Category: Site News

Situated right in the middle of Nebraska, along the Platte River and I80 sits the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center. The existence of the center is to maintain and protect the physical, hydrological, and biological integrity of the Big Bend area for the continual support of Whooping Cranes, Sandhill Cranes and many other migratory birds on the river.

The trust currently owns and manages approximately 10,000 acres, open to the public year round. This center is at the heart of Spring Migration for Sandhills Cranes, and offers public tours during this migration for a close up experience. The center manages several blinds and a few of these are reserved for overnight viewing, if you want to stay longer.

Take the walking path from the visitor center and you will find a viewing tower, and several viewing bridges along the way. Oh ya . . . The even have a herd of bison here!

This is an unexpected surprise right along the interstate, that many people may overlook.

Open 9 – 5 Monday thru Saturday (except holidays)

For migration season the hours differ. Please look online for their schedule.

Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center


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Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year in 2018. Get out and find a new trail, path, highway or small town you’ve not visited before. Enjoy the fresh air and simple beauty our state has to offer.


These famous people were born in Nebraska.

Grace Abbott (1878 – 1939) Social reformer that helped to write the Social Security Act. Born in Grand Island, NE (340)

Grover Cleveland Alexander (1887 – 1950) One of the greatest pitchers in baseball history; played for the Philadelpia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs, and the St. Louis Cardinals. Born in Elba, NE (351)

Fred Astaire (1899 – 1987) American film and Broadway dancer. He was also a choreographer, singer, and actor. He was considered to be one of the greatest dancers of the 20th century. Born in Omaha, NE (341)

Maximilian Adelbert Baer (1909 – 1959) Was an American boxer of the 1930s, one-time Heavyweight Champion of the World, actor, entertainer, professional wrestler and referee. Born in Omaha, NE (950)

Bil Baird (1904 – 1987) Was an American puppeteer of the mid- and late 20th century. Born in Grand Island, NE (951)

Marlon Brando (1924 – 2004) Actor who won an Academy Award for his role in The Godfather. Born in Omaha, NE (342)

Warren Buffett (1930 – ) Successful businessman, investor, and philanthropist.  Born in Omaha, NE (346)

Dick Cavett (1936 – ) Is a former American television talk show host known for his conversational style and in-depth discussion of issues. Born in Gibbon, NE (952)

Dick Cheney (1941 – ) White House Chief of Staff to President Ford, U.S. congressman, Secretary of Defense and Vice president of the U.S.; grew up in Casper.  Born in Lincoln, NE (670)

Edward Montgomery Clift (1920 – 1966) Was an American film and stage actor. Born in Omaha, NE (953)

Red Cloud (1822 – 1909) Oglala Sioux leader who defeated the U.S. Army in many battles.  Born in North Platte, NE (350)

James Coburn, Jr. (1928 – 2002) Was an American film and television actor who appeared in nearly 70 films and made over 100 television appearances during his 45-year career. Born in Laurel, NE (954)

Sandra Dale Dennis (1937 – 1992) Was an American theater and film actress. Born in Hastings, NE (955)

Mignon Eberhart (1899 – 1996) Was an American author of mystery novels. Born in Lincoln, NE (956)

Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton (1903 – 1990) Was a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is largely credited with transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory instrument into a common device. Born in Fremont, NE (957)

Ruth Etting (1897 – 1978) Was an American singing star and actress of the 1920s and 1930s. Born in David City, NE (958)

Henry Fonda (1905 – 1982) Actor who won an Academy Award for On Golden Pond. Born in Grand Island, NE (345)

Gerald R. Ford (1913 – 2006) Became the 38th President of the United States when Richard Nixon resigned; grew up in Grand Rapids. Born in Omaha, NE (267)

Hoot Gibson (1892 – 1962) Was an American rodeo champion and a pioneer cowboy film actor, director and producer. Born in Tekamah, NE (959)

Joyce C Hall (1891 – 1982) American businessman who became the founder of the Hallmark Card Corporation.  Born in David City, NE (347)

David Janssen (1931 – 1980) Was an American film and television actor who is best known for his starring role as Dr. Richard Kimble in the television series The Fugitive. Born in Naponee, NE (960)

Nick King (1941 – ) Is an American actor, film producer and former model. Born in Omaha, NE (962)

Dorothy McGuire (1916 – 2001) Was an American actress. Born in Omaha, NE (961)

Paul Revere (1938 – ) Musician, raised in Caldwell. Born in Harvard, NE (130)

Hilary Swank (1974 – ) Oscar winning actress; Known for her roles in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby.  Born in Lincoln, NE (619)

Inga Swenson (1932 – ) Is an Emmy award and Golden Globe-nominated American actress. Born in Omaha, NE (963)

Robert Taylor (1911 – 1969) Born Spangler Arlington Brough. Was an American film and television actor.  Born in Filley, NE (964)

Don Wilson (1900 – 1982) Was an American announcer and occasional actor in radio and television, with a Falstaffian vocal presence, remembered best as the rotund announcer and comic foil to the star of The Jack Benny Program. Born in Lincoln, NE (966)

Julie Wilson (1924 – ) Is an American singer and actress.   Born in Omaha, NE (967)

Malcolm X (Little) (1925 – 1965) One of the most prominent civil rights leader in the United States; He focused on black pride and economic reliance until he was killed in 1965. Born in North Omaha, NE (348)

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neb markersNebraska has a rich history from the early pioneer days, times of the settlers and early travel across our state. Many of our forgotten town sites, locales, people, points of interest and sites of historical value are marked by the Nebraska State Historical Society. Visit the official Nebraska State Historical Website for updated markers and their locations. Better yet . . . print off the list and see how many you have visited or will visit. If you enjoy traveling, make a game of it. Send us a comment about your favorite marker and why.

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We welcome you to As administrator of this website, I would like to take a few moments and introduce myself.

JohnshirtJohn Rains of Columbus, NE
Born in Aurora, raised in Columbus. Lifetime resident of Nebraska. Attended Columbus Elementary, Middle and High Schools.
Attended Central Community College – Platte Campus Columbus
25+ years in Retail Management and 6 years in Personal Banking
3 children, whom all live and work in Nebraska.

Avid Basketball participant, with a sense of adventure, who loves hiking, biking and exploring. Grew up camping and traveling throughout Nebraska with parents and family (See earlier article). Never a dull moment in my family!

My commitment to this website. . . If you’d like to see or share something about Nebraska, drop us a line. We are a work in progress and hope to enlighten and educate people about our state from our life and travel experiences. Thank you.

IMG_1052Nebraska is one of those places that when you fly over, you see cornfields and crop circles for the most part, or you drive East to West on I-80 and you see miles of corn, Grain Elevators in small towns about every 8 – 10 miles, and a River flowing along your south side. Ahhh. . . but Nebraska has much more to offer than that.

That stretch of I-80 river valley that you can only see 8 – 10 miles to each side has so much more past that. There are Sand Dunes in the north central part from an era millions of years ago, Dinosaur Fossils in several dig sites including a Museum that houses several Mastadons from an era gone by. Small mountains and surreal rock formations in the northwestern part of the state near Chadron offer beautiful scenery,hiking, biking and sightseeing. You can hike along a ridge overlooking the Missouri river near Brownsville where Lewis and Clark once stood. Stop in Ogallala and see where cowboys once roamed. Or stop in North Platte and see the ranch of Buffalo Bill Cody. Oh, and some of the best homecooked meals in little restaurants and cafes across the state. Not your chain restaurant types!

But not only is there a lot to see, but a lot to do. Canoeing or tubing down the Niobrara River, Loup Rivers, Dismal River and Cedar River. If you don’t know what tanking is, ask and we will tell! State Parks and Recreation areas offer camping, swimming, fishing hiking and biking across the state. There are hiking trails in almost every part of the state, also biking on paved or off road trails dot the state. Several cities offer horse racing throughout the year.

Nebraska has a lot to offer in it’s small towns and villages, and most certainly in the larger cities of Omaha and Lincoln. We like to think we are a well kept secret here! Rural America (Nebraska) is one of those places that within 10 minutes you can be out of town, driving and taking in fresh air, blue sky and scenery you didn’t know existed here.

We hope to share those experiences with you, and offer insight in what Nebraska has to offer all of us. Ask us what, when, where or how. We offer maps at the bottom of most articles or pages showing the location. Thank you.

The Nebraskabackroads Staff