publications

Picnic Mishaps

Picnicking is one of the most enjoyable summer pastimes, and Nebraskans more than one hundred years ago enjoyed it as much as we do today. Occasionally, however, these outings were marred by mishaps more serious than the presence of ants. The Omaha Daily Bee of August 17, 1885, reported several unusual occurrences at the recent Union Pacific band picnic at North Bend. The Bee said:



“The train of fourteen well-filled coaches left the Union Pacific depot [in Omaha] at 8:30 a. m. . . . The members of the band had considerable trouble when the train started, as it was discovered that suspicious persons were on board and that between thirty and forty boys were trying to beat their way and were concealed under the seats. The train was therefore stopped and the gang removed from the train. At Valley a little fellow was discovered riding on the trucks under the car. He was pulled out with his hat all in shreds and clothes badly torn.”



When the UP picnickers reached North Bend, they enjoyed a basket lunch and an afternoon of games, one of which caused injury to a bystander. “Mrs. Lewis Stemm had a very narrow escape from what might have been a fatal accident. She was passing by the heavyweight striking machine, while the mallet was raised, and was struck on the side of the head. She was unconscious for a moment but was soon revived. A hammock was put up by the members of the band and the suffering woman was made as comfortable as could be done. The members of the band said after this they will never allow any more striking machines at their picnic.”



Another unusual accident befell a party of Albion picnickers in 1907. The Norfolk Weekly News-Journal of June 14, 1907, under the headline “Buggy Burns, Lunch Too,” reported: “The most peculiar conflagration ever heard of happened in this vicinity. A fishing party given by Dr. and Mrs. L. E. Scouten, in honor of Miss Vera Allen of Omaha, were enjoying the enticing pastime of landing the elusive trout and sunfish and were so engrossed in the pleasant pursuit that they were utterly unaware of the fact that the carriage in which they came to the brook was burning while standing with the horses hitched to it.



“After awhile the pangs of hunger drove the party to their base of supplies and when they arrived at where they hoped to partake of an elaborate out-of-door dinner they found the feast in ashes as were also their carriage, wraps and bonnets. The faithful horses still stood hitched to the buggy tongue with their tails slightly scorched, but otherwise no worse for the fate that had overtaken the feast, the wraps and the carriage.”







John Nelson’s photograph of picnickers, dating to 1907-1917, included several horses and two buggies in the background. NSHS RG354:102-13


Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.