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If you've ever dreamed of owning a piece of the Wild West, Darlan "Doc" Rezac has a sweet deal for you.

Rezac is selling Front Street -- one of Ogallala's best-known tourist attractions -- for $1.25 million.

Front Street is a 16,000-square-foot replica of an old Texas trail town in downtown Ogallala, complete with restaurant, saloon, museum and gift shop.

"It's been under one ownership for 46 years. It's a nice-going business," said Rezac, who was part of a group of local businessmen that built Front Street back in 1964. "The only reason we're selling it is I'm 77. You can't do it forever."

They wanted to preserve the city's western heritage and let visitors see what Ogallala was like during the days drovers herded cows there from Dodge City, Kan. From Ogallala, the cattle were shipped to markets back East or sold to ranches in Nebraska and surrounding states.

A Nebraska historical marker describes the old lusty cowtown of Ogallala this way: "From 1875 to 1885 it was a wild, woolly cowboy capital where gold flowed across the gaming tables, liquor across the bar, and often blood across the floor."

When Front Street opened, it included The Crystal Palace saloon where cowboys and girls could buy cold beer; the Cowboys Rest, which sold sarsaparilla and buffalo burgers; a dance hall with nightly shows; the Ogallala House general store; and a funeral parlor, jail and Tonsorial Palace, according to Journal Star files. Tender-footed tourists could ride a stagecoach.

Rezac is the only surviving member of the group of the creators, who included Jack Pollack,then-president of the Chamber of Commerce, local banker Bill Olson and attorney William Padley and his son, Gary.

Rezac, a retired veterinarian, and his wife, Jeanne, are majority owners of the property, and they'd like to find a buyer who will carry on the tradition.

Over the past 12 months, according to Rezac's records, 59,486 visitors have stopped in to view Front Street attractions.

"It's a huge part of our out-of-town tourist draw," said Brenda Ketcham, executive director of the Ogallala-Keith County Chamber of Commerce.

Many come to see the summer theatrical show, which runs from Memorial Day to mid-August and just finished its 46th year.

"Three of our (dance hall) girls have been Miss Nebraska," Rezac said.

"I'm on a postcard that may still be floating around somewhere," said Ketcham, who is a theatrical show alumni. "Front Street means a lot to me."

Rezac said $1.25 million is a bargain for the property, considering it would cost $1.4 million to replace it without historical artifacts.

The decision to sell was made about two years ago, Rezac said, but it's been a low-key sales effort and not many people outside of Ogallala knew about it.

About a month ago, the couple listed Front Street with Woods Bros. Realty in Lincoln, and Rezac said several people have expressed interest.

"It's not often you get a business that is not in trouble -- for sale," he said.

Front Street was once listed on eBay but didn't receive any substantial bids, Rezac said. 

"I truly think it's a jewel," Ketcham said. "I think it would be a shame to let it go to someone who doesn't cherish it like we do."

Reach Algis J. Laukaitis at 402-473-7243 or alaukaitis@journalstar.com.

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