Okay, I can hear you – “Bug-eating state? What’s that about?” Nebraska has had only two official nicknames, “The Tree-planters State” from 1895 to 1945, and “The Cornhusker State” since then. The first referred to the millions of trees planted by Nebraska settlers as windbreaks or orchards, and as fuel lots. Arbor Day was founded by a Nebraskan, J. Sterling Morton, in 1872, and the Timber Culture Act was introduced in 1873 by Nebraska’s U.S. Senator Phineas W. Hitchcock. I’ve heard it suggested that the Bug-eater nickname refers to the large numbers of bull bats in the state which gobble up massive numbers of bugs, but according to the Nebraska State Historical Society, John A. MacMurphy – secretary of the Nebraska Pioneers Association – wrote in 1894 that the name comes from the grasshopper invasions of the 1870s. Reportedly, an easterner came to visit relatives in Nebraska. When he returned home and was asked about conditions, he responded, “Oh, everything is gone up there. The grasshoppers have eaten the grain up, the potato bugs ate the ‘taters all up, and now the inhabitants are eating the bugs to keep alive.” John A. MacMurphy wrote that some newspaperman heard the comment and published it as a joke, which then stuck until an official nickname was chosen.
One piece of fame some Nebraskans claim is having more miles of river than any other state. I haven’t yet found a listing of miles of river per state, so I can’t say it for sure; but Nebraska does sit on top of the Ogalala aquifer, the largest underground lake in the U.S. The Ogalala provides 30% of the groundwater used for irrigation in the United States.
And for me, I can’t think of Nebraska without thinking of the pioneers. Chimney Rock is the landmark that most travelers on the Oregon Trail mentioned in their journals, reporting it was visible from forty miles away. The Lewis and Clark Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Pioneer Trail, and the Pony Express all run through Nebraska, with trail ruts, stage stations, and road ranches still standing today as reminders of those people hardy, brave and adventurous enough to travel into the unknown. Buffalo Bill Cody held his first rodeo in North Platte, Nebraska in July of 1882. Held at the same time as the last big open range roundups in Nebraska, the rodeo featured bronc and buffalo riding, roping and became so popular that Cody created his Wild West Show which he took around the world, bringing a bit of the Wild West to city folk everywhere.
Places to go
**Kool-Aid Museum – Hastings
**Sod House Museum – Gothenburg
**Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village – Minden
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Stuff to see
**World’s Largest Ball of Stamps – Omaha
**Carhenge – Alliance
**Chimney Rock – Bayard
Ornare tincidunt, erat nisl mauris sit erat. Ut feugiat tristifermentum tincidunt suspendt
Things to do
**Tanking – various rivers
**Ashfall Fossil Beds – Royal
**John Brown’s Cave and Secret Tunnels – Nebraska City
Ornare tincidunt, erat nisl mauris sit erat. Ut feugiatue leo fermentum tincidunt integer. Ut
** denotes places and events I have no personal experience with – YET!