Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska

Hall County
Produced by
Kaylynn Loveland.

Hall County | Early History

Wild Game in the County | Indian Depredations | The Great Storm
Grasshoppers | Old Settlers | Saw and Grist Mills
Agriculture | Public Improvements


Grand Island:  Early History of Grand Island | U. P. Railroad Shops
Grand Island Buildings | Newspapers | Churches | Schools | Societies

 4 ~ 5:
Biographical Sketches:


Doniphan:  Doniphan Biographies
Wood River:  Wood River Biographies

List of Illustrations in Hall County Chapter

Part 3


[U. P. R. R. SHOPS.]

   This town is the county seat of Hall County. It is pleasantly located on the north side of the Platte River, a short distance therefrom, and on the level valley lands that extend far to the north. It is also on the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, the terminus of a freight division; the terminus of the St. Joseph & Western railroad; also of the Grand Island, St. Paul & Loup Valley Railroad. It will be seen that Grand Island is fast becoming a railroad centre, and it is already the largest town in Nebraska on the line of the Union Pacific Railroad west of Omaha, from which it is one hundred and fifty-four miles distant.

   From its fortunate location, in the centre of a fertile country, and with its railroad and other advantages, which are described on the following pages, Grand Island may be said to have prospects for future prosperity unexcelled by any town in Central or Western Nebraska.

   The plan of the town, as to streets, is about as follows: The streets which run east and west commence in Koenig and Wiebe's addition, below the brewery, at the southern limits of the town, and going north, are respectively: Anna, John, Louise, Charles, Koenig, Division, First, Second, Third, Front, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh.

   Beginning at the eastern limits of the city and going west, the streets that run north and south are as follows: Plum, Vine, Oak, Mulberry, Sycamore, Pine, Locust, Spruce, Walnut, Cedar, Elm, Cleburne, Eddy, Clark, Green, Lincoln, Washington, and Adams. By starting from the large and magnificent business house of Walbach Bros., on the corner of Third and Pine streets, it is easy for one not thoroughly acquainted in the city to find any given location. The principal business streets of the city are Third and Front and the intervening cross streets. The railroad extends through the city from east to west along the north side of Front street. On the north side of this street are the railroad freight houses, depot, old round house with twenty stalls, and the old railroad repair shops; and on the east side of the town, along the railroad, are the new railroad shops, now being erected at a cost of about $100,000. The other portions of the city are devoted to residences.


   The history of the present city of Grand Island begins with the date of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad. In the spring of 1866, the line of railroad having been surveyed, the Union Pacific Railroad Company laid out the town near to and just opposite the old Grand Island settlement, that has been described, and leaving the settlement between the new town site and the Platte River.

   The railroad was completed to this point on the 8th day of July, 1866, and on the same day the construction train was run as far west as the Grand Island station. George Loomis was engineer, and this train was drawn by the engine Osceola, which was, about two years afterward, captured by the Indians about six miles west of Plum Creek.

   The new town was named by the railroad company, Grand Island, from the large island in the Platte and from the original settlement of this name, which was established in 1857. The new town site covered a portion of the original town laid out by the settlers in 1857.

   The first depot established here consisted of a tent, which was the agent's office, and where all the railroad business was transacted. Besides this, there was built a small boarding house for the railroad employes. In the fall of 1866 the railroad eating house was built. This building was very small, however, and an addition was soon built, after which it was occupied for the intended purpose until the completion of the present large and capacious building, in December, 1875, when a part of the old building was bought by Fred Hedde, and removed to the southwest corner of Locust and Third streets, where it has ever since been occupied by him as a store and dwelling. The remaining portion of the old building was moved away and used as a residence by P. Touhey.

   The first dwelling in Grand Island was built by W. Stephens, on the corner of Locust and Front streets.

   The post office was established in the new town in November, 1866, with D. Schuller, Postmaster. About this time several new buildings were erected. Among the first was a store built and opened by M. S. Hall, a railroad contractor. Early in 1867 Koenig and Wiebe, the pioneer merchants of Hall County, removed their "O. K. Store" from its old site about one mile south of the town. About the same time W. R. McAllister and C. W. Thomas built and opened a store. Several other stores were also opened.

   For two or three years, however, after the settlement of the town and the building of several business houses and residences, it grew quite slowly, as the adjoining country was but sparsely settled, and the town naturally had to wait for the settlement of the country and the opening up of farms.

   But soon the heavy immigration to Nebraska commenced and Hall County began to settle very fast, and then again the town of Grand Island began to grow rapidly. A great many business houses were erected and opened. This great increase in the business facilities was fully warranted by the rapid settlement of the country tributary to the town. Settlers were coming in by the thousands, and Grand Island commanded the trade from all the northern country. To the east there was no town nearer than Columbus; to the westward the country was fast being settled, while to the south and southwest it commanded the trade for a distance as far as the settlements extended, and far up the Republican Valley country. But aside from the settlements in Hall County, the town derived the greater portion of its business from the settlements in the Loup Valley, which commenced in 1871, and extended fully a hundred miles from Grand Island. All these things gave new life to the town, and new stores were established and prospered.

   On December 6, 1869, about the time that the heavy immigration to this part of the state commenced, a United States land office was established at Grand Island.

   In 1871 the first bridge in the county was built just southwest from the town, at a cost of $15,000, and this contributed much to the business facilities.

   On July 1, 1870, the first newspaper in the county was established by Seth P. and Mrs. Maggie G. T. Mobley, and known as the Platte Valley Independent. It was removed from North Platte, where it was formerly published.

   In 1871 the first bank in the town was started and incorporated as the State Central Bank, and had a capital of $45,000. Its President was H. A. Koenig, and the Cashier was D. Heffleman.

   So rapidly did the town continue to grow that within a very few years it had about one thousand inhabitants, about half of them Americans and the other half Germans.

   The town had so increased in size that, early in the year 1873, it was determined to incorporate Grand Island as a city, which was done in the spring, with the following officers: R. C. Jordan, Mayor; W. H. Platt, Judge; and W. C. Buderus, Clerk. The Board of Aldermen were H. P. Handy, John Wallichs, H. N. Chapman, and L. Engel.

   After its incorporation as a city, Grand Island continued to increase in population and the number of business houses. July 16, 1873, the second weekly newspaper, the Grand Island Times, was established, and during the entire summer various improvements continued to be made.

   The city kept up its rapid progress until the summer of 1874, when the grasshoppers destroyed nearly all the crops and business came to a stand still. From the years 1874 to 1878, the progress of the city was slow. Trade in all its branches had become very dull. Many business houses, apparently strong, failed during this period. This depression in business resulted from several causes combined. During the earlier years of the settlement of this part of the State, Grand Island was the principal business point for the country many miles in all directions. As the other settlements in central and western Nebraska continued to progress, new towns were built. To the south the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was completed and new towns built on it, hence the trade from points far distant from Grand Island was cut off to a great extent. In the grand rush for the new city everything had been overdone. The town had grown far in advance of the country around it, and now it had to wait until the county and the country naturally tributary to it should be settled. The sudden rush of settlers that came for the few years after the completion of the railroad now nearly stopped. The crops had failed in 1874, and the crops for the next two years were rather light, which rendered business quite dull.

   During these four dull years, however, there had been some additions made to the settlement of the county. Every year the crops were becoming much better, and that of 1878 was a particularly good one, and the farming community was prosperous. New settlers were now coming in great numbers. From the above causes, the city began, now, to improve rapidly. There were many who located in the new city and building began to go on with increasing rapidity. So fast did settlement and improvements increase that by the spring of 1880 the population was about 3,000, and the business houses and residences which had been erected were of an exceptionally good character.

   In 1880 the city continued to progress, and with greater rapidity than ever before. Early in the year the sale of residence lots began on a large scale. During the year the sale of lots amounted to about $80,000, and one hundred and fifty-seven buildings were erected. A few of these were business houses of a substantial character, but by far the greater number were neat and attractive residences, most of which were built by the workingmen of the city. These are the men who make a city, and when they own their own houses it is an evidence of the thrift of the town in which they live. They too, then take an active interest in the progress of their town, and thus contribute to the success of public enterprises.


   In 1880 the Union Pacific Railroad Company located their shops here and at once began work on their new buildings. The future success of Grand Island was now assured. The new shops were to cost, when completed, at least $100,000, and would afford work for large numbers of men, and these alone would make Grand Island a prosperous little city.

   To secure the location of these shops the city of Grand Island voted bonds of $50,000, which were to be issued when the works of the company at this place reached the value of $100,000.

   In 1881 improvements throughout the city continued to go on. On the north side of the railroad track were built scores of neat and substantial residences. In various parts of the city were large and magnificent residences erected. Along the business streets were built large and capacious business houses. The population had so increased by the spring of 1882, that it numbered upward of 4,000.

   The Union Pacific Railroad shops, spoken of, are to be the very best on the line of the road on the Union Division. Work began on them in 1880, and has continued to the present time, but they are not yet completed. The plan of the yard and shops is as follows: The yard consists of one hundred and twenty acres, and is three quarters of a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, and is located in the eastern part of the city. There are to be nine buildings and beginning at the west end they are as follow: A coal chute 31 feet wide by 175 feet long; next, and a little further to the southward, is the round house with twenty stalls; a little further to the eastward a machine shop, 100 feet wide by 150 feet long, with an engine room 50 by 50 feet; south of this a blacksmith shop, 75 by 150 feet; east of the machine shop a turn table; south of this a building 50 feet wide by 180 feet long, to contain two offices and two store rooms; directly to the south, at the edge of the yard, an oil house, 40 by 60 feet; then in the centre of the yard comes the car erecting shop, 100 by 300 feet; attached to this on the south side is a car machine shop, 100 feet wide by 150 feet long; attached to this is an engine room, 50 by 50 feet; 100 feet east are two buildings, each 50 by 300 feet, the north one a car paint shop, and the other a car repair shop. The lumber yard lies south of the car shops.

   The above buildings are all to be built of a good quality of limestone, from the quarries of the company on the Beatrice branch of their railroad.

   Of the above buildings, three--the machine shop, blacksmith shop and car shop have already been built. The round house is just commenced.

   The machine shop is in size 100 by 150 feet, the walls 21 feet high, and the peak of the roof 46 feet, with a seven foot ventilator above. It contains three pits, 118 feet long, with room for another as soon as required. Twenty-two iron columns support the shafting. Four double doors on the west side enter the building. Fifty-seven windows furnish the light. Back of the engine room is a chimney 75 feet high and ten feet at the base. The roof is of slate. The other buildings now erected are fully equal to the machine shop.

   When completed it is estimated that the above shops and fixtures will cost fully $100,000.

   The old round house consists of twenty stalls. This, with the old repair shops, are situated further west and near the freight depot.

   The company already employ a large number of men at their shops and on their buildings. The fact, also, that Grand Island is the terminus of the St. Joe & Western as well as of the St. Paul & Loup Valley branch, makes it most decidedly a railroad town. This is the one material enterprise that makes Grand Island the prosperous and growing little city that she is.


   Foundry. Grand Island has also a good foundry located on the corner of Locust and Second streets. Edward Hooper is the proprieter, and it does quite a large and prosperous business. The history of the foundry is as follows: In October, 1878, it was established by Edward Hooper and the Ferguson brothers, under the firm name of Ferguson Bros. & Co. In the spring of 1881, the entire business was purchased by Edward Hooper, who has continued to enlarge the capacity of the factory, and is now doing a large business, and the foundry is in a flourishing condition. Mr. Hooper is a practical man, extending his business slowly but surely, and he proposes soon to erect new buildings and largely increase the casting facilities of the foundry. Mr. Hooper also runs a wagon making shop here.

   Wagon Shop. Stratmann Bros. are also proprietors of a wagon shop, and manufacture good and durable wagons. This establishment is located on Third street between Walnut and Cedar.

   Flouring Mills. The State Central Flouring Mills, H. A. Koenig, proprietor, does a large and prosperous business, turning out daily immense quantities of the finest quality of flour. The mills are run by steam power and are the oldest established flouring mills in the county. They were established in 1867, and were the first mills west of Fort Calhoun.

   Water Works. Grand Island has an excellent system of water works, which for protection from fire are of untold benefit. The business portion of the city is laid with mains, and there are hydrants on every corner, to which it is but the work of a moment to attach the hose. Water is furnished from twelve wells and pumped by one large steam pump in one of the railroad buildings, steam being kept up day and night. As early as 1874, two good fire companies were organized and since that time there has always been the very best protection against fire. This department is filled by experienced men.

   Banks. The State Central Bank is located on Locust, between Third and Front streets. This is the oldest established bank in the city, having been founded in 1871. It is in a prosperous condition, and does a large business, being the heaviest banking institution in the city. H. A. Koenig has been its President, since the date of its first organization.

   The Grand Island Banking Company have their banking house on Third, between Locust and Pine streets. It was incorporated in January, 1880, with a paid up capital stock of $40,000, and does a general banking business. It has a large and growing business. J. P. Kernohan is the cashier and has entire charge of the bank affairs in the city.

   C. F. Bentley is a private banker, with the bank on Third, between Locust and Pine streets. It was established early in 1880.

   The First National Bank of Grand Island has just been organized, with a capital of $100,000. S. N. Wolback, President; C. F. Bentley, Cashier; D. H. Veiths, Assistant Cashier.

   Hotels. The hotels of Grand Island are twelve in number. The Grand Island Railroad eating house is the leading hotel and is kept by Chauncey Wiltse. Several others are first-class houses, though the buildings are all rather small.


   The press of the city is moral and elevating in its tone, and in matters of local and general news is fully up to the times. It is progressive and its public-spiritedness has contributed much to the upbuilding of the city.

   The Platte Valley Independent is edited and published by Seth P. and Mrs. Maggie G. T. Mobley. It is a large quarto newspaper, Republican in politics and is published weekly. This paper was established at first at North Platte, in November, 1869. But on July 1, 1870, the proprietors removed it to Grand Island, where it has since continued to be published. It is ably conducted and has a large circulation.

   Seth P. Mobley was born in Washington County, Ohio, on January 15, 1845. In the spring of 1853, he removed with his parents to Henry County, Iowa. In 1855, he entered the office of the Advertiser at Mount Pleasant, and began to learn the printer's trade. In 1857, he went to Burlington where he attended school until the winter of 1861-62. In November, 1862, he enlisted in Company B, Seventh Iowa Cavalry. He went into the service in Colorado, Dakota and Nebraska. In the summer of 1864, he was made field messenger for Gen. Curtis and served in Missouri. He was then sent on provost duty in Southern Kansas. In June, 1865, he was ordered to Fort Kearney, Nebraska. Was soon detailed as government printer. Soon purchased the material and began the publication of the Fort Kearney Herald. Was mustered out at Fort Kearney, November 24, 1865. For four years after, he was engaged in the grocery and stock raising business. January 1, 1870, he entered into partnership with Mrs. Maggie G. T. Eberhart in the publication of the Platte Valley Independent at North Platte. July 1, 1870, they removed the paper to Grand Island where it has since been published. On December 9, 1871, he was married to Mrs. Maggie G. T. Eberhart.

   Mrs. Maggie G. T. Mobley, was born at Limerick, Ireland, October 23, 1848. Her father was a merchant. The family came to America the next year. Her father died in 1851. The next year she went to St. Mary's Convent, at South Bend, Indiana. At the age of sixteen taught school at Peoria, Ill. In early life exhibited literary taste. Removed to Omaha, October, 1867. To North Platte in 1869, where she taught one term of school and then, in company with Seth P. Mobley, started the Independent. Her name was then Mrs. Eberhart. July 1, 1870, they removed the paper to Grand Island. On December 9, 1871, she was married to Seth P. Mobley.

   The Grand Island Semi-Weekly Times, was established July 16, 1873, by Charles P. R. Williams. It is Republican in politics and has ever been a wide awake paper. It was published as a weekly, until January 1, 1882, when it was changed to a semi-weekly, and is now a seven column folio. The Times has a large patronage. In the spring of 1882, it was sold to W. H. Michael.

   The Herold is a German newspaper, established October 29, 1880, by Henry Garn and Charles Boehl. It is an eight page, six column paper, independent in politics. Owing to the large German element in the county it has a very large circulation. Henry Garn, the senior editor of the Herold, came to Nebraska, and located at Grand Island in August, 1866. He engaged in teaching school and was for a long time principle of the Grand Island schools. This position he resigned in the summer of 1879 and engaged in the insurance and collection business. He was also justice of the peace. In October he began the publication of the Herold. He was born at Berlin, Germany, April 29, 1842. Was educated at a military academy in his native town. He served in the Prussian army. In 1863, he came to America to participate in the War of the Rebellion, and enlisted as a private in Company I, One Hundred and Seventy-eighth New York Volunteers. He served until April, 1866, and was mustered out at Mobile. He then went to New Orleans, where he remained a few weeks, and then went to Grand Island, where he located. He was married March 29, 1874, to Miss Anna Genz, of Grand Island. They have three children: Henry, born May 17, 1876; Emma, born October 20, 1877, and Charles, born January 12, 1881. Charles Boehl, junior editor and half owner of the Herold, came to Nebraska and located in Grand Island, in the latter part of December, 1879. He worked as a clerk in a store until October, 1880, when, in partnership with Henry Garn, he began the publication of the Herold. He was born at Davenport, Iowa, June 5, 1859. Attended school there until fourteen years of age when he began clerking, which occupation he followed until coming to Nebraska, in December, 1879.


   Religion is almost universally respected. A large portion of the citizens are church goers. The several religious organizations have a large membership and are well supported. The community is moral and a strong religious feeling is rooted deep in their breasts.

   German Roman Catholic Church.--The first church built was the German Roman Catholic which was erected soon after the laying out of the present town of Grand Island. It was quite a fine church, but was blown down by a hurricane, in the summer of 1870. Sometime afterward it was rebuilt and is a very fine building, and is located on the southeast corner of Second and Walnut streets. The church has a membership of about 300. The Sunday school is large and in good condition. Religious instruction is given four times each week.

   St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is located on the corner of Second and Cedar streets. The church society was organized in the summer of 1871, and the erection of a church was begun soon after. This is a neat structure. The first church services were conducted by Right Reverend Robert H. Clarkson, Bishop of the diocese. Upon its first organization, R. C. Jordan was senior warden, and D. T. Jameson, junior warden; and it had ten communicants at that time. The Sabbath school was organized in 1870, by Mrs. Jordan with thirty scholars.

   The First Baptist Church is situated on the corner of Sycamore and Fourth streets. The society was organized in 1870, by Rev. J. N. Webb, State missionary, with only five members, but a church was soon built. It has now grown to a good organization, and the church building is a good one. Sunday school is held regularly with a good attendance.

   The Presbyterian Church is situated on Second street, between Spruce and Walnut. The church society was organized August 12, 1869, by Rev. Sheldon Jackson, under the auspices of the Missouri River Presbytery. The society then had five members, and Robert Mitchell and Samuel Hindman were elected elders. Services were not held regularly until, in February, 1875, Rev. Samuel Griffies held a series of services and the membership was increased to ten. Since that time the organization has continued to increase, having now upward of 100 members. The Sabbath school is in a flourishing condition.

   The Methodist Episcopal Church is situated on Pine street between Second and Third. The society was organized in February, 1872, by Rev. J. S. Smith. The Baptist Church was occupied for services, until March, 1874, after which they held their meetings in the court house, until the completion of their church the following summer. It was formally dedicated by Bishop Bowen September 30, 1874. The Sunday school has a large attendance and is in a prosperous condition.

   The Church of the United Brethren in Christ was organized early in the history of Grand Island, and on March 18, 1876, it was incorporated and measures taken to build a church, which was completed early in the summer, and on the second day in July, 1876, it was formally dedicated by Bishop Glossbrenner. The church has a good membership and is in a prosperous condition.

   The Evangelical Lutheran.--In the due course of events in the history of the town, this church was organized, and on the fifteenth day of March, 1882, it became incorporated. It had been organized for some time previous, and had already become prosperous and is making rapid progress.


   The educational interests of the city are regarded by its citizens as of the greatest importance. Early in the history of Grand Island, not only were good schools established but every effort made to instruct both old and young, and anything that tends to the educational advancement of the city, or of its inhabitants, is liberally encouraged. The school houses of the city are two in number, one on the south side of the railroad and the other on the north. The high school building is located in the southern portion of the city. It is a large brick edifice, built in 1879, at a cost of upward of $20,000. It has all the modern conveniences, and is a credit to the city. The north side school building has been found too small to accommodate the increase in attendance, and provisions are to be soon made for a larger structure. In April, 1882, bonds of $15,000 were voted, but have since been decided to be illegal. The school departments are eleven in number, and the schools are well graded, and all under the management of efficient teachers. It is intended that the high school course shall fit the graduate for entering upon a collegiate course, and to train him for the practical and business side of life.


   Ashlar Lodge, No. 33, A., F. & A. M., was organized October 5, 1870, under dispensation, and R. C. Jordon was appointed Worthy Master; O. A. Abbott, Secretary; G. E. Wilson, Senior Warden; S. J. Saxe, Senior Deacon; G. H. Thummel, Junior Warden; E. Munch, Junior Deacon; P. H. Baylor, Treasurer; W. Lloyd, Tiler. The lodge was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Nebraska, June 26, 1871, with G. H. Thummel, Worthy Master; and G. E. Wilson, Secretary. The lodge then had seventeen members, since which time it has continued to increase in numbers, having now about eighty members.

   Mount Lebanon Commandery, No. 6, K. T., was organized in the fall of 1874, with R. C. Jordan, Commander. Meetings are held each month, and the membership numbers about eighty.

   Deuel Chapter, No. 11, R. A. M., was chartered November 14, 1873, with Robert C. Jordan as High Priest; Wm. A. Deuel, King; and Geo. E. Wilson, Scribe. There was then a membership of sixteen which has now increased to over forty.

   Fidelity Lodge, No. 935, K. of P., is in a flourishing condition, and meets twice each month. J. W. West is P. D.

   Scottish Rite Masonry Lodge of Perfection, No. 2, an organization of Kinwinning, was organized several years ago and has an excellent membership. The Master, R. C. Jordan, is the active thirty-third degree for Nebraska, and is the highest officer in rank in the State, in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Some years ago he resigned his position, but at the meeting of the Supreme Council, in Washington, D. C., in October, 1880, he was again called to the position, which he has since occupied and discharged its duties faithfully.

   Sons of Temperance.--As early as October 2, 1873, the Sons of Temperance organized, with fifteen members. Horatio Thomas was W. P.; Alice Odell, W. A.; and J. J. Cash, R. S. The organization was for a long time very successful.

   Grand Island Lodge, No. 60, I. O. G. T., meets every week at Temperance Hall. The order has a large membership, and is in a flourishing condition.

   Grand Island Temple of Honor and Temperance has a large and effective organization, numbering among its members, some of the leading men of the city.

   Lyons Post, No. 11.--Early in 1879, Lyons Post No. 11, of the Grand Army of the Republic, was organized with G. H. Bush, Post Commander. From the first, this organization grew rapidly, and now it has an exceedingly large membership for the large number of ex-soldiers in Grand Island and vicinity. In numbers and effective working it now ranks one of the very first among the various posts in the State. Chauncey Wiltse is the present Post Commander.

   The Independent Order of Odd Fellows have a large and working organization here. Grand Island Lodge, No. 22, I. O. O. F., has a large and effectively working membership. It was organized several years ago and its progress has since been steady and rapid. Meetings are held weekly.

   Advance Encampment, No. 13, holds regular meetings each month, at Odd Fellow's Hall, over McAllister's store. The lodge is quite large and is in a flourishing condition.

   The Grand Island Building and Loan Association was incorporated September 30, 1881. The association is composed principally of the workingmen of the city, and its object is to encourage them to save their earnings, by being banded together for the purpose of combining their savings, which are invested either in buildings for tenants, or loaned at a reasonable rate of interest.

   The Grand Island Turnverein, or Turner's Society, was organized in October, 1874, and for many years held meetings at Hanns Park. It became a corporate body, January 15, 1878. It had a very large membership, but at the time Grand Island was visited by the writer, no meetings had been held for some time. But they had not disbanded, and it was expected that the meetings would again be resumed during the summer.

   The Liederkranz Society was organized in November, 1870, with John Wallichs, now State Auditor, as leader. The object of the society is to promote social culture, and further the advancement in music among its members. After its organization, the Union Pacific Railroad Company gave them two lots, and a building was erected in August, 1871. They now have eight lots, and the finest and largest hall in the city. Meetings of the society are held the first Sunday in each month. The membership is now very large, and the society is in a flourishing condition.

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