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Historic spot once patronized by Buffalo Bill

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 10:09 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2021 at 10:15 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During a visit to Columbus, we got a tour of Glur’s Tavern, which is said to be the oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Missouri River.

Todd Trofholz owns the tavern now with his wife, Carrie. He says Glur’s was built back in 1876 by a man named Joseph Bucher. “His brother came over a year or two later,” Trofholz said. “They were Swiss immigrants. Joseph took off to California to get into the vineyard business, while his brother William stayed here. William ran the tavern from 1879 to about 1914. In 1904, they hired a saloon helper named Louie Glur. Louie saved up enough money to take over the tavern in 1914. He ran it until 1931 when he died of pneumonia. When that happened, his two sons took it over, along with their uncle. They ran it from 1931 until 1968. The sons were both bachelors, so it eventually was turned over to their older sister, Elinor. She and her husband Gus Viergutz ran the business from 1968 to about 1977. Then, a man named Brian Gaver ran it from 1977 until 1992. That’s when my wife and I moved back from Omaha to Columbus, and we started running the tavern.”

It’s believed the Buffalo Bill Cody frequented the saloon. “There are recollections of Buffalo Bill being in Columbus on six different occasions,” Trofholz said. “He was good friends with the North brothers. They were Pawnee Indian Scouts together, and they actually got into the cattle business together in the North Platte area. The story goes that when one of the North brothers died in the 1880′s, Buffalo Bill came back for the funeral. The procession came right down 11th street past the tavern, and it went all the way to the cemetery. Later, Buffalo Bill supposedly came down to the bar with the rest of the funeral party, and he told William Bucher he wanted to buy the house a round. He pulled out a $1,000 bill to pay for it. That’s the legend of the story.”

Glur’s Tavern has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972, when Gus and Elinor Viergutz owned it. “There’s also a trade publication called the Beverage Analyst,” Trofholz said. “They had a contest to find out what’s the oldest tavern west of the Missouri River, or oldest tavern in the west. Glur’s Tavern won that contest. It’s deemed the oldest tavern west of the Missouri.”

The tavern is used today in many ways. “The place has always been a gathering spot,” Trofholz said. “We are known for our hamburgers, and we get day-trippers from Omaha, Lincoln and many other places that like to come and check out what the business has to offer.”

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