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Down the Road: The museum chronicles the North Platte River Valley’s agricultural history.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

March 25, 2024

2 Min Read
The North Platte River Valley around Scottsbluff, Neb., has a sweet history in raising and processing sugarbeets
SWEET HISTORY: The North Platte River Valley around Scottsbluff, Neb., has a sweet history in raising and processing sugarbeets. This heritage is on display at Legacy of the Plains Museum, located in the shadows of Scotts Bluff National Monument. Photos by Curt Arens

You may have driven past it on your way to visit Scotts Bluff National Monument in Gering, Neb. Legacy of the Plains Museum displays the agricultural heritage of the North Platte River Valley on a sprawling campus, quite literally in the shadow of the monument.

The museum, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, educates and promotes an appreciation for the connection of the land in the valley with its inhabitants, including the first human inhabitants, all the way to modern farmers and ranchers.

It interprets traditional agricultural techniques, displaying hundreds of farming tools that tell the story of High Plains crops such as sugarbeets and their importance in the region. It talks about irrigation in the valley and pioneers who traveled along the Oregon Trail.

Scotts Bluff National Monument building

The museum, with a massive display hall filled with agricultural heritage — and a number of farm machinery specimens on display inside the museum and outside on the campus — preserves the stories of sacrifice and triumph of the region, along with the impact of cultural and ethnic diversity in the area.

Legacy of the Plains was created in 2013 through the merger of the Farm and Ranch Museum, which in 1997 bought the 100 acres where the current museum is located, and the North Platte Valley Museum, which was founded in 1961, combining the strengths of both institutions into one campus.

Boy on a tractor at Scotts Bluff National Monument

There are two full buildings of farm equipment on-site, along with a playground for kids, a railroad display, walking paths, a rural school and church, a ranch hand bunkhouse, live animals, a gift shop and a spectacular view of nearby Scotts Bluff.

Learn more about events being held or how to plan your next visit to Legacy of the Plains Museum at legacyoftheplains.org or by calling 308-436-1989.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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