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Rose Creek Mausoleum

Tucked away in a sandstone outcropping in Jefferson County is an oddity that will amaze anyone who visits: a rock-cut tomb carved by hand a century ago. Nelson McDowell was reportedly a colorful character. And if you visit the “mausoleum” he carved out of a sandstone cliff overlooking Rose Creek in Jefferson County, and later learn that it may have simply been a hobby to keep him busy and in good health rather than a place he intended to be …

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How the Republican River Got Its Name

Have you ever wondered how the Republican River got its name? Gov. Frank Morrison, a Democrat, used to tease his Republican friends by asking, “Is it because it’s so shallow or so crooked?” Jokes aside, the connection to the party seems obvious, doesn’t it? With few exceptions, Nebraska has been majority Republican since the Civil War. But look at the center of this 1839 map detail from Mitchell’s School and Family Geography. The Republican Fork had its name long before …

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Fort Robinson: Exceptional Horses and Fine Fish

The ponds that attract anglers to Fort Robinson State Park played part in a rich history. Historians often tell of Fort Robinson’s period of producing the trusty steeds of the cavalry as a remount depot for the U.S. Army in 1919-1945. The fort’s role in rearing aquatic species that bolstered the region’s fishing heritage during that era gets less attention. During the 20th century, Crawford and Fort Robinson became an integral location for producing the fish that found their way …

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Restoring the Blowout Penstemon

On Turner Enterprises’ Spikebox Ranch “Blowouts are sort of like anchovies — you either love them or hate them,” wrote the late Nebraskaland writer Jon Farrar. Among the blowout lovers are “ranch children who for generations have slid down a blowout’s steep sandy slope [and] artifact hunters who currycomb them hoping to find an 11,000-year-old Clovis projectile point exposed by the wind.” Among the blowout haters are “Most ranchers [who] wage war on their blowouts. To some, they are seen …

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Ash Hollow State Historic Park presents “Pioneer Song,” a performance by The Great Bear Folk Theater

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – Join Ash Hollow State Historic Park as they present “Pioneer Song” performance by The Great Bear Folk Theater on Aug. 29 from 4 – 5 p.m. MT. The theater group, consisting of a husband, wife and daughter trio, will be presenting an hour-long production, adapted from the play “Pioneer Song.” The play recounts the perilous journey many emigrants faced while traveling the Overland Trail in the mid 1800’s. The Great Bear Folk Theater, based out of …

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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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