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4 facts to know about Grand Island

The city has been host to Husker Harvest Days for 45 years.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

August 19, 2022

2 Min Read
The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island
SPECIAL PLACE: Founded in 1967, the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, located on 208 acres, boasts 108 buildings and more than 140,000 historical artifacts. Stuhr is just one of the many attractions around Grand Island that make the city a special place.Curt Arens

Since the first soil was turned in 1977 to prepare the show site for what would become Husker Harvest Days, Grand Island and Hall County has been a perfect host these past 45 years.

Here’s four facts about Grand Island:

1. Third-largest city in state. With a population of just over 52,000, Grand Island is the third-largest city in Nebraska, behind Omaha and Lincoln. It has 19 public and seven private schools; post-secondary institutions, including Central Community College and Bellevue adult education facility; and the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center.

2. Big events. Grand Island is a hub for ag activity. Since 2010, the Nebraska State Fair has been at Fonner Park, along with numerous regional and national livestock events and shows that take advantage of the park’s world-class state fair facilities. The spring migration of more than 1 million Sandhill cranes along the Platte River draws thousands of wildlife enthusiasts.

3. Cool name. A quarter of a million emigrants streamed through the valley along the Great Platte River Road between 1840 and 1870, making the difficult overland trip to California, Oregon and Utah. In the early exploration days, French traders named a large island in the Platte River, La Grande Isle. In 1857, 35 German settlers established a community near the east end of that island. That original community fell on hardships, but the city that would become Grand Island was platted by Union Pacific Railroad in 1866. Although the Platte River has changed and the island no longer exists, the name stuck.

4. Stuhr Museum. Founded in 1967, the 208-acre living history museum has 108 buildings, including the historic Railroad Town, and houses more than 140,000 historic artifacts. The research museum at Stuhr is home to the collection of bound volumes of Nebraska Farmer, dating back to 1859.

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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