One of the off-the-beaten-path places we visited on our journey westward was in Nebraska. The Homestead National Monument of America is located near Beatrice (pronounced be-AT-riss) Nebraska.
From the NPS website:
The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a “fair chance.”
Millions of Americans including immigrants, women, and formerly enslaved men and women would make the dream of westward expansion a reality for this country. For over a century these settlers would test their grit and endurance in the untamed wilderness and remote frontiers. Homestead National Monument of America, located in Southeast Nebraska, commemorates this Act and the far-reaching effects it had upon the landscape and people.
It is the purpose of our government “to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”
– President Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1861
Like most of the other places we visited, this park was mostly deserted at the time we were there. A few rangers working in the building and a few fellow tourists walking the grounds outside were about it. But the park contains some excellent information about the Homestead Act and its impact on the settlement of the west.