- The Last American Highway May 17, 2015
The Neihardt Foundation encourages travelers and historians alike to take note of the May “Sunday Afternoon at the Museum” program. Author Stew Magnuson recently released The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma, (Court Bridge Publishing) a travel-history book that uncovers stories along the road that bisects the United States from north to south, and will be at the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site in Bancroft on May 17 at 5:00 p.m. for a presentation and book signing. Descending 1,885 miles down the center of the United States from Westhope, N.D. to Brownsville, Texas, U.S. 83 is one of the oldest and longest federal highways that has not been replaced by an Interstate. Magnuson takes readers through the Nebraska Sand Hills, the Smoky River Valley in Kansas and the singular Oklahoma Panhandle. Along the route are the stories of the famous, infamous, and the forgotten. Buffalo Bill Cody hunted these lands, but what about Buffalo Jones, who set out to save the American bison from extinction? This is where the ruthless, but now largely forgotten bank robbers, the Fleagles, committed their most heinous crime; where the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia met George Armstrong Custer and Pussy Cat Nell dispatched the corrupt Sheriff “Bushy” Bush with a shotgun blast. U.S. 83 ties President Eisenhower, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and author Truman Capote together. Magnuson recounts the story of the town of Audacious, the longest-lasting and largest African-American settlement in Nebraska, which lasted some 30 years in the depths of the Sand Hills north of Thedford, as well as the night in the 1990s when a clandestine truck carrying a nuclear weapon crashed along the side of U.S. 83. The story becomes personal for Magnuson, as he returns to his father’s hometown in Stapleton, and tells the story of his grandmother’s struggles during the Great Depression and the secret she kept from her family for decades. “This is a book of true stories connected by a ribbon of concrete that cuts right down the middle of the nation,” Magnuson said. He is the author of The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns, Nebraska Center of the Book’s 2009 nonfiction book of the year. Magunson also penned Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding, an account of the controversial 2012 Dakota Conference at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where members of the American Indian Movement squared off against retired FBI agents. Magnuson writes the Highway 83 Chronicles blog and set up the U.S. Route 83 Travel page, which gives tips to those who are interested in taking a trip on the road. All “SAM” programs are free and open to the public. Reception to follow the program.
- 50th Anniversary of Neihardt Day August 2, 2015
11:30 a.m. - 50th Anniversary of Neihardt Day
For more information, please contact the Neihardt State Historic Site at 1-402-648-3388 or 1-888-777-4667 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the site at 306 W. Elm Street, Bancroft, NE.