Ranger Merrith Baughman says thousands came to view the original document, loaned to the Homestead National Monument by the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
“When we had our welcoming event on the 25th of April, we had about 450 people and the last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, between that Friday and Monday, we had well over 6,000 people, almost 62-hundred people, come,” Baughman tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KWBE.
In all, 38,000 visitors came to Beatrice to view the document and Lincoln’s signature at the bottom.
Baughman says visitors also attended the Chautauqua performances outside the Heritage Center and the Beatrice High School which attracted 200-to-300 people each night. She says the Chautauqua performances are funded for another three years and will start traveling the state.
But, it was the authentic Homestead Act of 1862 which drew the crowds. The Homestead National Monument used funds generated by national park fees to pay the $21,000 need to bring the document to Nebraska and guard it while here.
Baughman says everyone at the Homestead National Monument hated to see it go.
“I think we were all kind of like, ‘Oh, I wish it could stay for another, you know, six months’.
But there’s no way to pay for that long,” Baughman says. “So, I think we were a little sad to see it gone, but yes it is back in Washington and its back at the National Archives. So, back in its vault, who knows when to be seen again?”Thanks to Doug Kennedy, KWBE