.

“I’ve always been silently active in the operation,” he said. “When the fellow who was managing Front Street decided to leave, we kind of stepped in.”

Now in his 80s, Rezac is ready to move on.

“It’s been our life but it is time to do something for ourselves,” he said. “It’s a going business auction, not a forced auction.”

Front Street has been a favorite stop for locals and tourists. Featuring the Crystal Palace Revues, Front Street is known as the state’s longest running summer stock production.

The show celebrated its 50th consecutive year this past summer.

“We’ve had three young women in the cast who went on to be Miss Nebraska,” Rezac said. “The show has been an opportunity for local kids to get stage experience.”

Having Front Street as an attraction in town has been good for the community, he said.

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