Southwest Nebraska Tour: Grant

As you can tell, if you've been following this blog for any length of time, I love Nebraska! Often in my travels I am inspired by her people and amazed by her beauty. Seldom, if ever, have I come away from a road trip feeling downhearted.

This past weekend, to combat a bout of spring fever brought on by a rare 70 degree day, I road tripped to the farthest south-west corner of the state. While there are bright spots among the sparse communities in that area, much of it is quite bleak.

I will blame part of my impression on the general late-winter bleakness that comes from bare fields and trees and dried foliage awaiting the spring. I will also blame part of my discouragement on the fact that I have been watching Penelope Keith's "Hidden Villages" on She explores the lovely quintessential villages that dot the English countryside. It truly is hard to compete with the lovely tiny communities she shares.

Years ago I wrote a post about the Village of Anselmo, and was harshly critical of the state of disrepair of the community. I was soundly taken to task by a justifiably incensed villager who disputed my points and shared her love of her community. I sincerely hope that happens this time! If I have misrepresented your Village on my brief travels through your area, please comment and tell me what makes it special!

I plan another trip to the area on a bright sunny day. Maybe make it a two-day trip so I can do more than have a brief drive-by of these communities. Perhaps my impression will change.

I'll start off describing one of the bright spots in the area, then next week finish up with a mixed bag of communities.

I cheated and took I-80 to Ogallala before turning south to come to the first community of the day - Grant. The current population of Grant is 1,115, down from a high of 1,270 in 1980. It is a thriving economic center of a largely agricultural region.
Water is an important resource no matter where you live, so it's only fitting that an early water source in what was once called "The Great American Desert" is commemorated with a historical marker. This is on Highway 61 coming into town from the north.
Grant, now Perkins County High School has long been a powerhouse in sports and other high school activities, and they are justifiably proud of their accomplishments
Grant is served by the Perkins County Chamber of Commerce, which also represents the other communities in the county, Madrid, Venango and Elsie. Their website lists 92 business members, not bad for a county with a population of only 2,944. Coming into town from the north, the colorful signs of this automobile dealership really catches the eye.
An interesting tidbit from the history of Grant: "When Grant was platted in 1886, the founding fathers missed the path the railroad would take by half a mile. Consequently, the entire town was loaded on skids or wheels and moved down the road in order to relocate beside the tracks." One of the downsides of traveling on a Sunday is that many points of interest are closed. However, there is a very nice little museum.
I'm not sure what the use is of this building, but it is a perfect example of a very well-kept historical building on Grant's main street. Very unusual, but very fortunate, for a community the size of Grant.
The Perkins County Arts Council maintains the Meadowlark Gallery on Grant's main street. In 2017, and for many preceding years, it has received more than 2,500 visitors.
I just love when communities utilize vacant lots, which could otherwise become eyesores into a community asset, such as this little pocket park.
A mural near the south side of town highlights Grant's agricultural heritage, with the primary crops of wheat, corn and sunflowers.
Another mural celebrates the pride of the Perkins County High School, and of course, the Nebraska Cornhuskers!
According to Wikipedia: "Grant City Park is a public park in Grant, Nebraska. The Works Progress Administration constructed the park between 1936 and 1939. Before the park's creation, Grant had no public parks other than a public swimming pool and softball field; recognizing a need for additional recreation facilities, the city's Garden Club convinced the Village Board of Trustees to approve a public park in 1935." Facilities in the park also include tennis courts and a swimming pool.

Other recreational facilities in the area include Pheasant Run Golf Course. As one Google reviewer mentioned " Well-maintained. A hidden oasis in rural Nebraska. Easy to get right on the course for an affordable price." Of course, abundant hunting opportunities are available on private land (seek permission!).

Stop back for more of the tour of southwest Nebraska!


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