History Nebraska Blog

Marker Monday: Willa Cather Memorial Prairie

Welcome to Marker Monday! Each Monday we will feature one of Nebraska’s hundreds of historical markers. If you’d like to see a specific marker featured, send an email to jill.dolberg@nebraska.gov. Interested in hiking this scenic prairie? The annual Willa Cather Spring Conference will be held June 2-4, 2016 in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Cather scholars, general readers, and those interested in the arts will gather to celebrate Cather's legacy and Nebraska's cultural heritage. See their web site here.

Location: American Legion Memorial Hwy, Red Cloud, Webster County, Nebraska; 40.003983, -98.52316

Marker Text: Willa Cather first came to Webster County from Virginia in 1883 at the age of nine. The vast open prairies of Nebraska made a lasting impression on her. "This country was mostly wild pasture and as naked as the back of your hand. I was little and homesick and lonely and my mother was homesick and nobody paid any attention to us. So the country and I had it out together and by the end of the first autumn, that shaggy grass country had gripped me with a passion I have never been able to shake." Her life task became portraying how the pioneers tamed the wild land. The 610 acre Willa Cather Memorial Prairie preserves an example of the native grassland that once covered Nebraska. Throughout the summer, numerous wildflowers grow amid tall native grasses in an ever changing display of color. Here, life typical of the prairie flourishes as it did before the first settlers came. The prairie was purchased by the Nature Conservancy with a grant from the Woods Charitable Fund of Lincoln, Nebraska. Bibliography / Read On: Check out several Cather artifacts in the "Nebraska Unwrapped" Exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum. 

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