York County, Nebraska
For more than 145 years, the area known as York County has served travelers. Once a resting place for weary pioneers at local “road ranches,” York is still providing amenities and reasons to stop to thousands of tired and hungry guests. Those original “road ranches” have now given way to a multitude of lodging properties, dining opportunities, tourism attractions and customer service facilities.
It all started as a dot on the map – a point of reference for thousands of pioneers migrating along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. In 1869, freight stops and road ranches dotted the trails, particularly in York County. These forerunners of our current rest areas sprouted up for the traveling stage and freight horses, as well as providing “pilgrim rooms.” York was a popular stopping point on the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cut-Off, connecting the other major trails.
Replacing these early trails that once funneled settlers to all parts of the West are their modern counterparts, paralleling much of the same route almost one and a half centuries later. Interstate and U.S. Highway 34 intersect with U.S. Highway 81, the Pan American Highway, which truly makes York the Crossroads of the Midwest . . . and America!
History abounds at these crossroads, and York invites you to spend an hour or two, or a day soaking up the history, quiet beauty and relaxing, down-home atmosphere that makes it such a unique stop along your travel route.
Step back in time at Wessels Living History Farm, a working 1920s era farm located just south of the York Interchange on Highway 81. Wessels has received several tourism awards, including Nebraska Department of Tourism’s Outstanding Tourist Attraction, Blue Star Member, Heritage Nebraska Destination Designation Place, Nebraska Rising Star Attraction and Nebraska Passport participant.
More history can be found at the Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park, located just south of the Henderson exit. This park focuses on the fascinating Mennonite heritage and ethnic background, religious persecution, and relocation to Nebraska. They were some of the very early innovators of underground, deep-well irrigation.
The newest museum is Clayton Museum of Ancient History, located on the York College Campus on the lower level of the Mackey Center. It houses a rare world-class collection, focusing on the ancient world, specifically the civilizations of Mesopotamia and the vast Roman Empire.
Also of interest is Lee’s Marble Museum, which is one of the world’s largest, privately-owned play marble collections with more than a million marbles exceeding $1,000,000 worth of handmade and machine-made marbles. The Chances ‘R’ Restaurant and Lounge has been in the same family for more than 60 years and enjoys a national reputation. Fried chicken and prime rib are their specialties, along with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, and carrot cake. The “R” hosts more motorcoach tours than any other restaurant in the state of Nebraska.
To learn more about York and York County, visit yorkcountyvisitors.org or call Bob at the York County Visitors Bureau at (402) 362-4575.