Nebraska Territory – A Trip into the Interior, 1858

The Nebraska City News of June 17, 1858, included a letter from an unidentified traveler who had recently made “A Trip into the Interior,” and wished to share information about the new areas he had visited, including the young town of Beatrice. The letter writer “left this City [Nebraska City] on Wednesday, May 28, for the Big Blue river, distant in a south west direction fifty-five miles. One year ago I passed over the same section of country, and the only evidence of civilization were a few, a very few log cabins reared by the hardy frontiersmen. I was expecting to meet with some improvements since my former visit, but was wholly unprepared for the great change that everywhere met my view . . . .

“I reached the Little Nemaha, distant ten miles from Nebraska City, and found it too high to ford, which obliged me to go some nine miles down to Shroal’s Ferry. The valley of the Nemaha is from one to two miles wide, and for the whole distance that I followed it was dotted here and there with a good class of farm-houses, . . . The Nemaha is well timbered, and mills are now in the process of erection at several points on the stream, which furnishes abundant power. I crossed the ferry in a very commodious boat owned by Mr. Shroal. From this point the road passes over a fine undulating prairie to the West Branch, or Big Nemaha. Reached there just after dark and enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. Clark, who prepared for us a very excellent supper.

“I rose early in the morning and pursued my way over a fine valley prairie for about twenty miles, when I came in sight of the forest bordering on the Blue and tributaries. . . . Near the junction of Indian Creek, on Big Blue river, is situated the town of Beatrice which dates back to its birth only one year. For improvements it has a steam saw mill, with lath and shingle machine attached, which is daily turning out large quantities of building material. The sound of the saw and anvil would seem to indicate the presence of a town of scores of years old rather than of a nurseling of a year’s growth, and until my intercourse with its residents, never have I fully appreciated the hospitality for which the American frontiersman is so proverbial. . . . In addition I will only say, that with the advantages of country and lumber that this town possesses, . . . the day is not far distant when it will rival some of its sister towns on the Missouri river that make at present far greater pretensions.”

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