Route US 281 runs through east-central Nebraska from Webster County in the south through Boyd County in the North. By the mid-1920s all sections of this highway had been laid out in Nebraska. The number "281" was first applied to its entire length in this state in 1933.
In 1929-1930 a section of this road beginning four miles south of O'Neill and continuing to the south fork of the Elkhorn River was the subject of one of a series of federally directed projects to test construction methods for bituminous roads. These roads were covered with a mixture of oil, sand and gravel to a thickness of several inches. Although such a road surface had rarely been used in Nebraska to that time, so successful was the experiment that this bituminous mat became the principal type of paving used in the state until the 1950s. On March 30, 1960, U.S. Highway 281 was formally dedicated as the national "American Legion Memorial Highway." (SOURCE: Nebraska State Historical Society.) Marker 228. U.S. Hwy 281, 7 miles south of O'Neill, Holt County.
What say we jump on this ribbon of a highway here in Spencer, Nebraska and roll south bound to Red Cloud, just north of that Kansas line on this all American Main Street, US Highway 281. Please drive safely and give a shout to the folks along the way.
Spencer, 541. This community is on the north end of Nebraska, US Highway 281, near the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers. While we are up these way lets take a run over to the Niobrara River for a visit.
The Niobrara River drains over 12,000 square miles of the Sandhills, one of the largest stabilized dunefields in the world. Take a leisurely float on this outstanding Great Plains river in north-central Nebraska. Pine-clad hills and prairie, numerous waterfalls, tall sandstone cliffs and wildlife. Niobrara River National Park:
O'Neill, 3,338. Founded by John O'Neill in 1880. The official "Irish Capital of Nebraska". The World’s Largest Shamrock in the middle of the intersection where Highways 275/20/281 cross in downtown O’Neill. O'Neill Chamber of Commerce: City of O'Neill:
St. Paul, 2,207. About three miles above the confluence of the North and South Loup Rivers. The town is located on a gentle sloping terrace, which gradually rises from the level bottom lands of the South Loup, to the table lands on the west. St. Paul Website:
There are three Reservoirs and Recreation Areas around these parts of Nebraska 281. North Loup Recreation Area; Located 4 miles north of St. Paul along Hwy. 281. Davis Creek Reservoir; Located 6 miles south of North Loup, 1,100-acre lake offers fishing, boating, camping, hiking and water sports. Sherman Reservoir; Located 4 miles east and 1 mile north of Loup City, Nebraska, on asphalt road. The reservoir offers nearly 5,000 acres of land and 3,000 acres of water for almost every type of outdoor activity.
North of Grand Island is the Mormon Island State Recreation Area. It offers comfort and conveniences to campers and other travelers on US Highway 281. Named for the winter stopover used by Mormon emigrants heading westward. Mormon Island State Recreation Area:
Grand Island, 44,802. The fourth largest city in Nebraska. A full shop stop in this town. Check out the links attached for information of the area. The community also serves much of rural Nebraska, an area of over 20,000 square miles with an estimated population of over 200,000. Central Nebraska’s Platte River Oasis, offering tourist attractions and an active trade center.
Hastings, 25,343. Kool-Aid® got its start right here in Hastings. (Who hasn't drank some?) The internationally known soft-drink mix, loved by many for generations. This area has many cultural events, sporting facilities, historical sites and family friendly attractions. The Oregon Trail cuts across Highway 281 south of Hastings. A state marker marks the spot. (Oregon Trail Marker) Located in the agricultural heartland of south-central Nebraska. Adams County, NE Convention & Visitors Bureau: City of Hastings, NE: Hastings Community News:
(A few months back I did a post on another blog about "Kool-Aid®". Thought it would be fun to share a part of it here since we are visiting Hastings.)
For over 75 years, Kool-Aid® has provided smiles for millions of thirsty folks all over the world. A drink available in a variety of flavors, mixed as a powder with water and sometimes sugar. Anyone growing up knows that Kool-Aid® is not described by flavor, but by color, with the exception of grape. Grape was my favorite flavor.
What are your favorites? Do you like the smell of Kool-Aid. Have you ever made Kool-Aid with-out the aid of an adult? I like Kool-Aid® because it is easy to make and tastes good. Its better for you than soda. Is that true? I don't know? I will always think of this drink as the wholesome American drink I grew up with.
The Kool-Aid® Poem;
Yaaayyyyy for Kool-Aid!
Blue Hill, Nebraska 767. Located 40 miles south of Interstate 80 on U.S. Highway 281. It is forty miles north and a little east of the geographical center of the United States. The town is along the north border of Webster County and lies between the Republican and Little Blue Rivers. Blue Hill is one of a number of little plains towns common in Nebraska having sprung up twenty years after the close of the Civil War as crowds of homesteaders pressed westward. Blue Hill Website:
Red Cloud, 984. Here we are, just north of the Kansas State line on our south bound journey thru Nebraska on Highway 281. Founded in 1871 and named in honor of the chief of the Oglala division of the Teton-Lakota Sioux, who became nationally known in 1870 during the first of his many trips to Washington, D.C. as a negotiator in behalf of the Sioux. The Official Red Cloud Website:
It's a great road trip, take one yourself. Drive safely and ya'll come back.