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Wessels Living History Farm takes visitors back in time

Down the Road: The farmstead near York, Neb., has the physical features of an early 20th century farm.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

February 17, 2023

6 Slides

Farm history comes to life at Wessels Living History Farm, just south of Interstate 80 in York, Neb.

The 145-acre farmstead includes an early 20th century farmhouse that David Wessels and his brother lived in; a 1920s barn donated by Bill Peters of Shelby; a granary from Bradshaw that belonged to Ralph Stuhr; Zion Lutheran Church from Thayer; and a one-room schoolhouse moved from Sutton.

Along with a tank house, windmill, antique tractor building and main offices, this site offers a glimpse of what a 1920s farmstead in Nebraska might have looked like.

The development of this living history farm was a dream of Wessels. Born in 1917, Wessels and his brothers carried on the family farm where they grew up after their parents retired.

Known as a “straight shooter” who loved to have fun — and a hard worker who was honest with a heart of gold — Wessels loved agriculture and wanted to leave a legacy with this community that would help later generations understand what farm life was like, and how and why things were done on the farm the way they were.

Out of this desire for education, the living history farm was born thanks to Wessels’ vision and commitment. But the farm isn’t just the physical features that you can see. It lives with an online presence on a website that offers videos, testimonies, recollections and detailed information about farming in years gone by.

Throughout the year, the farm hosts guided tours and school groups, but also special events. The farm is a real, working farm, so visitors can help shell corn, help in the garden, feed animals and gather eggs from the farm’s poultry house. Guests are invited to help with whatever needs to be done while they are visiting.

Learn more about Wessels and the farm that is his legacy by visiting

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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