LINCOLN — Nebraska’s current tourism guide features a beautiful photograph of a Christmas tree at Union Station.
Trouble is, it’s the wrong Union Station.
In what was described as a production error, a yuletide picture of Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, was used in the official 2018 edition of Nebraska’s State Travel Guide, instead of a photo of Union Station in Omaha.
“They look very similar, so it’s pretty easy to mix them up, especially when there’s a big Christmas tree in the photo,” said Erin Lenz, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Tourism Commission.
A Kansas City-based professional photographer, Roy Inman, noticed the error recently, tipped off by the colorful, ornate ceiling of the train station in his city. That prompted a story in the Kansas City Star.
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“Proofing ... it’s not for everyone,” was the tongue-in-cheek response on Facebook by the Durham Museum, which occupies Omaha’s Union Station.
That’s a reference to Nebraska’s new tourism tag line — “Honestly, it’s not for everyone” — which went viral earlier this year. It created millions of dollars’ worth of free publicity for a state that is often an also-ran on tourists’ must-see lists.
This year, for the first time, the guide was produced by a Superior, Colorado-based marketing firm, Miles Marketing Destinations. Lenz said the travel guide uses photos provided by the Tourism Commission, as well as photographs chosen by the production firm from other sources.
Before it goes to press, it is proofread by staff at the Tourism Commission, she said, and no one caught the error. About 200,000 copies were printed. The Travel Guide costs $94,000 to produce and $84,000 to distribute.
The error was actually noticed months earlier by Durham Museum staff after the 2018 Travel Guide came out, but they didn’t make a big deal out of it. Jessica Brummer, communications director at the museum, said that the Tourism Commission was notified but that it was too late for a correction.
“I just chuckled — everyone makes mistakes,” Brummer said. “And they’re a great partner of ours.”
She added, “If anything, it got us some free press in Kansas City to come see our Christmas decorations.”
Lenz said the two Union Stations have “similar looks and feels,” but Inman told the Star that the difference in their ceilings is unmistakable.
Omaha’s Union Station, opened in 1931, has a 60-foot-high ceiling. Kansas City’s Union Station, opened in 1914, has a 95-foot-high ceiling and is now home to several offices and cafes, as well as Science City, a science and technology center.
This isn’t the first case of mistaken identity involving a state agency — in 2014, production was halted on a new Nebraska license plate after it was discovered that the version of the Sower on the plate was based on an image from Michigan, and not from the statue atop the Nebraska State Capitol.
The Union Station gaffe won’t be around for long — the 2019 Nebraska Travel Guide is scheduled to hit the streets about the end of the year.
“In next year’s travel guide, you will not have a Kansas City picture,” Lenz said.