On Pure Nebraska, we enjoy traveling to see some of the great rural churches of our state. The Dry Valley Church certainly fits the bill.
The church is located north of Mullen in a valley about two or three miles off Highway 97 in southern Cherry County. "We celebrated our 100 years in 2011," church supporter Judy Ridenour said. "In 1910, there was a circuit rider that came through here. His health failed, and then they sent out a minister, who started the actual revival of the area, or saw the necessity for Christianity or a meeting place. I credit him with the seed of the church. In 1910, the community got together and decided that a church needed to be built."
A masonry man lived near the church site, and started to make bricks out of blowout sand. He made bricks through the winter of 1911, and in the spring of 1912, the effort began to build the church. By December 12 of 1912, there was a dedication service. The Dry Valley Church served as an active church since 1958. "In 1937, I was actually baptized here as a child," Ridenour said.
When you come across the Dry Valley Church, you really get a sense of the distance between locations in the Sandhills, and the wide expanse of the area. Ridenour says this church meant a great deal to parishoners decades ago, and it still means a lot to people today. "I had a lady that came from Michigan to see the church. She said traveled internationally to many big cathedrals, but when she came here, she was just in awe over the simplicity, the silence, and the honesty of the area. To her, she said it surpassed anything she had seen before," Ridenour said.
Supporters of the church have been working hard to restore it over the last several years, and now it's looking good both on the outside and inside. As you can imagine, there is always more work to do, but the goal is to continue to preserve the church, and keep it around for future generations to enjoy. In 2015, a historical marker was put on Highway 97 a few miles east of the church, and the church is now on the National Register of Historic Places.