Questions of the Week – Readers ask about giant pumpkins, historical markers

The following questions were asked by inquiring readers:


Q: This time of year we are always seeing things on social media regarding the amazingly huge pumpkins that people have grown. What pumpkin holds the world record and where was it grown?

A: Actually, the record was just broken.

As of Oct. 10, a 43-year-old Minnesota educator has grown the heaviest pumpkin on earth. Travis Gienger, a horticulture and landscape teacher at Anoka Technical College, set the new world record after growing one weighing 2,749 pounds.

He grew the pumpkin in his back yard and gave them extra attention, including giving them extra fertilizer and watering them a dozen times a day.

The previous world record, according to Guiness World Records, was set at 2,702 pounds in 2021 by Stefano Cutrupi in Tuscany, Italy.


Q: Why do we give away candy on Halloween?

A: According to numerous sources, the candy industry was on the hunt for a fall holiday and parents were looking for an organized activity to keep youngsters out of trouble. By the late 1940s, passing out treats was established as an alternative to tricks, as pranks and mischief had been the only Halloween tradition prior to that.


Q: What items are not accepted at York’s landfill?

A: Items that are not accepted are batteries, wet paint, liquids, chemicals, solvents, hazardous waste and asbestos.


Q: Are there any historical markers in York County?

A: There are several.

There is one in Bradshaw. Its text says: “After 1861 an important variant of the overland trails system, the Nebraska City-Fort Kearney Cutoff, passed nearby, over which freight was transported from the Missouri River to western forts and mining camps. The region’s first settlements were road ranches supplying trail travelers. Permanent towns and villages sprang up in the late 1860s and early 1870s as farmers came to claim land under the Homestead Act of 1862. In 1880 the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad extended its line from York to Grand Island, platting Bradshaw on land purchased from Jesse and Mary Bradshaw Richards and giving the village Mary Richards’s maiden name. A major event in Bradshaw’s history was the June 3, 1890, tornado that destroyed the village, killing twelve and injuring sixty. By 1900 Bradshaw had been rebuilt and tallied a population of 365. In that year 354 railcars of cattle and hogs and 672 railcars of grain were shipped from Bradshaw. In the twenty-first century agriculture remained the economic mainstay for Bradshaw and the surrounding region.”

There is another in Henderson. Its text says: “Thirty-five families comprised the original Mennonite settlement in York and Hamilton Counties, Nebraska. They were part of a large segment who left homes in South Russia in 1874 and began the trek that took them to the American plains. Originally from Holland, these people, who believed in peace as a way of life, had gone to Russia and finally to the Crimea in 1790. When their privileges of military exemption and religious freedom were threatened, thousands emigrated to North America. The Mennonite immigrants purchased land from the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. Generous in its services, the R. R. Company erected an immigrant house which provided shelter until individual homes were built. Its location is designated by a commemorative marker one mile east of this site. By 1878 approximately eighty families lived in the settlement, and a town established in 1887 was named in honor of David Henderson, an earlier homesteader. Faith in God and a spirit of perseverance sustained these settlers through difficult experiences. When deep-well irrigation became widespread in this area in the 1930’s, fields of corn replaced the famous Turkey Red hard winter wheat Mennonites had brought from Russia. A new era in agriculture and industry had begun.”

There is another in Henderson. Its text says: “In 1887 the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railroad extended its tracks from York to Hastings. Henderson was built along the railroad on land sold by Cornelius Regier to the Pioneer Town Site Company in October 1887, for $15,000. The village, named for David Henderson, an early settler in Henderson Township, became a strong community center with businesses, homes, and a school established during the first year. The first church, built in 1906, was followed within a few years by two others. Railroad service continued to furnish the lifeblood of the town and aid its growth. Although the depression hit the area hard and the railroad decided to remove its tracks in 1941, community loyalty and resourcefulness helped overcome adversity. The development of deep well irrigation and the establishment of manufacturing plants to supply the irrigation business brought a new era of prosperity. During the 1950s and 1960s the town doubled in population, built a new hospital, a new school, and many new homes. The energy and cooperative efforts of its people have made Henderson a landmark among small, rural Nebraska communities.”

There is another in York, at the fairgrounds. Its text says: “In 1898 E. C. Bishop, a teacher in nearby Bradshaw, organized student clubs. Through these clubs he planned his school lessons so that they related to the students’ activities on the farm and in the home. The first projects Bishop assigned dealt with corn growing, sewing, and baking. Similar student activity clubs were organized in several states at this time, but Bishop’s efforts are regarded as the beginning of 4-H club work in Nebraska. Bishop became York County Superintendent of Schools in 1900 and continued to stress the importance of youth organizations. In 1905 he organized state-wide boys’ and girls’ associations. As State Superintendent of Schools (1909-1911), Bishop took charge of youth work. He wrote, ‘We expect each of our members to learn to do something worth doing–something the world wants done. . . and to lead himself into an education that will bring the fullest development of the triunity–the hand, the head and the heart.’ Although health has been added as the fourth H, Bishop’s beliefs are still idealized in 4-H work.

There are two at both rest areas along Interstate 80 in York County. The text at each says: “Massive freighting of supplies by ox and mule trains was a direct result of the establishment of Fort Kearny and other western military posts. The Mormon War and the discovery of gold in the territories of Colorado and Montana increased this trade, and Nebraska City became a major freighting center between 1858 and 1865. Early freighters used the Ox-Bow Trail which looped northward to the Platte Valley and west to Fort Kearny. The competition with other Missouri River Towns forced the freighters to seek a shorter, quicker route. The new route, the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cut-off, passed near this point. It was originally marked by a plowed furrow of over 180 miles. In 1862 Joseph Brown brought to Nebraska his famed steam wagon, an invention that would hopefully revolutionize plains freighting. Bridges were constructed and other improvements were made to facilitate this machine. The experiment was a failure and the wagon never got beyond the outskirts of Nebraska City; even so, the cut-off is also known as the Steam Wagon Road. Overland freighting reached its peak in 1865 when over 44 million pounds of supplies were shipped from Nebraska City. The construction of the Union Pacific Railroad across Nebraska, however, signaled the end of major freighting on this trail.”

And there is one more. It is north of Henderson. Its text says: “Between 1855 and 1867 companies like Russell, Majors, and Waddell shipped millions of pounds of freight across the plains to supply military posts and mining camps to the West. After 1861 freighters followed the Nebraska City-Fort Kearney Cut-off instead of the longer Ox-Bow Trail, which looped north along the Platte River. The new route crossed York County in a northwesterly direction. Road ranches were established along the trail, where provisions, livestock, and lodging could be obtained. Porcupine Ranch was the first of five road ranches in York County. Situated at Porcupine Bluffs on Beaver Creek near the western border of the county, the ranch was established in 1863 by Benjamin F. Lushbaugh, Agent to the Pawnee. During the 1860s the ranch provided water and supplies to thousands of emigrants and freighters. It was also a relay station for the Overland Stage Company, which carried passengers and mail. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad through the area in 1867, emigrant, stagecoach, and freighting traffic declined. Porcupine Ranch and other road ranches were soon abandoned as towns grew up along the railroad.”


Q: Years ago, there was an economic study done regarding the completion of the four-lane Highway 81 from York to Columbus. Can you find the results of that study and tell us what some of the aspects of completion would mean as far as economic impact?

A: The economic impact study was done several years ago. Here were some of the findings at that time:

  • $195.4 million to the Nebraska economy during the construction period;
  • $20.7 million in value created from reduction in accidents;
  • 40-60 percent reduction in accidents;
  • $1.2 million in savings due to reduction in daily commute times;
  • Many benefits to the trucking and service sector;
  • $281 million in state and local taxes.

The study was done many years ago, so it would be assumed those figures are much higher today.


Q: The other day, I was watching the county commissioners’ meeting online and at some point, when there was conversation coming from the audience, I saw on the wall artwork that said “In God We Trust.” What if some people in the county don’t believe in God? Were tax dollars used to pay to put that on the wall?
A: The portion of the artwork that was installed in the commissioner chambers, which says “In God We Trust,” was not paid for with tax dollars. That portion was paid for with donated funds from private individuals. Inheritance tax funds were used to pay for the artwork displaying the county’s historic seal.





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