Friday 20 July 2012

The America Project - Nebraska

Nebraska (NE) size 77,420 sq.m population 1.8 million

Bordering states Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri (6)
State capital Lincoln
Most populous city Omaha
Other notable places Bellevue, Grand Island, Kearney, Fremont
Notable landmarks and natural features Scotts Bluff National Monument, Pony Express Historic Trail, Great Plains
Statehood 1st March 1867 (37th)

Ten famous Nebraskans
Fred Astaire (actor and dancer; born Omaha, 1899-1987)
Marlon Brando (actor; born Omaha, 1924-2004)
Dick Cheney (politician, 41st Vice-President of the USA; born Lincoln, 1941 -)
Henry Fonda (actor; born Grand Island, 1905-1982)
Gerald Ford (politician, 38th President of the USA; born Omaha, 1913-2006)
Malcolm X (civil rights leader; born Omaha, 1925-1965)
Marg Helgenberger (actress; born Fremont, 1958 -)
L. Ron Hubbard (author and religious leader; born Tilden, 1911-1986)
Harold Lloyd (actor and comedian; born Burchard, 1893-1971)
Andy Roddick (tennis player; born Omaha, 1982 -)

Three important events

1. Niobrara (1857 - present)

Civic pride is something a lot of people whiffle on about. But if you want to know about real civic pride, look no further than the village of Niobrara, situated in Knox County, north-east Nebraska. Niobrara is the Native American word for "running water", which is some indication as to what happened next. Built next to the Niobrara River, the town flooded repeatedly. In March 1881, the town flooded with six feet of water and by April it had repeated itself on a further two occasions. The damp populace did what anyone would have done: gathering a group of teamsters, jacks, winches, capstans and mules, they shifted the entire village a mile and a half down the road. In 1970, the water table on the rise due to the Gavins Point Dam, the citizens did it again - although this time presumably using more machinery and fewer mules. Niobrara 3 was dedicated on 4th July 1977. It is unclear as to whether the residents fitted casters to their new homes just in case.

2. Lynching of Joe Brown (28th September 1919)

A 41-year old black packing house worker called Joe Brown who suffered from acute rheumatism was accused of assaulting a young white woman called Agnes Loebeck. Brown was arrested and taken to Douglas County Courthouse, Omaha on 28th September. An angry mob of between 5,000 and 15,000 people descended on the scene that night. By 8.30 that evening they had set fire to the building and were preventing the fire brigade from entering the street. The mayor came out to reason with the crowd but he was assaulted and lynched, not coming round until the following week. The mob then stormed the jail. Brown, who protested his innocence throughout, was dragged outside and hanged from a lamppost. He was then shot, stripped naked and his body burnt on a bonfire in the street. The cuddly locals sold pieces of the rope that made Brown's noose for ten cents a pop.

It was a gentler time, the past.

3. Krug Park rollercoaster accident (24th July 1930)

Rollercoasters - now there's something that's great fun. Unless the bolts that hold them together fail, causing structural collapse and their patrons to fall screaming to their deaths. Which is what happened in Krug Park, Omaha on 24th July 1930. The four carriage Big Dipper rollercoaster was whizzing merrily along carrying 23 children and teenagers when it derailed. Gravity did the rest, four being killed and 17 more injured, the other two presumably having had very strong thighs. The following day, rollercoasters were banned in Omaha. Those still seeking thrills in Nebraska's most populous city had to join the Ku Klux Klan instead.

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