Pioneer settlement under the Homestead Act of 1862 was a transformative experience for our nation. Settlers claimed more than 270 million acres under the law in what became 30 states. About 45% of the land in Nebraska was homesteaded. The Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice offers great opportunities to learn about this heritage. It’s an impressive, multi-faceted site, with educational facilities plus a one-room schoolhouse and log cabin, hiking trails and a program exploring the area’s geological history.
U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska has proposed renaming the site the Homestead National Historical Park. Whatever Congress decides, this is a top-flight facility helping deepen the public’s understanding of our past.