Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 9:45 am
World-Herald editorial: Historical markers are worth a stop

It's a common, often unavoidable, experience. We zoom along in our cars when — whoosh — we catch a glimpse of a roadside historical marker, then watch it fade in the rear-view mirror.

What did it say? Hard to tell. Maybe next time.

As The World-Herald's David Hendee reported, the Nebraska State Historical Society recently dedicated a historical marker to commemorate an original section of the Lincoln Highway at Elkhorn.

It was Nebraska historical marker No. 500, part of a series that began back in 1961.

If you check out the historical society's website and look at the complete list, you'll find that the historical markers open up a sweeping panorama of Nebraska's past.

Each tells a story worth knowing.

The story of how the Bank of Florence, chartered in 1856, was a symbol of Florence's early community vision. The stories of hard work and ambition that built communities such as Kimball County in the west, Grand Island in the center and Bellevue in the east. Stories of the Omaha, Ponca and Pawnee, and of ethnic heritage including the Czech, Danish and Irish.

The markers explain how freight hauling, a key part of Nebraska's contribution to the national economy, has deep roots here going back to bustling 19th-century routes such as the Sidney-Black Hills Trail in the west and the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cutoff in the east.

The markers tell present-day generations of the contributions that Nebraska made to the nation during World War II. Nebraska provided foodstuffs, greeted soldiers at the North Platte Canteen, held German prisoners of war (many of whom helped out on Nebraska farms) and hosted some 11 U.S. Army Air Corps training centers. Evelyn Sharp, an Ord native who died in a plane crash in 1944, exemplified the contribution female pilots made to the war effort through the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron.

The 500 stories on Nebraska's historical markers help explain what makes Nebraska different from any other state. That's worth pulling over on occasion to see what story a historical marker has to tell.

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