American Solar Challenge: Grand Island, Nebraska

The first checkpoint, a 45 minute stop, for the cars in the American Solar Challenge will be at the Stuhr Museum on July 14. Check the American Solar Challenge 2018 page for event details. Follow the race and related events on Facebook with: American Solar Challenge and Oregon National Historic Trail.

Grand Island, Nebraska: A Prairie Passage

Covered wagons moved along both sides of the gritty Platte River, which takes its name from a French word meaning “flat.” The treeless Nebraska plain made some emigrants feel exposed and vulnerable—especially when black thunderclouds threatened. Other travelers, though, found the flower-freckled prairie a place of beauty and wonder. Here, too, travelers began encountering that great icon of the Plains, the American buffalo. Many later recalled this as the easiest, most pleasant stretch along the westering trails.
Learn more at these stops between Grand Island and Kearney:

  • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (3133 W US-34, Grand Island, Neb.) Walk along original wagon swales, visit a Pawnee Indian earth lodge, and explore a “pioneer settlement” that interprets the 1850s-1860s road ranches—the truck stops of yore—that served emigration and freight traffic along the trail. See more exhibits inside. Open Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 12-5 p.m. Admission charged. From I-80, take Exit 312 onto US-34/US-281 North. Drive 4.5 miles and turn right onto US-34 E. Museum is ahead on the right.
  • Murdock Wagon Ruts (1.5 miles south of Alda, Neb.) Mormon emigrants passed this way first, but others soon followed. View original wagon ruts in this privately owned field. Enter Alda via westbound US-30. Turn south (left) on Link 40C/S. Alda Rd. and drive about 1.5 miles, and then turn west (right) on Guenther Road. Watch for a National Park Service wayside exhibit on the right.
  • Susan Hail Grave (3.5 miles west of Kenesaw, Neb.) Pioneer Susan Hail was a 35-year-old mother of six when she died en route to California in 1852. Her grave is on a branch of the Oregon Trail that approaches the Platte River corridor from northeastern Kansas. From I-80 take Exit 300 and turn south on NE-11 to cross the Platte River toward Prosser. Continue south on the main paved road for several miles, past the signed turnoff to Prosser. Cross 94th St. and continue for 2 more miles. Turn right onto 70th St. and drive 7.4 miles to the grave pullout on the north (right) side of the road.

Last updated: July 5, 2018

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