Welcome to Railroad Town, Nebr.!
Stuhr Museums 19th Century Living History Community opened on Sunday, May 1. The town will be staffed with living historians who will be in the homes and businesses of town, going about their business but never too busy to stop and talk about the town and their time. There is much to explore in Railroad Town, but for those wanting to plan your day at Stuhr Museum a little more, every day will include hands-on activities for everyone to take part in that help you experience aspects of plains life in the 19th Century.
And the year is… 1896
Railroad Town will look at the year 1896 during the course of the summer of 2016, and what an interesting year 1896 would prove to be!
Just like this year, 1896 was an election year, and sources state that the election was “decided after one of the hardest fought campaigns in U.S. history.” At issue were Republican concerns for hard money and a high tariff to protect American industry, while the Democrats looked at the free coinage of silver as the major issue. The candidates ended up being Nebraska’s own William Jennings Bryan – an orator of great attraction — facing off against William McKinley. Despite W. J. Byan’s fiery “Cross of Gold” speech at the July 11th Democratic Convention, William McKinley would win the day on November 3rd, 1896 with Garret A. Hobart as Vice President.
In other news, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was legal in Plessy v. Ferguson, a decision that would not be reversed by the Court until 1954 and 1955. We also saw the entry of the 45th state – Utah – on January 4th, and the establishment of Rural Free Postal delivery on October 4th. This was the year that journalism introduced “The Yellow Kid” a sketch that would soon become a comic that appeared weekly in the New York World Newspaper. Another change in newspapers was the introduction of advice for the lovelorn columns with the Dorothy Dix column in the New Orleans Picayune. 1896 also saw the first moving picture on a public screen, the first Ford automobile was built – although the test drive was delayed a bit while the shed door was made wide enough for the car to exit; Christian evangelism was on the rise, seven-eighths of the wealth in the U.S. was held by one-eighths of the population; the first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece in April; and gold was discovered in the Yukon Territory. Word of the discovery would not reach the U.S. for almost a year, but would spark the second largest land rush in our history.
But what about local news? What was happening in Nebraska? Hall County? Grand Island? The answer to this question will be found in the weekly Platte Valley Independent Newspaper for 1896. You can pick up an issue when you visit the Platte Valley Independent office in Railroad Town - the editor of the newspaper likes to get them printed every Friday. If you can't make it to town every week stop back by this page and take a look over in the sidebar (it will show up below if you are looking at the page on a mobile device). We will post an issue that you will be able to download.
Below is a map of Railroad Town, Nebr. that you can download and print.