Creation of Homestead Historical Park

Roosevelt Signing
Photo of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Public Law No. 480, 74th Congress creating Homestead National Historical Park while Nebraska Senator Norris and Nebraska Representative Luckey look on.

NPS Photo


With one stroke of the pen on March 19, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a new national park on the site of the Daniel Freeman homestead. The following words were included in the legislation:

"...lay out said land in a suitable and enduring manner so that the same may be maintained as an appropriate monument to retain for posterity a proper memorial emblematical of the hardships and the pioneer life through which the early settlers passed in the settlement, cultivation and civilization of the Great West."

J D Troyer Sod House
J D Troyer Homestead Sod House

S Butcher Collection

Extensive work went on behind the scenes for nearly 30 years to see that this site would be created. As early as 1909, concerned citizens of Nebraska had urged Congress to create a national park site on the Freeman property, the location of one of the very first land parcels claimed under the Homestead Act on January 1, 1863. However, it wasn't until 1925 that Senator George W. Norris, a powerful congressional leader from Nebraska, joined the fight to see the Freeman land preserved as a national park.

In 1934, the Homestead National Park Association was formed by several prominent Beatrice citizens. It was at this point that the movement to create the park began to solidify. Senator Norris had a proposal for the creation of the national park site before the U.S. House of Representatives by August, 1935. The Homestead National Monument Act was passed on March 16, 1936, becoming Public Law 480, 74th Congress. The newly-created Homestead National Historical Park was placed under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service continues to operate and administer the park today as a lasting memorial to all the settlers who built the American West.

Passenger Train
Steam Engine of Passenger Train

NPS Photo

In 1971, additional legislation was passed to add the Freeman School, an original one-room prairie schoolhouse, to Homestead National Historical Park. The Freeman School provides visitors an excellent opportunity to see what it was like to be a young student on the Nebraska prairie a century ago.


Click here to learn more about Senator George Norris and click here to learn about George Norris and the Rural Electrification Act.

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Last updated: March 14, 2022

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