About MindenVisitors flock to Minden and the Platte River Valley each spring to experience the arrival of hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes who spend several weeks in the area on their migration route north. Cranefest, celebrated in mid-March, includes art displays, a dance, a costume contest and bird-watching and photography opportunities, culminating in the Feathered Friends Fun Night.
A different type of celebration is held much later in the year. Minden's claim to the title “The Christmas City” dates to 1915, when the town square was first decorated with lights. The event has grown into a winter holiday extravaganza, and more than 12,000 holiday lights now accent the architectural features of the courthouse and other buildings around the square. A highlight of the season is The Light of the World pageant, which has been presented since 1946.
Minden, the Kearney County seat, is, appropriately enough, in the center of the county. The city gained that status in 1876 when a special election allowed county voters to choose a central location as the county seat and Minden was selected over the not-so-central Lowell. Lowell, however, refused to release the county records, and Minden residents had to travel to Lowell, load the records into a wagon and physically transfer them, much to the dismay of the citizens of the losing city.
Prior to settlement by Danish, German and Swedish immigrants in the 1800s, the area that is now Minden was home to Pawnee Indians. Postmaster Frederick Bredemeier named the town for the city in Germany from which he emigrated.
The town prospered, and a branch of the Nebraska & Colorado Railroad reached Minden in 1883. Construction of the line further west was put on hold for a time, however, since there was no discernible population west of the county seat. The completed line eventually became the main rail route between Omaha and Denver, facilitating the marketing of area crops, which include corn, sorghum, soybeans, wheat and cattle.
Agricultural heritage aside, since 1953 the city has been known as the location of Harold Warp Pioneer Village. Warp, the youngest of 12 children of Norwegian immigrants, grew up on the Nebraska prairie and made his fortune as an early plastics manufacturer. Fascinated with the speed with which the country developed, he put together a huge, diverse collection of Americana that traces the evolution of American inventiveness.
Visitor Centers Minden Chamber of Commerce 325 N. Colorado Ave. Minden, NE 68959. Phone:(308)832-1811
Things to Do Harold Warp Pioneer Village
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