Tag Archives: Lincoln

Arapahoe To Lincoln

Did so much and learned so much while here in Arapahoe. Met so many wonderful people, all welcoming and happy to talk about life in the area.

Driving around, saw the long trains that opened up the region and still make it viable. As Cathy noted, they are vital to life out here, both carrying grain away and bringing goods into the area.

Passing through the Swedish community of Holdrege triggered a discussion of the people who settled the area. Largest group was German, but there were also significant numbers of Czech, Irish, English, Swedish, Hispanic, and African American settlers, with a good number of Asians and even some Pacific Islanders in the mix. There are also around 15,000 Native Americans in Nebraska.

Knowing that I’d be heading back across Iowa, Cathy explained that farms in Iowa are prettier than those in Nebraska, because in Nebraska, your taxes go up every time you improve the farm. Paint the barn, pay more taxes. That said, Nebraska is one of only a handful of states that are actually not broke, so at least they appear to spend the taxes wisely.

Then, after a lovely roast Sunday dinner, it was time to head east again, back to Lincoln. We drove across seemingly endless farmland—flat, fertile, and thirsty for rain.

Reached Lincoln by about 5pm. Even before heading for Jane’s house, we stopped at the city’s lovely Sunken Gardens. Always nice to see how other towns create beauty and interest.

Entering Lincoln's Sunken Gardens

Entering Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens

Jane’s son, Dan, joined us for dinner at their favorite Italian spot. Then back to Jane’s, to prepare for my departure tomorrow.

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Filed under Agriculture, Corn, Culture, Farming, Food, History, Midwest, Thoughts, Travel

Capitol View

Any visit to the Capitol should include a trip to the top of the 362-foot central tower, to get a view out over the city itself and, sprawling into the distance, the  plains that surround the city and define the region–the rich, flat land known as the Great Plains, which contributed so much to making the Midwest the splendid crop region that it is.

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As noted in an earlier post (Midwest Classic, Nov. 24, 2014), train tracks and grain elevators mark towns in the Midwest, and the size and number of grain elevators are indicators of both the size of a town and the size of the region it serves. The grain elevators in Lincoln are large and numerous–and easily visible from the tower.

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More history, more images, bios of the artist and architect, and information if you want to visit can all be found at the Nebraska State Capital website: http://capitol.nebraska.gov/index.php/building

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The Nebraska Capitol

Leaving the museum, I headed across town to the Nebraska State Capitol. Designed in 1920 by New York Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, the present building is the third to be erected on this site. It was the first statehouse in the country to adopt a design that dramatically departed from the prototypical form of the nation’s Capitol and to use an office tower.

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The building is suitably imposing, making it clear that it is a center of government. The decorations, inside and out, do a good job of capturing the eras, ideals, and aspects of Nebraska history, with a wealth of statues, bas-reliefs, murals, inscriptions, and decorative fixtures.

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Agriculture is highlighted everywhere. The statue that caps the tower is titled The Sower. This brass light fixture is another example, with its spray of wheat and ear of corn.

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Nebraska History Museum

Across the open plains and into Lincoln, Nebraska. Arrived in time for dinner with friend Jane, who suggested we dine at her favorite Greek restaurant. Lovely evening talking about corn and farming. (Jane’s dad was a farmer, and her mom still lives on the family farm.)

Next morning, I headed off for a day of exploring. Jane had contacted the Nebraska History Museum to arrange for a docent/guide for me, and the wonderful Jack Chaffin was waiting for me when I arrived.

Jack guided me through the excellent displays, which cover 10,000 years of Nebraska history. I won’t even try to share everything I learned, but here are a few highlights:

  • Of the many Native American groups that were here when Europeans arrived (Pawnee, Omaha, Ponca, Oto, Ioway, Sac, Winnebago, Cheyenne, and Arapaho), about half were moved to other states and about half adapted and are still living in Nebraska today.
  • Pawnee were one of the largest groups in the area, and the Skidi Pawnee was the largest Pawnee group. The Skidi brought Aztec astronomy with them when they moved north from Mexico. They grew four different colors of corn: red, blue, yellow, and white.
  • Ft. Atkinson, north of Omaha, had the first bowling alley in Nebraska.
  • Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte, an Omaha, was the first Native American to become a doctor, graduating, in 1889, at the top of her class from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, one of the first medical schools to accept women.
  • Because Nebraska is 1500 miles from both East and West Coasts, it was popular during World War II for military plants. Forty percent of all ammo used during WW II was made here, as were bombers and depth charges.
  • During World War II, camps for German and Italian POWs were located here. Many of the POWs happily worked on local farms, in place of the farmers who had gone off to war.

That is just a fraction of what I learned, but I hope it is enough to make you want to visit and learn more.

This wonderful museum is being renovated in 2015, so you may have to wait to see it, but it is well worth a trip to Lincoln. Here’s their website, so you can check and make sure it’s open before you plan your trip: Nebraska History Museum http://www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/mnh/index.htm

 

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