The United States celebrated its first one hundred years with a Centennial Exposition, held appropriately in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was written and proclaimed in 1776. The exposition in 1876 covered 450 acres. Each state had its own building, and fifty foreign nations sent exhibits.
One of the most outstanding sections of the Nebraska exhibit was the Nebraska Horticultural Society’s pomological display. A committee composed of J. Sterling Morton, ex-Governor Robert W. Furnas, Stephen B. Hobson, and Hiram Craig solicited specimens for exhibit. Nebraska fruits, including pears, grapes, and apples, were entered in competition with those from many other states and Canada. The horticultural society received an award for its pears, which were “large smooth and well colored.” It received another award for its apples, which the judges honored “for the unusually large number of finely grown specimens of Excellent varieties, also for the general freedom from insect markings, fungus, and weather discolorations.”
Professor Samuel Aughey of the University of Nebraska described the state’s outstanding apple display in the January 1877 issue of the Nebraska Farmer: “The Centennial afforded a splendid opportunity for the comparison of apples from widely different regions. Happening to be there [at the exposition] for another purpose, I devoted the 27th of October to a comparison of the apples on exhibition from different states and Canada. On that day there were on exhibition 148 plates of apples from Nebraska. Mr. Randall, who had charge of the Nebraska department, had arranged these in the best possible manner . . . .
“Now, in comparing Nebraska apples with the products of other states, their superiority was evident in at least three particulars. First, their flavor was superior. Apples from regions that were comparatively insipid, when grown in Nebraska, were found to be finely flavored. This was the case with all the samples tested. Second, the color was superior. This was observed by every one who visited the Nebraska department, and every one who had an eye for the beautiful had a word of praise for these fine apples. Third, the Nebraska apples were exceptionally free from parasitic fungous growths. All the apples from other states that I examined, including those from Canada, were more or less affected by fungi.”
Aughey concluded, “The production of apples in this State will not be overdone for the next fifty years; and, therefore, for comfort, enjoyment, and revenue, the planting of orchards should everywhere be encouraged.”