This morning we visited the Homestead National Monument of America.
The Homestead Act of 1862 offered free land (160 acres) for anyone willing to live on it, farm it, and build a home. Through this Act, the government gave away 270 million acres of land. Of that, only about 40% of the folks actually received the title for the land – which required five years of “homesteading.”
The NPS site is at the location of one of the very first parcels given away through this act. There’s not much to see in the land, but they have a nice “heritage center” (not sure why it isn’t just called a visitor center, but, I guess it doesn’t really matter). They have displays explaining the process of homesteading, the equipment used on the farms “back in the day” as well as pictures and stories from various homesteaders.
We particularly enjoyed the story of the last homesteader who got his land in Alaska in 1978. He cultivated it for the required five years, but it took another five years after that to actually get the title. Our guess is that no one really knew what it was when the request came in! He ended up selling his land in 1993 and that was the end of homesteading in America.
Visiting NPS sites, we hear a lot about homesteaders, so it was really good to learn a little bit more about the while thing. But, you have to really want to see this site. It is very remote and we had little, if any, cell service for about 24 hours.
From there, we headed into Lincoln, Neb. We will be here for a couple of days working with the Georgia All-State show, In the Heights, which is performing at the International Thespian Festival on Saturday night.