The Heritage Byway


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By Rosie Stockton

The walking trail in Cambridge, Neb., goes into the mist. (Rosie Stockton)Over hill, over dale, along the highways and byways of Nebraska, in particular along the Heritage Byway, as it wends and winds its way along the southern border of Nebraska… This road stretches 238 miles from Brownville on the east along the mighty Missouri River to the gentle rolling hills and the fertile Republican River Valley where it ends near Edison.

There are many highlights along the Heritage Byway from the historical significance of the area to experiencing the great outdoors and savoring the taste of the Byway by enjoying the award-winning wines and sampling the unique cuisine of our heritage. The traveler will discover, in the trek along this byway, an abundance of small-town charm, plenty of outdoor adventures and breathtaking vistas of endless prairies. It doesn’t matter where his or her interests lie, there is something for every taste.

Did you know that the Heritage Byway takes you near one of Nebraska’s National Monuments? It’s the Homestead National Monument of America with its new Heritage Center near Beatrice. This center tells the stories of the people that claimed the first free land under the Homestead Act of 1862 in Nebraska as well as many other states. It also leads the way to Red Cloud, the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather. This small town is also listed in the book “1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before You Die.” All along the byway the traveler will find restored buildings, a river boat, community theaters, plenty of antiques and wonderful shopping along the way. There are also captivating museums, vintage hotels and historic churches.

In the journey across the state, the traveler will find that water plays an integral part. Historically the people in the wagon trains that fought their way across the prairie followed the rivers and streams on their way west. The Heritage Byway starts along the powerful Missouri River at Brownville. The traveler will find many other opportunities at the numerous outstanding recreational lakes, such as Harlan County Reservoir that is on the Republican River. There are hiking and biking opportunities, as well as lots of hunting, fishing and diverse activities for the bird watchers.

Sunset reflection in Arapahoe, Neb. (Rosie Stockton)The byway businesses also want to whet travelers’ appetites for the taste of the Heritage Byway. There are wineries and microbreweries to explore. When they taste the food and spirits of rural Nebraska, in particular those along the Heritage Byway, in the restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and festivals, this is the best of rural America. Travelers will experience the flavor of the area in a way they won’t forget. There are great places in every town that will tantalize their senses and satiate their taste buds as they wend their way across the hills, valleys and plains of the Heritage Byway.

Enjoy a fall day or a weekend to take a ride along the Heritage Byway and see and experience just a bit of Nebraska’s good life. There are treasures at every turn.


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