As many as 30,000 people attended the four days of events hosted by the Homestead National Monument of America during the Great American Eclipse.
Superintendent Mark Engler says an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 people attended the eclipse watch party on Monday.
“We base our estimate on the number of people that the transportation system was able to carry, coupled with the number of school buses and charter buses, the commercial bus companies that were coming to the monument with riders,” Engler tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KWBE.
Engler says the monument set records for single-day visitation, as the eclipse events drew people from nearly every state in the U.S. Beatrice was near the center of the path of totality for the eclipse.
Engler says the total coming to the monument over the four days was staggering.
“We believe that estimate, based on those same factors, is close to around 30,000 people,” according to Engler.
NASA provide a big attraction at the Homestead Monument, where it hosted programs. Scientists gave a fuller explanation of the eclipse.
And Engler adds that while numbers are nice, the experience is what matters most.
“I received a message from a person earlier and learned about this person’s compelling experience out here at the monument and being able to interact and participate in those programs. This person shared that they thought that their experience was a life-changing experience and, I guess, how do you measure that? I don’t really know,” says Engler.
Engler says the eclipse events provided a great opportunity for the community and for the monument to attract first-time visitors, discovering a national park. National media coverage also helped introduce the Homestead Monument to people around the globe. Engler says live streaming of events played a significant factor.
Some who traveled to Nebraska to observe the eclipse actually stopped by the Homestead Monument on Tuesday on their way out of state. The monument might soon close in on record attendance.
The record is about 102,000, set in 2012, the year of the sesquicentennial display of the official Homestead Act, at the monument’s Heritage Center. The second-highest attendance on record came in 2016, when the Homestead registered a total of 87,754 visitors. That was the year the National Park Service launched the “Find Your Park” campaign, and the Homestead quarter was unveiled as part of the “America the Beautiful” quarter series.
Doug Kennedy with KWBE provided the information for this report.