The World’s Columbian Exposition (popularly known as the Chicago World’s Fair), held in 1893, gave Nebraska an opportunity to display its products and accomplishments to the throngs who attended. Joseph Garneau, Jr., commissioner general of the Nebraska Columbian exhibit, prepared an accompanying booklet, Nebraska, Her Resources, Advantages, and Development, to attract potential settlers and investors to the state.
Garneau tried to present Nebraska in the best possible light throughout the twenty-four-page publication. The state’s climate was, he wrote, “invigorating and salubrious.” Winters were short and rarely severe. Rainfall was sufficient for all needs, “and as cultivation is increased and extended and trees reach maturity, there is little reason to doubt that the annual precipitation will perceptibly increase.”
Corn was the most important Nebraska grain crop in 1893. The Resources booklet reported that 4,981,754 acres had been planted to corn in the state the previous year. Wheat was next in importance, with 1,229,665 acres planted in Nebraska in 1892. Sugar beet culture, centered at Grand Island and Norfolk, was portrayed as another source of Nebraska agricultural riches.
Several alternative crops were mentioned. Garneau reported, “Tobacco culture has been experimentally tried in the State, and has resulted in a crop of fifteen hundred pounds to the acre. . . . A company has been organized in Holt County, the object being to cultivate, purchase and manufacture the agricultural product of chicory.” Nebraska-raised fruit was praised: “Train loads of Nebraska apples were sent East during the shipping season of last year.” Cass County was said, perhaps with some hyperbole, to have produced the largest apple ever grown.
The Nebraska livestock and dairy industries, and even bee culture, were briefly discussed. “Hunting and Angling” enthusiasts learned, “Duck abounds, also quail, snipe and other delicate wild fowl. Big game, is of course extinct since the buffalo retreated before civilization’s march,” but fishermen could expect to find streams and private fish ponds plentifully stocked.