Homer's Travels: Sneezing Our Way Along The Heritage Highway

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sneezing Our Way Along The Heritage Highway

Sunday was another Nebraska Passport day.  This time we headed to the prairie and the city of Beatrice (It's not pronounced as you think.  It's pronounced be-AT-russ with emphasis on the 'a'.  Another strange Nebraska pronunciation).

Our first stop was about 30 miles west of Beatrice.  Located south of the unincorporated town of Jansen is the Rock Creek Station State Historical Park.  Rock Creek Station was a stage coach and pony express station located on the Oregon and California trails.  The station's claim to fame is being the location where Wild Bill Hickok shot David McCanles, beginning his gunfighting career.  After getting our passport stamped we headed down a mowed trail past pioneer graves, including one of an unknown school teacher, to the reconstructed buildings near the creek crossing.  First stop was the post office and a ranch cabin.

Following wagon wheel ruts, we walked to another grouping of buildings.  On the way we passed a man wearing a shirt that said "100% Red-Blooded American.  The Wife leaned in to me and asked sotto voice "Should I ask him what tribe he belongs to?"  This got us giggling all the way across the toll bridge to the east ranch grouping of buildings.

The other group of buildings consisted of a toll cabin, a pony express barn, and a bunkhouse.  In the barn an old local guy was giving black smith demonstrations to a group of kids and their parents.  We walked around, took some pictures, and headed back to the visitor's center.  We walked through the exhibits before buying a magnet and leaving in search of lunch.  Pictures of Rock Creek Station are here.

We stopped for lunch in Beatrice and then headed over to nearby Homestead National Monument.  Homestead is the only national park dedicated to an act of congress: the Homestead Act of 1862.  The visitor's center, a building with a sweeping roof line reminiscent of a plow blade, houses an impressive arrays of multimedia displays including a microphone where you can record your own memories of homesteading (The act was discontinued as late as 1976 - 1986 for Alaska).  We watched the movie and witnessed a balanced description of homesteading including its impact on the Native American populations.  Some of the Native American comments were quite poignant.

After getting both our Nebraska and the National Parks passports stamped, we stopped at the nearby Freeman school.  This one room schoolhouse was named after Daniel Freeman, the first Homestead Act applicant.  In the 1890's the school was in the center of a church-state separation struggle when Daniel Freeman objected to the teacher using bible verse in her lessons.  Freeman sued.  Freeman lost that suit.  Pictures of the Freeman School can be found here.

On the way home I counted my passport stamps and found I had ten.  I'd reached the first milestone that would get me a t-shirt.  Adding in my head the last three or four attractions that I could get on day trips, I realized I would never reach the next milestone of eighteen.  I decided right there that it wasn't worth the effort or the gas to get the remaining attractions within my reach so this will be my last Nebraska Byways Passport post.

One last thing.  After spending the day out on the Nebraska prairie, the Wife's and my allergies kicked into high gear.  We sniffled, snorted, and sneezed our way back home.  We decided that if we were pioneers we wouldn't have survived the first allergy season on the prairie.  We're both medicated today.  My pill seems to be wearing off so I think I'll go get another.


  1. 1st: I love the Wife's sense of humor, as always (and a small part of me wonders what Mr. 100%'s reaction would have been).

    2nd: Looks like an awesome day-trip (I really should take more).

    3rd: Looking at your side bar, how is it that it's 10 degrees warmer where you're at today?!?

  2. GH: The Wife can be funny. That's why I married her. You'd need a sense of humor to be married to me.

    It was a nice day trip - not too long, not too short.

    We are having a warm summer this year.

  3. Huh, who knew there was so much to do in Beatrice. I only went there for meetings and then back to Lincoln. Oh and God forbid you mispronouce Beatrice!! It's like Nevada -vs- Nevahda. I guess I can understand, because when someone says Nevahda, it just grates on me. The ones I know from Beatrice, call it "Beat Rice."

  4. Dobegil: Nebraska has a lot of treasures. I just wish they weren't so well hidden.