Gage County is home to 14 towns and villages. Each town or village has their own unique history to tell.
Beatrice is the largest city and county seat of Gage County. Attractions to see within the community include the Gage County Historical Society, Beatrice Public Library and the Gage County Courthouse.
Heritage Highway 136 (U.S. Highway 136), one of Nebraska’s scenic byways, passes through Gage County and Beatrice. Following the Byway westward you will find the Gage County Historical Museum. The museum is located at the corner of Second and Court Streets and houses historical displays of Gage County from the turn of the century to present day. The museum is nestled near the junction of Indian Creek and the Big Blue River. The river runs through Beatrice and Gage County and was instrumental to the settlement of the area.
Continuing west on the Byway, and north onto State Highway 4, the trail leads to Homestead National Monument of America and the Homestead Heritage Center. The Homestead National Monument of America tells the story of the Homestead Act of 1862. The Heritage Center is a state-of-the-art, award-winning facility, with spectacular views. The unique roof line resembles a single-bottom plow moving through sod. The center is interactive and shows early life on the prairie.
Near downtown Beatrice is Ratigan-Schottler, located one block south of Heritage Highway 136 on Second Street. It is the leading supplier of solid oak pews, chairs and chancel furniture. Also nearby is Beatrice Bakery Company, Home of Grandma’s Fruit and Nut holiday cake and other baked desserts. This company has been located at 201 S. 5th since 1924.
The surrounding villages and towns have unique historical attractions. Odell has the Old West Trails Center, Wymore is home to the Great Plains Welsh Centre, Filley has the Filley Stone Barn and Barneston has the Otoe Indian Mission School.
Did we forget to mention three golf courses, baseball and softball diamonds, a live theater, stock car racing, rifle club, archery club, family aquatic center, YMCA, skate park, Rolla-Rena, microbrewery and a 5-mile concrete bike/walking trail?
For more information, visit us at www.visitbeatrice.com • 4o2-205-3292
Gage County Firsts
- Oregon Trail first enters Nebraska in Gage County.
- First Christian Scientist Church west of the Missouri River.
- First electric car manufactured west of New York City.
- Nebraska Teacher first published in Beatrice.
- Nebraska Press Association started in Beatrice.
- A doctor from Beatrice helped to design first X-ray machine in Nebraska.
- Gage County was the first to have rural electrification in Nebraska.
- Beatrice was the first to have direct-dial telephones in Nebraska.
Entrance to the monument, museums, exhibits, programs, and all events are free of charge. You can explore the Homestead Heritage Center, the monument’s new award-winning museum and visitor center. Interactive exhibits, a new film, a log home built nearby in 1867 and a bookstore are all found at the Heritage Center. West-facing windows offer a sweeping view of 100 acres of restored tallgrass prairie.
Over 2.5 miles of walking trails wind through prairie and woodland. The Homestead Education Center features a bookstore, large farm implement exhibit, picnic facilities and traveling exhibitions. The one-room Freeman School, constructed in 1872 and still on its original location, stands as a reminder of the importance of public education on the frontier. Ask about visiting the Freeman School with a park ranger. Individuals, families and large groups are welcome.
Activities are available for children and adults. The monument is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. Special events take place throughout the year. Call (402) 223-3514 or visit www.nps.gov/home for more information.
HOMESTEAD NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
8523 W. State Highway 4, Beatrice
“FREE LAND!” was the cry!
One of America’s National Park Service sites is located 4 miles west of Beatrice in Gage County. Homestead National Monument of America commemorates the many impacts of the Homestead Act of 1862. Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, the Homestead Act offered 160 acres of free land to any qualified individual willing to live on, farm, and improve it for five years.
Single women and widows, most immigrants, and African Americans all qualified to be homesteaders. The Act became effective on January 1, 1863, and remained active until 1986. During those 123 years, over two million individuals and families claimed land under the Homestead Act and settled approximately 270 million acres of land.
Today, there may be as many as 93 million homesteader descendants throughout the world. The Act increased America’s agricultural production and expanded the Industrial Revolution. It brought immigrants from dozens of nations to America in search of land and homes. American Indians were further displaced from many of their traditional lands, and many western ecosystems were forever altered.
Homestead National Monument of America is a unit of the National Park System located 4 miles west of Beatrice. The monument interprets the impacts of the Homestead Act of 1862 on the United States and the world. Visit the award-winning Homestead Heritage Center to see interpretive exhibits, an 1867 log cabin, and a 23-minute film. Over 100 acres of restored tallgrass prairie can be explored on 2.5 miles of walking trails. The Homestead Education Center features farm implement exhibits and the Freeman School is a reminder of the importance of public education on the frontier. Individuals, families and large groups are welcome. Activities are available for children and adults. Special events take place throughout the year.
The monument is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call (402) 223-3514 or visit www.nps.gov/home for more information.
Gage County Historical Society Museum Hours
Tues. – Fri. 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sun. – 1:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Open Saturdays, Memorial Day – Labor Day
Closed Mondays and all major holidays
Gage County Historical Society Museum is located where Beatrice was founded in 1857. The Society’s collection offers an insight into the People, Railroads, Industries, Medical, and Agricultural history of Gage County. The Society has an extensive photograph collection. Some of the exhibits include Dempster windmills, the oldest manufacturer in the nation; Beatrice Foods; actors: Robert Taylor and Harold Lloyd. Each town within the county is represented.
The north wing houses the medical history of Gage County and the Layman Memorial Room is for rotating exhibits. The entire collection is housed in a 1906 Burlington Passenger Station. This Neo-Classical Revival-style building was chosen especially for Beatrice to reflect the growth and affluence of the city. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Society has a willing staff available to guide genealogists in finding those lost Gage County relatives. The Society’s collection includes obituaries, county history books, cemetery and marriage records, photographs, numerous newspaper articles and a whole host of other possible options to guide the researchers in their quest.
FILLEY STONE BARN
13282 East Scott Road, Filley
Filley Stone Barn, was built in 1874. This National Register site is the largest limestone bank barn in Nebraska. A fortuitous event initiated the building of this three-story native limestone barn. Drought conditions and the grasshopper invasion caused many farmers to leave the land and return back East. Knowing the success of the county depended on the farmers staying, Elijah Filley hired the men to stay and help build his barn. The barn stands today as a tribute to those early farmers. Living history demonstrations are held at the barn in October. Special group tours available. The barn may be viewed from the outside at any time.
GREAT PLAINS WELSH HERITAGE CENTER
307 S. 7th Street, Wymore
(402) 645-3186, (402) 645-3282,
The Great Plains Welsh Centre tells the story of early Welsh settlers on the prairies of North America, and of their Welsh-American descendants, through interactive displays, artifacts and oral histories. The Centre contains exhibit areas, a library and archive, an auditorium with a digital theatre for showing Welsh films, a gift shop, a serving kitchen for preparing Welsh teas, and a genealogic data base of Welsh American families. An 80-foot-long mural depicting the emigration experience, painted by famous muralist David Loenstein, occupies the north wall of the building. Below it is a memory garden whose gentcurving stone path contains over 200 dedicated pavers. It offers an inviting place to sit and enjoy the many Welsh daffodils that bloom each spring. The building and garden are handicap accessible.
The Centre hosts many events, including the biennial Welsh Heritage Festival, presentations by Welsh scholars of the “Welsh Diaspor” of the 19th century, and celebrations of Welsh figures such as St. Dwynwen, patron of lovers, St. David, Patron Saint of Wales, and Owain Glyndwr, who very nearly threw off the yoke of English domination of Wales in the 1400s. A Community Coffee is held annually on the Friday morning before Christmas. The Centre is regularly open on Sunday afternoons in the summer months, or by appointment. Group tours welcomed.
OLD WEST TRAILS CENTER
301 Main Street, Odell
Located near the former Oregon Trail and Overland Stage Line, the Old West Trails Center is a well-preserved example of the architecture of 1885. Built of locally quarried limestone of that period, the building has undergone recent renovation with funds received from the Nebraska Department of Roads and contributions from individuals, organizations and businesses.
Visitors of the museum may enjoy over 100 feet of interior murals celebrating local transportation history, as well as access oral, written and visual history. Open one of the “hands on” learning boxes and touch a real buffalo hide.
Special programs are presented once a month on Sundays. The Center is open every Sunday afternoon from 1-3 p.m. in April through December. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, in conjunction with the annual Odell Craft Fair, “Songs of the Season” is presented.
Special tours are welcome. To arrange a tour, call: (402) 766-4275 or (402) 766-3780
VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK
1050 S. 6th, Beatrice
(402) 223-4041 Ask for Verdella
Veterans Memorial Park was dedicated on May 31, 2005. The mission of this project, adopted by the Beatrice Rotary Club in recognition of Rotary’s 100th Anniversary, was to build a permanent memorial park to honor the military men and women of the United States who served or are currently serving our country. The Memorial Plaza was created using five points of a star, with a flag pole and flag on each point, recognizing the branches of service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The center of the Plaza provides the stage for the United States flag. Planting beds, surrounding the plaza, and the tree arboretum add to the serenity and beauty of the park. The “Walls of Honor” honor all men and women who have served our country. Over 1,500 veteran inscriptions have been placed on the Walls of Honor and inscriptions continue to come in on an on-going basis.
The History Walk, consisting of pictorial plaques, was installed during the Spring of 2009. The plaques contain photos and historical text depicting how our community and area veterans “Answered the Call” since 1875 to the present. This piece of the park serves as our commitment to educate visitors of the local history and its commitment to the freedom efforts of our country.
Hunting, Fishing, Camping & Parks
ARBOR STATE PARK
Located in Wymore. Offers six camping spots with electrical hookups.
ARROWHEAD WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
3 miles east of Diller. Hunting of deer, dove, pheasant, quail, rabbit and waterfowl. 320 acres (152 acres of crop, 57 of pasture, 44 of timber, and 67 of water).
BEAR CREEK WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
805 Dorsey Street, Beatrice
4 miles north and 2.5 miles east of Beatrice. Hunting and fishing opportunities.
BIG INDIAN LAKE/RECREATION AREA
15 mi. S. of Beatrice on U.S. Highway 77 & NE Highway 112, 3 mi. E. on NE Highway 8 1/2 mi. N., Beatrice
6 miles east of Odell on Highway 8. Fishing, hunting, boating, swimming, tent camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, and cross country skiing are allowed.
9th & Grable, Beatrice
20 camping units with electrical & sewer hookups, water hydrants and grills.
CLATONIA 3A LAKE
805 Dorsey, Clatonia
1 mile north of Clatonia. 46-acre lake. Fish for channel catfish and bullhead.
CUB CREEK HUNTING
Located at 24256 SW 142 Road west of Beatrice
Hunt pheasant and whitetail deer on more than 800 acres of prime hunting ground. Guided and nonguided hunts.
DIAMOND LAKE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
3 miles west of Odell on Highway 8
378.79 acres of pasture and 26 acres in water. Hunting for deer, dove, pheasant, quail, rabbit, squirrel, and waterfowl.
DONALD WHITNEY MEMORIAL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
3.5 miles west of Odell on Highway 8
Hunting allowed. 50 acres with 36 in pasture and 14 in water.
South 6th & Cole Streets Beatrice
Fenced dog run areas.
INDIAN CREEK LODGE
48678 SW 45th Road, Odell
Located on farm near Odell. Living quarters, game hanging & cleaning area.
IRON HORSE TRAIL WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
East of Beatrice near Highway 4. Hunting dove, pheasant, quail, squirrel, and rabbit on 14 acres of pasture.
OAK AVEN ACRES RV PARK
23490 SW 75th Road, Beatrice
14 camping units, all-weather location, with drive-thru parking. Electrical and sewer hookups; water hydrants.
Sumner & Pleasant, Beatrice
10 camping units with electrical hookups only. Water, restrooms, showers available. Boat ramp and river fishing.
ROCKFORD LAKE/STATE RECREATION AREA
57426 710 Road, Beatrice
7 miles east of Beatrice on Highway 136 and 2 miles south.150-acre lake. Primitive camping. Boating, fishing, picnicking and swimming beach. Power boating allowed. State Park Permits required.
7 miles south of Virginia. Hunting, fishing, hiking, and cross-country skiing are permitted. Restrooms & parking.
Gage County Courthouse
Gage County Museum
Homestead National Historical Park
Church pew made by Rattigan Schottler Manufacturing
Great Plains Welsh Heritage Center
Filley Stone Barn
Homestead National Monument event
Beatrice Country Club
Veteran’s Memorial Park
Freeman School at Homestead National Monument