In 1856, a baker’s dozen of young men with roots in Columbus, Ohio, met in Omaha to plan the creation of a new town—Columbus, Neb. They chose a site near the confluence of the Platte and Loup Rivers speculating that the proposed trans-continental railroad would follow the Platte. They guessed right and ten years later, Union Pacific rails were laid through the town.
When the automobile became the transportation of choice, the nation’s first transcontinental highway—the Lincoln Highway—went through the city. The Lincoln Highway is designated as the Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway (Hwy. 30) across the entire State of Nebraska.
Explore Columbus’ past at the Platte County Museum where artifacts, military memorabilia and a log cabin are on display as well as a turn-of-the century schoolroom and barber shop. While in Columbus shoppers can enjoy a visit to the Columbus Art Gallery & Gift Shop, downtown Columbus, where many of the items for sale are made by Nebraska artists.
A native son of Columbus was instrumental in helping the United States win World War II. President Eisenhower said, “Andrew Jackson Higgins is the man who won the war for us. If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVP’s (landing craft vehicle personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach.” The Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial in West Pawnee Park features a replica of the landing craft, bronze soldiers and a statue incorporating pieces of World Trade Center steel.
Other places of interest:
1) Glur’s Tavern, known for its delicious burgers, is the oldest continuously operated tavern west of the Missouri River. Legend has it that Buffalo Bill slapped a thousand dollar bill on the bar and told patrons to drink until it was gone.
2) Dusters Restaurant and the Gottberg Brew Pub is located in a former Ford assembly plant, garage and dealership. Check out the historical mural, tractor seat bar stools and grain bin ceiling while enjoying a great meal.
3) The Pawnee Plunge Water Park has a large zero-depth entry, four large slides, a lazy river, splash pad, Sand Play Area, FlowRider, Climbing Wall and 6-lane swimming pool.
4) Columbus Days (August 18 – 20) has something for the entire family; stage music, parade, foam dance party, turtle & dachshund dog races, Barbecue Classic, All-Ford Car Show and much more.
5) Live Thoroughbred Horse Racing fans can enjoy weekend races at Agricultural Park’s track August through Labor Day.
6) US 30 Speedway features a 1/3 mile clay track that offers Stock Car Racing every Thursday night from April through August.
7) Horn T Zoo in Monroe offers visitors a chance to get close to exotic animals from all around the world. Open weekends May through October.