News from the Homestead
August 2021

Summer is a great time to visit National Parks! We invite you to come enjoy the many programs, events, and recreational and educational opportunities happening at Homestead National Historical Park this summer. We invite you to join us for a ceremonial name change celebration on August 11th at 4:00 PM at the Heritage Center.

Check out the newsletter to learn more about some of the happenings, as well as a behind the scenes look at what's been going on at the park lately.

We look forward to seeing you at Homestead National Historical Park this summer.


Mark Engler, Superintendent
Homestead Name Change Celebration - August 11th at 4:00 PM
You've probably heard by now about Homestead's name change. In January 2021 Congress voted to change our name from Homestead National Monument of America to Homestead National Historical Park. Since then we've been working hard to change over all the places our name appeared as Homestead National Monument of America - from things as small as our Junior Ranger badges, to things as large as the signs on the buildings. It's a good thing the Homestead Quarter doesn't say "monument" on it - we don't know how we would have changed the name on the nearly 500,000,000 that were minted!

It's been quite a process over the last few months, and though it's still ongoing, we are excited to hold an official ceremonial name change event unveiling the new signage at the Heritage Center. You're invited to join us on Wednesday, August 11th at 4:00 PM to celebrate Homestead National Historical Park's new name. The event will be held outside at the Heritage Center.
National Park Service announces partnership with the University of Nebraska to research about Black homesteaders in Oklahoma
The National Park Service and University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies will partner once again, to expand research about Black homesteaders. Working with the University of Oklahoma, they will explore the lives of Black homesteaders in Oklahoma in the turn of the century, and examine connections between land ownership, citizenship, and upward mobility for many who had recently been enslaved.
The Homestead Act made thousands of acres available for settlement from land that the U.S. acquired from Indigenous nations through war, treaty negotiations, and allotment. The Homestead Act allowed African Americans, whites, and immigrants who were eligible for citizenship to acquire 160 acres for a nominal filing fee while making improvements over five years. African American homesteaders claimed nearly 650,000 acres of land throughout the Great Plains.
“We are happy to work with the National Park Service to expand our research,” said University of Nebraska Project Director Mikal Brotnov Eckstrom. “Oklahoma is a state where the histories of formerly enslaved Americans and the forced migrations of many Native Nations come together. These histories help us understand the needs and desires of those intertwined histories with that of a burgeoning nation.”
Homestead National Historical Park in Beatrice, Nebraska, began collaborating with Dr. Richard Edwards, former director of the Center for Great Plains Studies, more than a decade ago. Dr. Edwards, a leading homesteading scholar, was principal author of the earlier study, which examined Black homesteading communities in Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
“The Homesteader Project is invaluable,” said Homestead National Historical Park Superintendent Mark Engler. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts made possible by our neighboring Universities of Nebraska and Oklahoma we are adding the important history of Oklahoma, which had the largest number of homesteaders of African descent, to the research of Black homesteaders in other Great Plains states. This is an extremely important to provide opportunities for the public to connect with this lesser-known homesteading story.”
The multi-year project will be a partnership between the University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies and the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Kalenda Eaton, Associate Professor in the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, will lead the research team.

 “I am excited to lead the Oklahoma research team and enhance initiatives sponsored by the National Park Service,” said Professor Eaton. “As we build upon and honor the prior scholarship of Black historians, educators, and genealogists, we also will not forget the experiences of those who were brought to the region or sought refuge and built lives in western America--against all odds.”
The larger project has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the 400 Years of African American History, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund-National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Park Service.
For more information about the project visit:
Ezra Meeker - Actively Remembering the Oregon Trail
Ezra Meeker was one of the hundreds of thousands of people who traveled westward on the Oregon Trail in the mid-nineteenth century. He joined a covered wagon train in 1852 with his wife Eliza Jane Sumner Meeker, and they successfully made the trek across the continent. They claimed land in Washington under the Oregon Donation Land Act of 1850 and the Homestead Act of 1862. He planted hops, becoming a successful and prominent farmer in the Puyallup Valley for many years. His farm was hard hit by a pest infestation and the Panic of 1893, so when the Klondike Gold Rush began, Meeker opened up a grocery store to sell provisions to would-be miners seeking their fortune.

In his later years, Meeker became concerned that Americans were forgetting the history of the Oregon Trail, which had meant so much to him and so many others. He decided to raise public awareness and funds to create monuments dedicated to the history of the trail, by taking an ox-driven covered wagon across his route in reverse in 1906. In fact, he successfully traveled along the Oregon Trail multiple times in his later years, by plane, train, and automobile. He stopped at major sites, landmarks, and forts along the trail, taking publicity photos, with famous photographers such as Nebraska homesteader Solomon D. Butcher, and turned the photos into postcards. Sites on his return journey included Chimney Rock, which he described as “the wonder of all” that passed it on the trail in the 1850s, as well as Fort Kearney, Fort Laramie, Scotts Bluff National Monument.

His efforts were a huge success over the years – he met with and gained the support of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, American aviation pioneer Orville Wright, and inventor Henry Ford, among others. He created the Oregon Trail Memorial Association, which raised funds through the Oregon Trail Memorial half dollar coin, struck by U.S. mints in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.

Thanks in part to homesteader Ezra Meeker’s efforts, the Oregon Trail today remains well remembered and memorialized. The National Park Service today administers the Oregon National Historic Trail with its trail traces, structures, graves, landmarks, and markers. One of the most enduring appearances of the Oregon Trail in American pop culture is the famous video game, which was first created as a text-based computer game 50 years ago this year to teach Minnesota schoolchildren about life on the trail. Its most famous version was released in 1985. So next time you’re deciding whether to caulk the wagon or ford the Big Blue River (just south of Homestead National Historical Park!), salute Ezra Meeker and his hard work.

Image Information: Courtesy MOHAI (1986.5G.1920)
Emancipation Day at Nicodemus National Historic Site
This summer, Nicodemus, an African American homesteading community in Kansas, now a National Historic Site, hosted its 143rd Emancipation Celebration-Homecoming. As the return of descendants from all over the country illustrates, the influence of Nicodemus reverberates far beyond the Sunflower State.

Nicodemus was founded in 1877 in north-central Kansas in the Solomon River Valley. Hundreds of African American settlers migrated from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi at the end of Reconstruction, seeking an escape from racial hostility and inequality. Many of the settlers filed homestead claims - by 1900 the community had more than 100 homestead patents for 18,000 acres. It was a rural farming community, with the homestead farms and their agricultural production as the lifeblood of Nicodemus.

Individuals from Nicodemus were important figures in the larger history of homesteading, including Edward (aka Edwin) P. McCabe (1850-1920). McCabe who encouraged Black migration to Oklahoma and was involved in efforts to make it an “all-Black state.”

Today, Nicodemus is the longest-lasting black homesteader community in America. Every summer, descendants gather to celebration Homecoming. This year one of the major events was the re-dedication of the 1885 A.M.E. Church, whose restoration was recently completed. The first permanent buildings in homesteader communities was often a school, and a church - both of which are still standing in Nicodemus.

Staff from Homestead joined in the festivities at Nicodemus, setting up a booth with research computers for descendants to learn more about their ancestors homesteads, including information on the Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records, as well as the digitized Land Entry Case Files available on
Jesse's Jottings - Mussel Stocking at Homestead
On July 13, 2021, YCC, interns and I stocked 950 mussels into Cub Creek.  Here is a link to a story about the introduction: Game and Parks works to reintroduce mussels in Big Blue watershed - SOUTHEAST - NEWS CHANNEL NEBRASKA courtesy of Michael Shiveley at News Channel Nebraska.

It was a great way to celebrate the success of the 2020 introduction. 

At Homestead National Historical Park, surveys in 2020 and 2021 have shown that six different species are present, but that we are missing two species that should be in the creek, the Fatmucket and the Plain Pocketbook.  The Nebraska Game and Park Commission is helping to improve the biodiversity by growing freshwater mussels in their North Platte fish hatchery so the mussels can be reintroduced into creeks which they have been extirpated from. 

In July of 2020 and 2021 the Fatmucket and Plain Pocketbook mussels were reintroduced into Cub Creek.  Survey data from before the stocking in 2021 showed that about 29% of the mussels that were stocked in Cub Creek in 2020 survived and thrived.  The average size of the mussels when they were stocked in 2020 was 56.4 mm, when they were found a year later the average size was 76.3 mm.  In total 508 mussels were found in 2021 versus 311 in 2020.  Most likely the increase is because of more people searching and the water levels were not elevated as much as they were in 2020. 

By working with partners such as the Nebraska Game and Parks, the NPS is ensuring that future generations of park visitors will be able to enjoy the wildlife of Cub Creek.   

Thank you to each of you for your part in making this happen.
Caring for Paper Objects and Photographs: How to Combat Acid Migration
Do you have an old photo album filled with pictures of yesteryear? Do you collect newspapers or other paper objects? These items document and celebrate important events in our lives, and the lives of our ancestors. If so, you may have noticed that the photos and newspaper clippings have started to fade and deteriorate over time. Many of them are irreplaceable family heirlooms - grandma and grandpa's wedding photos, or an original Homestead patent, and so on. So what can you do to help make sure those items will be in the best possible condition to pass down to the next generation to remember and cherish?

The acid levels in the ink and paper can amplify the acid present in photographs in a process known as "acid migration." To reduce acid migration in your photos, place photos and newspaper articles in stable plastic sleeves or acid-free photo envelopes. If you want to keep the album together you can place acid-free paper between the pages, but this will not be as effective in protecting them as removing the photos from the acidic paper.

At Homestead National Historical Park, we use acid-free products to store many of our archival items. Pictured above is a photo album from the Reynolds Family Archive. We photographed each page in order to document the album as we received it before carefully removing the photographs so that they could be stored in acid-free envelopes.

To learn more about how to care for documents and photographs, check out these links from History Nebraska's Ford Conservation Center, who we've partnered with for conservation of some of our collections items here at the park, including the "First Homestead Painting" by Gusta Strohm, as well as cabin plans from America's last homesteader, Ken Deardorff.

New Distance Learning Hardware and Programs
A recent project here at the park was updating our distance learning setup, and developing new programs to take advantage of the upgrades. Homestead's IT Specialist, Brandon Clark, recently completed an overhaul on the hardware, installing a motorized adjustable desk surface to streamline it for staff use for a wide variety of programs. Need room to display an entire buffalo robe for the "Follow the Buffalo" program? No problem! In addition to the large desk space and motorized adjustable component, the setup includes a video camera, projector system, blue screen, four monitors, and the computer itself.

One of the most exciting projects for interpreter rangers at Homestead National Historical Park is our ongoing research into Black homesteaders. This history helps diversify how we think about the Homestead Act of 1862 and better understand the experiences of African American migration from the South to the North and West.

To share these fascinating stories with students, Homestead’s education rangers Liliana Valderrama and Eric Van Vleet created two new distance learning programs on Black Homesteaders. The first we will target to 4th grade Nebraska students that links the struggles of Black homesteaders throughout the state of Nebraska. This program meets important grade-level education standards about Nebraska’s history and geography.

The second distance learning program focuses on the story of the Exodusters, Black migrants who escaped increasing racism and the cycle of debt from the sharecropping system in the South to seek a fresh start through homesteading, both independently and in intentional communities like Nicodemus, Kansas. We will offer this program to middle and high school students across the nation.

You can book these free of charge synchronous distance learning programs through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration website Center for Interactive Learning - ViewContentProvider ( Otherwise, please email Eric Van Vleet, Homestead NHP’s education program specialist at [email protected].
Winter Wheat Harvest Time!
You may remember from our December 2020 newsletter that we planted our Heritage Farm Field at the Heritage Center with an acre of winter wheat. Thanks to the assistance of our great volunteers Kevin Knaber and Lance Brinkman, we were able to to get the field plowed with a team of horses and a John Deere tractor and a plow, before Ranger Jesse and Ranger Jon planted Freeman Hard Red Winter Wheat seeds (named in honor of Daniel Freeman) with a vintage Seed Kaster.

Fast forward to summer, and it's harvest time for the wheat! Once again, our fantastic volunteers pitched in. Noel Ditmars joined us with his 1950 Allis Chalmers Model 60 Allcrop to help. Does the name Allis-Chalmers sound familiar? Homestead has a 1945 Model C Allis-Chalmers on display in the Heritage Center. It belonged to America's last homesteader, Ken Deardorff, who used it to pull stumps on his land in Alaska in the 1970s.

Check out the video here, courtesy of Jon Vanderford with PureNebraska and 1011 News: Old-time wheat harvest at Homestead (

Ditmars spent several hours volunteering his time and his Model 60 Allcrop, not only harvesting our wheat, but also plowing the field so that we will be ready to plant again soon. Stay tuned!
Image of BLM Archeologist Bob King.
The Story of John B. Smithson, California homesteader in 1900

John B. Smithson’s story unfolds as part of the settlement history of the western part of the United States by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints beginning in the mid-1840s. It is an epic American story sometimes not thought of as having much connection to homesteading. But John B. Smithson’s life will show that for him the two were indeed connected, leading to his homesteading in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California.

We’ll begin with the early life of this homesteader that was key to what happened to him later. John Bartley Smithson was born October 6, 1841, at Parkerville in Marion County, Alabama. He was a son of Allen Freeman Smithson and his wife Lettish Holladay.
According to information recorded by Smithson family descendants, several members of the family were converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Marion County, Alabama. Included were John B. Smithson’s parents, with John two years old at the time.

What happened next occurred because of the family’s new religious faith, with members of the L.D.S. church at that time in the South often not well accepted by others in their communities. In late June of 1844, the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, had been assassinated in Illinois and the church struggled to recover. By 1846, plans were made that resulted in most of its members leaving the Midwest and moving west. The Smithsons in Alabama decided to do the same.

Thus, in early 1846, the large party of Smithson relatives joined William Brown’s Company (one family account tells that it was led by William Crosby) in what was later called the “Mississippi Saints 1846 Pioneer Company.” It is also sometimes referred to as Brigham Young’s “vanguard company” for the very early westward travel by pioneer members of the L.D.S. church desiring to join with other followers of the besieged religion.

After starting in 1846, the Smithsons and other in the company travelled from Alabama through Mississippi by wagon train but only reached what is now the Pueblo, Colorado area before it was determined too late to proceed father. As a result, they overwintered in tents in Colorado at a time when the area was not yet a territory of the United States. The same was true for Utah where they traveled the next spring.

John B. Smithson’s own family story was that the next year after traveling to Colorado in 1846, they continued west and arrived on July 29, 1847, at what would soon become the Salt Lake City area. If their arrival date is correct, it means the Smithsons and others in the group of “Mississippi Saints” arrived there only five days after Brigham Smith’s first saw the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

Of note, July of 1847 was over six months before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed ending the War with Mexico. By that agreement, Mexico ceded much of what is now Utah and other parts of the Southwest and southern California to the United States. Consequently, upon their arrival, Brigham Young and his followers rightly viewed the Salt Lake Valley as not part of the United States, calling it “Deseret” (a word from the Book of Mormon meaning “honeybee” and signifying industry.)

In 1849, the year after Utah became part of the United States, L.D.S. church members living in Deseret petitioned to enter the United States as a separate state. Statehood would give them more autonomy with L.D.S. settlers then able to elect their own state government and representatives, but it was denied.

Before their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley in mid-1847, John B. Smith’s parents had their 4th child, a son Lehi Micajah Smithson (1847-1932), born March 20, 1847. Over two years later, John B. Smith’s mother Lettisha died on August 16, 1849, at age 26, with his father soon remarrying to Jenett Burton Taylor (1825-1912). In time, they would have 11 more children, with their oldest child named Nephi Smithson (1850-1901), born on September 16, 1850, near Salt Lake City.

Interestingly, the “1850 census of Utah” (apparently taken in early 1851 for the Smithson family), reported both Nephi at “age 6 months,” and his older half-brother Lehi, at “age 2 years,” (actually 3 years) as born in “Deseret.” But by that time, “Deseret” as a hoped-for separate political and religious entity had instead become part of Utah Territory, which was organized on September 9, 1850. Yet news of that event, which occurred in far-away Washington, D.C., only reached the new territory later. And when it did, some church members still clung to the name Deseret for their promised land.

In 1851, John B. Smithson’s father, Allen F. Smithson, decided to leave Utah and continue westward as part of a group of L.D.S. settlers headed for California after the gold discovery there in 1848. But instead of going to the gold rush part of California, the Smithsons instead traveled to San Bernardino County in southern California. John B. Smithson was about 10 at that time and it would be another four decades later before he would homestead in the region.

To follow his story further, we will turn to John B. Smithson’s remarkably informative obituary printed in the August 9, 1910, San Bernardino County Sun newspaper (p. 4). It appeared two days after his death in San Bernardino. It first summarizes his trip west from Alabama starting in 1846 at age five. But it also reports on what happened to him afterwards including in his later years working and living in the San Bernardino mountains where he filed for a homestead in the late 1800s. It is an area visited today by nature lovers and recreationists who continue to enjoy the region’s scenery just as Smithson did over a century ago. His obituary begins…

“John Bartley Smithson was born at Parkerville, Marion county, Alabama, October 6, 1841, and was the son of Allen F. Smithson and Luticia Holliday [sic] Smithson. [On] March 1, 1846, Mr. Allen F. Smithson and wife and family, including young John Bartley Smithson, started on their perilous journey to explore and settle in the great west. In the Rocky mountains, near Taos, he remembered seeing those well known mountaineers and trappers, Kit Carson, John Brown, James W. Waters, V. J. Herring and a portion of the party under Captain Jefferson Hunt. Passing on over the plains and mountains to Salt Lake, Utah, they remained for a time, then crossed the deserts with ox teams to San Bernardino, California, where they arrived June 24, 1851, and settled on some unsurveyed land near what is now the old City Cemetery, afterwards described as the corner of A and Seventh streets.

Father Smithson went back to Pareah, Utah, to serve as postmaster, while his son, John Bartley, returned to San Bernardino and found employment with some well known mill men … who furnished the first lumber to build the homes for the pioneers of San Bernardino. Here Mr. Smithson formed that strong attachment for our grand and inspiring mountains that followed him to his last conscious hours. The Smithson ranch, now known as Pinecrest, was his mountain home, where the family and numerous friends loved to assemble and enjoy the hospitality of a genuine pioneer. Many are the barbecues, family and social reunions, bonfires and picnics that memory recalls connected to the Smithson paradise.

Mr. Smithson was a past president of the San Bernardino Society of California Pioneers, and was highly esteemed by all its members. He and his beloved wife, Jane Smithson, and their family were prime movers in locating the pioneer camps in the most picturesque spots in our mountains, where from 100 to 300 of the happiest people on earth would enjoy life for two and three months at a time, one of the happiest of all these campers being no other than Mr. Smithson himself, realizing that all around him was joy and gladness that he and his family had caused to so many.

Mr. Smithson was a mountain road builder, as Supervisor West and many others know. He has been one of the builders of San Bernardino, and to such noble men we owe our improvement and prosperity. Upright and honest in all his dealings he leaves a good example to his family and his fellow man….”

Not told in his obituary was that he had married January 22, 1866, at age 24, in San Bernardino, California to Jane Cadd, who, at age 14, was 10 years younger than her husband. She was born July 5, 1851, at Primrose Farm, Adelaide, South Australia and died January 7, 1933, in San Bernardino, California. Between 1867 and 1889, John and Jane would have 12 children.

When Jane died in 1933, her obituary in the January 8, 1933, San Bernardino County Sun (p. 9) reported more on her early life and later married life with her husband until his death in 1910. It stated:

“Born in Australia on July 5, 1851, Mrs. Smithson came to America at the age of four, with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Cadd. They went to San Pedro and then came to San Bernardino. San Bernardino at that time, included little more than the old fort.
While still a little girl, Mrs. Smithson was taken by her parents to Salt Lake City, where they lived for a year, before returning to this city. They went and returned by ox cart.

She married John Bartley Smithson on Jan. 22, 1866, at the old Cadd ranch on West Seventh street [in San Bernardino]. There were 12 children, seven of whom survive her.
Mrs. Smithson spent many years of her early married life in the San Bernardino mountains. In a short magazine article written several months before her death, she said that she was one of the first women to travel over the old Mormon road to Crestline. Her husband founded what is now Pinecrest. He sold it to Dr. J. N. Baylis. It was known, then, as the Smithson ranch. [Note: In 2021, there is a Christian Conference Center at Pinecrest in the San Bernardino Mountains north of the city of San Bernardino.] Mr. Smithson worked as a logging contractor in the mountains and they lived at Lake Arrowhead, then Little Bear Lake, Grass Valley, Sawpit and Big Bear lake. Mr. and Mrs. Smithson operated a hotel in Sawpit canyon for many years. They also formerly owned the old Devore ranch…. She was an active member of the Pioneer Society and the Reorganized church of Latter Day Saints....”

Returning to other records documenting the story of John B. Smithson, the 1870 federal census of San Bernardino reported that he was then age 30 and working as a teamster at San Bernardino, California. At that time, his family included his wife Jane and their two oldest sons.
Subsequently, the 1880 census listed John B. Smithson and family (then with 5 children) in the same place with John again reported as a teamster. The 1900 and 1910 census returns continued reporting John and family at the same location, with his occupation in 1910 (the year he died) recorded as a wagon driver, hauling lumber. What the census did not report (though indicated in their obituaries), was that while John B. Smithson and his wife had a home in San Bernardino, they often stayed during the warmer months in the mountains north of the growing city of San Bernardino.

In 1887, the San Bernardino paper ran several notices that John B. Smithson had applied to purchase federal timber land under a law passed by Congress on June 3, 1878, entitled “An Act for the sale of timber lands in the State of California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington Territory.” This resulted in him buying 160 acres in the San Bernardino mountains between (and north of) Crestline and Lake Arrowhead on January 21, 1890.

It was around this time that John B. Smithson realized that he could also homestead land in the same, mostly forested region. Despite living much of the time in San Bernardino, he was able to meet the requirements for residency and farming for homesteading. On October 12, 1900, he was granted a 160-acre homestead. Details of his dwelling and what crop(s) he raised to qualify for receiving the land would be in his homestead file in the National Archives.
At the time of his death at age 69 on August 7, 1910, he was still enamored with the mountains north of San Bernardino – an area that was much different than Alabama where he had been born, or Utah where he spent more of his earlier years. Instead, by 1910, he had become a much-respected pioneer of San Bernardino – and a homesteader in his beloved mountains north of that city.

In sum, John B. Smithson’s story is yet another fascinating tale of one of the around 1.6 million people who claimed land under the 1862 Homestead Act. In his case, John’s story involves an epic chapter of how some areas of the western United States were settled by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, his history adds to our understanding of the many ways that homesteading occurred in the nation from the 1860s into the 1980s.
Plan Like a Park Ranger - Top 10 Tips for Visiting Homestead!
#1 - From the introductory film, to the museum, to the trails through the prairie, Homestead has a lot to explore and learn about! Make sure you are planning ahead and giving yourself plenty of time to experience all that the park has to offer.

#2 - Get the App! Download the National Park Service App to explore Homestead and other National Parks Service sites! The App has tools to help explore the park and important information about hours of operation and COVID-19 rules.

#3 - With over 100 species of birds that either reside in the park or migrate through it, there are always a multitude of birds to look at! Bring a pair of binoculars so that you can better identify them.

#4 - Explore the park. Complete the Junior Ranger or Not-so Junior Ranger books to learn more about the park and to earn a badge! These books offer opportunities to explore the park, engage children, and interact with the history here.

#5 - The Heritage Center has research computers equipped with, Bureau of Land Management General Land Office records, and Fold3. These websites can be used to research your homesteading ancestors and find their land patents and/or case files.

#6 - Enjoy a picnic! There are picnic tables at both the Heritage Center and the Education Center.

#7 - Be curious and bring questions! Whether they be about the Homestead Act of 1862, how to research your homesteading ancestors, or the types of wildlife that call the park home. The rangers are ready to answer them!

#8 - Pack plenty of water and snacks if you are going out onto the prairie- especially during the afternoon!

#9 - In the spring and summer months, the weather can change quickly! Make sure to keep an eye out for incoming storms. If there is a storm, head to one of the buildings. Do not go outside again until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike. In the case of a tornado watch or warning, go to one of the buildings and follow the ranger’s directions.

#10 - Pets are only allowed in the parking lots and mowed lawn areas at Homestead National Historical Park. However, service animals are allowed in the buildings and on the trails.
Maintenance Rising High at the Heritage Center
The Maintenance Division here at Homestead has been keeping busy this summer. In the first picture, you can see them soaring high above the prairie as they clean the windows of the Heritage Center. Their hard work keeps the glass pristine to enjoy that spectacular view of the restored tallgrass prairie. If you've never seen the sun set over the goldenrod in bloom, goldenrod season will be coming up soon. Come out and check it out!

And don't forget to spend time in nature while you're at the park. Maintenance has also been working on trail maintenance so that you can get out on the trails and enjoy the sights and sounds of the prairie all around you. Pictured below is Danny taking the John Deere Skid Steer out to repair the Upland Prairie Loop trail. A 40-foot section of the trail that crossed a water drainage area was rebuilt, using this Skid Steer loader to place and fill culverts (one visible in the image).

Other upcoming projects include work at the Freeman School, the Maintenance Building, and rehabilitating concrete breakup throughout the park.
Have U Herd? Homestead Cows on Parade
Summer in Nebraska is a time of celebration, of festivities - of parades! Staff here at the park have had the privilege of participating in local parades, county fairs, and celebrations all summer long - in Beatrice's Homestead Days parade, the Diller Picnic Parade, the Seward 4th of July Parade, the Gage County Fair, and the Wilber Czech Festival, just to name a few.

Many of these parades and events are huge deals in the community, some with history stretching back well over 100 years. Who knows - maybe Daniel Freeman was at the first Diller Picnic! It's an honor to join the surrounding community and celebrate together.

Our float this year paid homage to the new name change, with a pair of cows asking - "HAVE U HERD? HOMESTEAD HAS A NEW NAME!" We're no longer Homestead National Monument of America, we are officially Homestead National Historical Park. Nice to meet you! Our final parade of the season will be Saturday, August 7th at the Wilber Czech Fest. Hope to see you there.

Ranger Jon and VIP Rachel Z. at the Diller Picnic Parade, June 2021.