Corbitt's National Parks
               National Monument of America


1936: National Monument

Size: 195 acres

2008 visitors: 71,314

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Free Land! Who could resist the lure? The United States in the middle of the 19th century had a problem -- How to convince settlers to brave the wild interior of the continent, settle the land, and cement the US's claim to the vast prairie? The answer, of course, was to give it away!

Over 10% of the United States was given away under this act. Any head of household could claim 160 acres, and if after five years he was still farming there and had built a home, then for the princely sum of $18 the land was his. Hundreds of thousands of people got land this way, immigrants, freed slaves, women too, and the interior of the United States began to be settled.

Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law in 1862, after the South had seceeded and the Civil War was underway. It was only repealed in 1976 (1986 in Alaska), and must be regarded as one of the most revolutionary concepts for distributing land in history.

What You're Going to See

The Daniel Freeman Homestead dates from January 1, 1863, the first day the Act took effect. Although it's impossible to prove if this was in fact the first Homestead ever, it's certainly one of the first. A visitors center offers an eighteen-minute video presentation, along with displays of historic objects and pictures showing life during hte homesteading years. A cabin dating from 1867 is near the visitors center as well.

There is a 2.5 mile trail from the visitor center that circles through a 100-acre tallgrass prairie restoration project on the way to the original Freeman cabin site and other buildings, the Freeman graves and other interesting sites. A school that was continuously used from 1867 to 1972 is a few miles away.

The tallgrass prairie is filled with long grasses such as Big Bluestem, Indiangrass, Switch Grass, Little Bluestem, and Cordgrass. Many different animals find refuge among these grasses like the white-tailed deer, ring-necked pheasant, bob-white quail, deer mice, prairie vole, among others. The monument also contains a large woodland area with a creek that snakes its way through. Bobcat, beaver, opossums, raccoons, and many different birds can be found in this habitat. The forest is made up of stately white oaks, green ash, Oosage orange, and cottonwood trees.

Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, hiking, picnicking, touring the facilities, and watching videos. A Nebraska state fishing license is required.

Personal Observations

Someday, folks, someday.

Getting There

From Omaha, take I-80 southwest 45 miles to Lincoln. Take US 77 south for 41 miles to Beatrice. Take Highway 4 west for 4.5 miles to the Monument.

Nearby Attractions

The nearest attraction is Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, about 100 miles to the southeast in Topeka, Kansas.

Not visited yet.