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The Book of Names

Plain and unremarkable, the black binder usually sits on a small coffee table in Fort Atkinson State Historical Park’s visitor center. But inside, it contains a remarkable picture of Fort Atkinson: Its pages list the names of everyone known to have lived at the fort, along with details about them that can reveal personalities, backgrounds and their futures. Susan Juza, Fort Atkinson’s long-time curator and a passionate lover of history, began the project as a relatively new employee at the …

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Sketching Ash Hollow in 1851

Imagine sitting in a darkened theater watching a giant canvas on stage. The canvas is spooled at either end and advances like a giant scroll. Painted on the canvas are scenes of the Oregon Trail. A narrator describes the great journey that thousands of your fellow citizens are making. The giant scroll was called the Pantoscope, and it was big hit in Eastern theaters in the 1850s. Designed and promoted by entrepreneur J. Wesley Jones, it was based on sketches …

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Victoria Springs State Recreation Area

An Oasis at the Edge of the Sandhills Victoria Springs State Recreation opened in August 1925, an estimated 4,500 people attended the celebration. These days, around 6,000 people visit in an entire year. It’s a quiet little park, which is exactly why those who visit do so. Some folks will say the 60-acre park is in the middle of nowhere. But that isn’t true. It’s only 6 miles off the beaten path of Nebraska Highway 2 if you head west …

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Buffalo Bill’s Big House

The Wild West built this house. At first glance, an 18-room French Second Empire-style mansion might not strike you as “Western,” but take a look at that huge barn! This is what a Western man would build for his family if he found himself with a lot of extra money in the 1880s. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody came to Nebraska in 1869 as a Fort McPherson cavalry scout. Later he made his fortune as a showman. Buffalo Bill’s Wild …

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Est. 1921 – Chadron State Park

Western Eden, Where It All Began Under the headline of “Western Eden,” the front page of the July 8, 1921, Chadron Journal proclaimed that the Nebraska Legislature had “builded better than it knew” by creating its first state park. “For years to come all of Nebraska’s citizendom can point with honest pride to Nature’s play ground near its western boundary. It is an inspiration to view this locality, and to walk its cool shady paths with the knowledge that it …

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A Parks Timeline

Marking 100 Years When Nebraska became a state in 1867, parks — let alone state parks — weren’t needed. Nebraskans of the day, and for years to come, were building homes, farms, businesses and towns, and with all of that work to be done, there was little time for leisure. But the conservation movement had begun, heightening the nation’s awareness of its pristine natural resources and prompting the launch of efforts to preserve them for future generations. The movement led …

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Becoming Arbor Lodge

Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska City features a small house that became a 52-room mansion. It belonged to Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton and later to his son, Joy, the founder of Morton Salt. When was Arbor Lodge built? That’s complicated. It began as a two-room house in 1855. During the elder Morton’s lifetime, the house was remodeled seven times, evolving in style as it grew in size. After Morton’s death, a major addition by Joy more …

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Merritt Fish Attractors

MerrittFishAttractors2021b

Got this note from Brandon Maahs, one of our field biologists in north-central Nebraska: Need a new fishing hotspot? Be on the lookout for new artificial habitat structures in Merritt Reservoir this year. NGPC Fisheries staff have built and are ready to deploy at least 30 modified Georgia Cubes. Years of siltation, erosion, and decay of submerged trees has reduced the overall habitat complexity within Merritt Reservoir. Adding artificial habitat, such as these PVC cubes, can help replenish degraded natural …

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Corn Your Own Wild Game or Beef for St. Paddy’s Day

*Blogger’s Note: Once again I am receiving a lot of requests for corned meat recipes because Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the bend. So, I am bringing back my blog about corning beef and wild game. I hope you find it informative and have the time to try one of these delicious recipes. I raise my glass to you and exclaim: “Sláinte!” (slawn-cha), which is an Irish Gaelic term meaning “health.” Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! GW. Saint Patrick’s Day is …

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Buttes of the Breakout

The Cheyenne Buttes provide one of the most scenic vantage points in the Pine Ridge. They also are forever tied to an event from Fort Robinson State Park’s history as a U.S. Cavalry post and got their name from a notorious event. Historians rate the happenings of Jan. 9, 1879, among the most significant events of the Indian Wars. While that day is certainly important, it is just one day among a period of more than three months. The previous …

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