Hemingford, Nebraska

North of Alliance and Scottsbluff, the Nebraska panhandle is a pretty lonely place.  Towns are few and far between, and when you finally do find one, there isn’t a lot to hold your interest.  Hemingford is one such place.

[tmt_info =””]From Carhenge, take Nebraska Route 87 north, then Route 7E west.  Route 7E ends at Route 2, in Hemingford. Beyond Hemingford, continue to follow Route 2 — it will intersect with Route 71, and turn north.[/tmt_info]

There are a few small businesses in Hemingford’s very small downtown…

… but the most dominant features on the skyline are the grain silos.

[tmt_info =””]Hemingford served as the county seat of Box Butte County from 1890 to 1899, when residents voted to move the courthouse to Alliance.  The area is a big potato producer, and around 1930 earned the title of “Potato Capitol of the World”.  (And you always thought it was Idaho.)[/tmt_info]

A few miles outside of town, where Route 2 meets Route 71 and turns north, I found this old building by the side of the road.  It probably once served as a church, or maybe a school, but those days are long gone.  Since there were no signs warning trespassers to stay away, I naturally assumed that trespassers were welcome, so I let myself in.

[tmt_info =””]Karen Joyce writes: This is not a church. It is a Z.C.B.J. hall. I’m not sure what that stands for but I know it was a hall where. Bohemians met. The only thing I know about it. Is they used to have parties there, lots of dancing and lot of drinking. A place where they brought the whole family. The kids played outside or even danced inside with the adults. They had food (potlucks) in the basement. Was a pretty wild place. My parents who were not Bohemians. Forbid me to go there. But as I was dating a Guy whose parents were there a lot I would sneak out there with him. I was always afraid my parents. Would find out that I snuck out there cuz it was a very small community where every one knew each other. This was in the 50s. There were 2 outhouses on each side of the building. Everyone always looked like they were having a great time. Would be a few drunks outside hanging around their pickups drinking. Probably didn’t have dates! That’s about all I know. Sad to see the history being lost.[/tmt_info]

After a terrifying encounter with an owl that was living in the rafters, I checked out the inside of the building, where the ceiling is slowly collapsing.  The floor didn’t feel terribly solid either, and since my heart was already racing from the welcome I received from the owl, I got the heck out of there.

After making the turn north, Route 2 continues across the prairie for a while, then suddenly becomes more interesting.  A few miles before reaching the town of Crawford, the road drops down from the flat farmland into a valley where erosion has added a lot of photo opportunities.  This land is the home of the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill site, as well as the odd formations of Toadstool Park, both of which require a little dirt road driving (which begins on the next page).



Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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