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Gage County, NE

Gage CountyOn January 1, 1863, the first day of the Homestead Act, Daniel Freeman filed a claim for 160 acres of land in Gage County, Nebraska. Today, this site, "Where America's Homestead Movement Began" is part of Homestead National Monument of America, the only unit of the National Park System in eastern Nebraska. Visitors to Gage County can see this original homestead. There are also many other opportunities to explore the past and present of Nebraska.

The Gage County Museum in Beatrice occupies the former Burlington Railroad Station, a site that welcomed immigrants from all over the world via Ellis Island to the opening west, and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors looking for a taste of the past can find it in Gage County which boasts a total to twelve National Register properties including the Filley (largest) Stone Barn, Beatrice Chautauqua Tabernacle, Carnegie Building, Paddock Hotel in Beatrice, and the Dewitt Flour Mills and King Iron Bridge. The Oregon Trail National Historic Trail and Pony Express National Historic Trail both pass through the southwest corner of Gage County near Lanham.

Adventurers seeking outdoor recreation opportunities can find them a Big Indian Recreation Area and Rockford Lake State Recreation Area. The annual Homestead Days, the last week of June, offers a chance to live a while in the past and enjoy the spirit of the pioneer days.

Gage County is a short twenty-minute drive from Lincoln or one and one-half hours from Omaha. Yet, a short drive can take visitors a long distance from the hubbub of the city. Here, amidst the acres of corn and mile, lie the origins of Nebraska's history and the foundation of the Homestead era.

Gage County was named in honor of the Reverend William Gage, a Methodist minister, who was chaplain of the first territorial assembly in 1856. Located in south central Nebraska, the southern half of the county was set aside for the Otoe-Missouria Indian Reservation between 1855 and 1882.

The Oregon Trail enters Nebraska and crosses the southwest corner of Gage County. It was along this trail that some 300,000 emigrants crossed the frontier on their way west in the 1840's. A number of other less known frontier trails also bisect the county.

Earliest settlers were descendants of the colonists from eastern states, followed by an influx of Civil war veterans. The largest group of immigrants came from Germany 1870-90. Others coming to the area included Mennonites, a colony from Wales, and
many from Bohemia when the Otoe Indian Reservation was sold in the 1880s. As a result, a wide diversity of cultures and
religions are reflected in the county's communities.

The Homestead Act of 1862 dramatically changed the character of Gage County. One of the very first settlers to take
advantage of the act was Daniel Freeman, a Union Army scout and his wife Agnes. Just east of Beatrice, their original 160 acre farm is now site of the Homestead National Monument, operated by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Explore Gage County

Lake Bridenthal House

The Lake Bridenthal House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the most distinctive local example of the Queen Anne style. Built in 1900

Wymore, NE National Register

Christ Church Episcopal

This church listed on the National Register of Historic Places is an Early Gothic piece of architecture whose cornerstone was laid in 1889

Beatrice, NE Historic Churches

City Parks & RV Camps

Chautauqua Park - This city park winds around the Big Blue River with acres of shaded, scenic recreation areas. Located next to the historic Chautauqua Tabernacle pavilion the RV camping area has complete facilities including hookups for 15-20

Beatrice, NE RV Parks

Public Archery Range and Nature Walking Trail

Welcome to Southeast Nebraska's Public Archery Range and Nature Walking Trail! The handicap accessible practice range features 8 fixed fiberboard targets ranging from 10 to 80

Wymore, NE Sporting Ranges

Gage County Courthouse

This limestone Richardson Romanesque structure with a clock tower was erected in 1890-1892, and has served as the location for the administration of local government and institutions for Gage County for over 100

Beatrice, NE Historic Courthouses

Kilpatrick Mansion

The "Kilpatrick Mansion" is a two-and-one-half story brick dwelling constructed in 1904-5 in the Renaissance Revival style, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Beatrice, NE Historic Homes

Elijah Filley Stone Barn

The Elijah Filley Stone Barn, built in 1874, was formerly a part of Elijah Filley's Cottage Hill Farm, established in 1867 when Filley and his wife, Emily, came to Gage County. It was built after the grasshopper plague of 1874

Filley, NE Historic Barns

Oregon Trail Marker

The Oregon Trail entered Nebraska near Lanham on the Southern border of the state. View the marker and discover the hardships of the pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Over 300,000 persons crossed into Nebraska at this point as they journeyed west.

Lanham, NE Historical Markers

Chautaqua Tabernacle

The Chautauqua, which operated annual summer assemblies from 1889 until the 1920's, based on high moral standards and offered secular and religious

Beatrice, NE Historic Churches

Centenary United Methodist

This impressive limestone church was erected in 1929

Beatrice, NE Historic Churches

Rockford Lake - SRA

This popular 150-acre fishing and power boating lake has 286 land acres with plenty of room for picnicking, hiking, primitive camping, unsupervised swimming, fishing and hunting (in season). Facilities include drinking water and latrines.

Beatrice, NE Recreation

Carnegie Building

The original Carnegie Library, built in 1902-3, is an outstanding example of the Beaux-Arts style, designed by architect, George A. Berlinghof, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Beatrice, NE Carnegie Libraries

Explore Gage County