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Pan American Highway


category : Landmarks
Two counties in southeast Nebraska are bisected by one of the nation's oldest highways - US 81, also known as the Pan American Highway. Thayer and Fillmore counties serve as part of the 17,000-mile route, which extends from Winnepeg in Manitoba, Canada to the southern tip of Chile, South America at Tierra Del Fuego. The Pan American Highway is the longest continuous stretch of highway in the three Americas: North, Central, and South.


In the very early part of the century, the route was known as the Winnipeg-to-Gulf Highway and ended at Galveston, Texas. On July 10, 1911, a group of Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas visionaries took trains to Salina, Kansas for the first meeting of the "Meridian Road Association." It was a time when roads were but muddy trails and ruts. With the advent of the automobile, these men realized the importance of graveled or paved surface roadways. Annual meetings have been held since the founding of the Meridian Road Association in 1911.



The roadway was known as the Meridian Highway until 1926, when the federal government decided to number the highways instead of using names. that same year at an international congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the South and Central American nations decided to construct a Pan-American highway, extending to the Mexican border at Loredo, Texas. It was at that point that US 81 became part of the Pan-American Highway system.



Over the years, headquarters of the Pan American Highway Association has moved from Newton, Kansas to Salina, Kansas, then Belleville, Kansas. Today, Hebron, Nebraska in Thayer County serves as Association Headquarters.


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Come visit us in Deshler, Nebraska

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Outdoor Mural

A scene of early century Deshler is painted on the side of one of Deshler's downtown buildings.

- Gretchen Wiseman, 1997

Deshler, NE Arts

Historical Walking Tour

While strolling along the sidewalks on Main Street stop and read the historical plaques placed on the fronts of the buildings that chronical the merchants that have occupied these structures from the 1900s to the present.

From a saloon in 1909, to a mortuary, to the Ritz Theater in 1936

Deshler, NE Tours

Trinity Lutheran Church of Friedensau

Located three miles north of this corner, near the Little Blue River, the village of Friedensau, "Peaceful Meadows," was established in 1874 by Lutheran missionary paster, John J. Kern. The town was first settled by his former parishners from Indiana and Ilinois.

In 1885

Deshler, NE Historic Churches

Deshler Flour Mill

A point interest is the Deshler Roller Mills. Started in 1893, the mill supplied flour to nearly all the towns in the surrounding area. During the 1940

Deshler, NE Historic Mills

Thayer County Museum (Belvidere)

One of the most interesting places to visit when you are in Thayer County is the Thayer County Museum located in the former school building at Belvidere. Since 1969

Deshler, NE Museums

Things to do Landmarks near Deshler, NE

Historic HMMJ Radio Station

Headlines in the Clay County Sun of December 3, 1925, proclaimed "Local Station KMMJ Is On The Air!" flat...

Pan American Highway

Two counties in southeast Nebraska are bisected by one of the nation's oldest highways - US 81, also known as the Pan America...

"Old Trusty" Incubator Factory

Mr. and Mrs. M.M. Johnson came to Clay Center from Sheridan, Missouri in 1894 to install and operate the engines in the Or...