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Keeping the adventure alive in Nebraska City

Pure Nebraska
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 7:45 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - You are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark with a visit to the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center.

We recently visited with the center’s executive director, Doug Friedli about this great destination. “We want to honor everything that went on in this area that Lewis and Clark encountered,” Friedli said. “Here at the center, you can look right across the river to Iowa. Missouri is nine miles away, and Kansas is not too far away, either. So, this four-state area is what we highlight in telling the story of Lewis and Clark.”

There is quite a bit to see at the center when you visit. “Some people come to look at nature,” Friedli said. “We have 80 acres of property here. Some people want to walk the 2 and a half miles of trail. Some people want to look at the river and the view. Some people want to see the history, and we have all kinds of things to tell the story of the Lewis and Clark journey. We have 3 floors of exhibits, and 12,000 square feet of space. Some people come here just for a break. They’ve been traveling, and here is a rest stop. We are an official welcome center for the state, as there are 12 across the state.”

Friedli says Lewis and Clark has a big impact on the country, and on our region. “First of all, they were map makers,” Friedli said. “They were coming to an area where no one had visited, and they were blazing the trail for the pioneers that would follow them. Another one of their instructions from President Thomas Jefferson was to capture the culture of the Native Americans. However, they didn’t run into any Native American tribes until they got a little north of present day Nebraska City. That’s where they had the council on the bluff, with Oto Indians. By the way, when you are at the center you are standing in Otoe County.”

The visitor center is a privately operated facility. “We are privately owned and managed,” Friedli said. “We are one of the only centers like that in the country. However, we have a great relationship with the National Park Service. They originally owned this property, and then Congressman Bereuter wanted it to be privately owned and managed, so it’s not a burden on the taxpayers. So it’s a great vision, but it also means we do rely on donors and fundraising. Right now we are in the process of growing our endowment, which is by the way, managed by the Nebraska Community Foundation.”

For more information on the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center, call (402) 874-9900.

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