BEATRICE – Motorists driving east or west near a southeast Nebraska National Park Services attraction will now see the new name of the park.
A Nebraska Department of Transportation crew was putting in place the first highway sign with the new name, Homestead National Historical Park, along Nebraska Highway 4, near the Freeman School. A second sign, east of the Heritage Center, is also being replaced.
Park Superintendent Mark Engler says a series of a dozen signs around the Beatrice area are being updated with the new name.
"We're excited to see the change continue and think it will help visitors traveling to the park better understand now exactly who we are and what we are. We're just very appreciative of all the help and the cooperation we're getting from so many people."
The words Homestead National Historical Park will also go on a couple of new signs along Interstate 80, to help direct visitors to the park four miles west of Beatrice.
"We are right now in discussions with the Nebraska Department of Transportation and as well as Nebraska Travel and Tourism. We look forward to also having those changed out in the near future."
Traffic was reduced to one lane on Highway four today as a maintenance crew was putting up the new signs. As for the Homestead’s permanent markers within the park’s boundaries, Engler says those are under design.
"The Harper's Ferry Center within the National Park Service has been helping us with those, ensuring that the designs are proper and meet National Park Service standards...and their contracting office is helping us move that work forward. We actually look for the permanent signs to be put in place sometime next spring."
For now, Homestead permanent markers sport a cloth covering with the new name, until the permanent changes can be made.
Homestead and community leaders sought to rename Homestead to better depict the impact and tell the story of the Homestead Act of 1862….and help draw more people to the historical park to learn about one of the most important pieces of legislation in United States history….a law that helped settle much of the nation.