The community of Alliance was established as the railroad was being put into place across Nebraska in 1886. It was incorporated in 1888. The name “Alliance” was suggested by G.W. Holdrege, the railroad superintendent, who felt that the convergence of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad systems was adequately conveyed by this name.
The Homestead Act of 1862 provided 160 acres of free land to people, but it was not until 1904 that Moses P. Kinkaid sponsored a bill that changed the number of free acres to 640, that the offer was enticing enough to exert an impact on the population of Alliance. Alliance is, after all, located in the middle-of-nowhere, even still today. Over two hundred Buildings were constructed within the first 8 weeks of incorporation in 1888.
Three fires occurred between August 1892 and July 1893.
During World War II, in 1942, the Alliance Army Air Base drew in a larger population of people to the community. The population of Alliance was approximately 9,000 in 1988. Today, the population of Alliance is down to about 8,000 residents.
“Downtown Alliance is an old town, where many beautiful brick buildings carry the names of past owners and early 1900 dates (Potter, Reisdorff, Chambers, Carter, Hood, Graff, & Manley, 1988).” We chatted with a young lady at the local Cenex on Highway 2 in Alliance, NE in April of 2009 on our way through Alliance. She noted disgustedly the fact that the city has opted in recent years to tear down a lot of its historical buildings including the Drake Hotel and the old Army Base. She knew nothing of ghosts or paranormal events taking place in the old theater, but was very open to the idea of ghosts and the paranormal in general. Indeed, she had once lived in the other house listed for Alliance, Nebraska at Omahaunt as a paranormal hot spot for Alliance.
According to the Alliance Movie Theater owner, named Gerald Bullard, the movie theatre was The Charter Hotel in 1903 and was converted into a theatre in 1938. Indeed, Gerald Bullard does not discount the fact that some paranormal events have been known to occur at the theatre. He noted that “it’s a friendly ghost”.(Nebraska State Historical Society, 2006).
We tried discussing hauntings at the movie theater with other random Alliance locals in various locations throughout the city, but mostly found that people were rather tight lipped and perhaps tightly-minded about such things. The owner of the movie theater himself has reported paranormal events inside the theater, which lends credibility to the location as a place worthy perhaps of further investigation.
Box Butte Street is an old cobblesone street, obviously one of the original streets in Alliance. For people interested in seeing the inside of the theater, showtimes at the theater start at 7:15 PM.
Paranormal activity at this location was not recorded during the investigation by Nebraska Outback, a paranormal investigation group. However, the Shadowlands Haunted Index reports that a ghost named “Mary” walks the stage (Shadowlord, n.d.). The owner of the Alliance Movie Theatre notes feelings of uneasiness, the sounds of disembodied footsteps running down the aisles, and shadowy figures.
Interestingly, the story of “Mary” given at Shadowlands is very similar to the story of the Phantom of the Opera (Shadowlord, n.d.). Indeed, the chandelier that falls in the Phantom of the Opera and the light fixture that is said to have fallen on “Mary” is similar enough that it makes us feel pretty skeptical about this report. Often plots that have a strong resonating symbolism that appeals to humans on a deeper level are repeated over and over. The story of the Phantom is actually a copy of the Greek myth of Persephone, Demeter, and Hades and the story of the seasons.
Hamilton, E. (1942). Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. Warner Books, Inc.: New York.
Nebraska, Possibilities…Endless. (n.d.). Nebraska Outback. Retrieved March 18, 2008 from www.nebraskaoutback.com
NebraskaOuback.net (n.d.). NebraskaOutback.net Retrieved March 18, 2008 from http://nebraskaoutback.net/Page1.html
Nebraska State Historical Society (2006.). A Theatre Where Every Movie Is Scary. Retrieved November 4, 2008 from http://www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/mnh/weird_nebraska/theater_scary.htm
Shadowlord (n.d.). Shadowlands Haunted Places Index. Retrieved November 2 2008 from http://theshadowlands.net/places/nebraska.htm
Wikipedia (2008). The Phantom of the Opera. Retrieved November 2, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phantom_of_the_Opera_(1986_musical)