While other Visitor’s centers wind down the year, the fun is just beginning at one Nebraska park unit. November and December are all about the holidays at Homestead National Monument. It’s a big celebration of Christmas cheer and it makes Homestead the perfect stop in your holiday travel plans.
Homestead National Monument of the Americas was established in 1936 to commemorate the passing of the Homestead Act. Under the Homestead Act, qualified individuals could claim a 160 acre plot of prairie land, dramatically expanding the settlement of America. Homestead National Monument of Americas preserves the history of these pioneering settlers. It also is one of the most popular National Park Service sites in Nebraska and the Midwest.
The Holidays at Homestead National Monument
The “Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures” and “Holiday Traditions Through the Decades” are two exhibits open this year at Homestead National Monument. They allow visitors to travel back in time to Christmas celebrations long ago.
The Festival of Prairie Cultures exhibit includes items from the ethnic holiday traditions of people who settled in the Midwest during the Homestead Act. Czech, French, German, Hispanic, Irish, Polish, Scottish, Swedish, and Welsh cultures are represented through decorated trees, photographs, and mementos.
The “Americana Holidays decor through the Decades” exhibit includes decorations and ornaments from the extensive Christmas collection of one Nebraska couple. Dating from 1860’s to the present, it represents the changes in how Midwestern families celebrated Christmas.
After you wander through the decorated trees and holiday festivities, be sure to take a hike around the grounds of the monument. Homestead protects some of the very first acres settled under the Homestead Act. It also highlights some of the critical prairie restoration work of the National Park Service.
Be sure to ask rangers to open the Freeman School during your visit. Just down the road from the Heritage Center, the Freeman School is a fully restored one-room school-house. It showcases the simple, but robust education of Homestead-era school children in Nebraska.
About Homestead National Monument
8523 West State Highway 4
Beatrice , NE 68310
Fall, Winter and Spring Seasons (Labor Day to Memorial Day)
The Heritage Center and Education Center are open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and weekends from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.