America’s great agricultural expansion started in Gage County near Beatrice, which is home to the 211-acre Homestead National Monument of America. The Monument preserves the era of expansion westward in the United States spurred by passage of the Homestead Act. The Monument is located on the homestead site of Daniel Freeman, the first to apply for “free land” under the program.
The Monument’s Heritage Center has interactive exhibits explaining immigration, agriculture, Native Americans, and the prairie ecosystem. A 100-acre restored tallgrass prairie provides a glimpse of the once-expansive grasslands that dominated the homesteader era. The Freeman School was the longest running one-room school in Nebraska and has been restored to its 1870s appearance at the Monument. 8523 Highway 4. (402) 223-3514.
Some mornings, you can smell the sweet aroma of candied apples, nuts and liquor wafting through the downtown from Beatrice Bakery Co., which has a retail store and can arrange tours of the facility. 201 S. 5th St. (402) 223-2358.
Ervin Dixon fires salt-glazed pots, mugs, baking dishes and other stoneware in his 1895 former Lutheran church studio. Cedar Creek Pottery is seven miles east of Beatrice. 37639 S 80th Rd. (402) 228-0138.
The Gage County Historical Society Museum has a large research library and exhibits focusing on local history of the railroad, medicine, industry and agriculture. Many of these items can be seen nowhere else in Nebraska. 101 N. Second St. (402) 228-1679.
For more information about Gage County, contact Beatrice Chamber of Commerce and Tourism at visitbeatrice.com and (402) 205-3292.