A place to learn about the Sandhills

Pure Nebraska
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 12:03 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 12:21 PM CDT
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TAYLOR, Neb. (KOLN) - If you are traveling on Highway 183 between Taylor and Bassett, you might consider pulling over for a visit at Harrop Sandhills Park.

We caught up with local resident Sarah Sortum to talk about the park. It turns out this park is a great place to stretch your legs, and learn about Nebraska’s Sandhills. “This is about a 13-acre park,” Sortum said. “It has interpretive signs on it. Here, we discuss the history of the area, interpretive signs touch on ranching, and the park also puts a focus on the Kincaid Act, and how that impacted settlement.” The park also discusses the history of a former town called Harrop. “It used to be a town not right here, but just down the river from here,” Sortum said. “It was named after a settler from this area.” The town never survived.

The area where the park is located used to be a school section of land. “The way Highway 183 comes through here, it cuts one corner of the school section,” Sortum said. “About 30 years ago, a group of citizens thought it would be a good place to put a park. They decided to create an interpretive park where people can get out and enjoy the Sandhills, and this was created back in 1994.”

People leave notes about their experiences at the Harrop Sandhills Park. “We have a little mailbox over here,” Sortum said. “Visitors are encouraged to write down their thoughts, and it’s just great to go through those notes and see what people are saying. A lot of people say it’s peaceful, some say they had no idea the Sandhills were this beautiful, and some people say they learn a lot about ranching here. We hear from a lot of in-state people, but a lot of out-of-state people as well who are traveling through.”

There are trails in the park that people can take including a natural trail that features plant identification signs. There are also some signs that feature quotes from old homesteaders. And, there is a trail that goes back to a gravesite of a pioneer girl. “This is all kept up by volunteers in Loup County,” Sortum said. “It’s been a team effort. 4-H kids have done maintenance, and we’ve received some money from the local community fund to help with signs as well.”