The McArdle Mapping Mystery

In a world of technology, what do you do if your GPS system gets lost?

Our phones and navigation systems are supposed to pinpoint our locations within inches. So why do some towns that we never heard of show up?

Kevin Westhues has seen it happen.

"Over the years, it kept popping up more and more," he said.

Kevin lives in northwest Omaha. As a WOWT news producer, curiosity comes with the territory so he had to wonder about McArdle.

“On Waze, it shows McArdle at 156th and Maple,” he said.

Have you ever heard of McArdle, Nebraska?

Max Sparber, with the Douglas County Historical Society, dusted off a map from the late 1800s and did some quick navigating.

"This is downtown Omaha,” he said. “If you go west, here's McArdle, just north of Millard," but he’s not surprised it’s a mystery to most.

"I'm not sure anyone in Nebraska knows there was a neighborhood named McArdle," he said.

The McArdle Township was named after an early pioneer to the area: James McArdle. He came to America from Ireland. The local historians even have a photo of his old mill. Old Mill, of course, sounds more familiar to Omahans than McArdle. There are all sorts of business that carry that name in the 108th and Dodge area. You can thank McArdle for that.

Back to the technology question, how is it that GPS can tell us the street corner where we stand but can't get the town right?

Sparber said, “It has nothing to do with maps we actually use in Omaha. It's based on the official records that they're drawing from and some of those records use language we don't use in our everyday life."

While names can prove elusive over time, the ground beneath them hasn’t moved and that brings us back to McArdle. WOWT 6 News spoke with one of the descendants, a Judge McArdle in Wilber, Nebraska. He told us he wishes that back in the day the family would have held on to some of that valuable land.


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