When 2017 rang in on Jan. 1, I really didn't fully grasp how significant the year would be for Nebraska, and especially for Nebraska agriculture. For me and all of the local residents and Crofton natives living around the world, it was special because our "friendliest little town by a dam site" — Gavins Point Dam — celebrated 125 years of existence.
Our neighboring community to the west along Highway 12, Lynch, also celebrated its quasquicentennial. Not only is the 125th birthday a mouthful to say, it is also a milestone to remember.
Crofton is a young community compared to many in the state or even neighboring towns in northeast Nebraska. Our community was founded, like so many, on the promise of a new railroad being built across the prairie. My great-grandfather worked with other local farmers with his team of horses and a horse-drawn scraper to help build part of the railroad grade, some of which is still visible on our land today.
However, J.T.M. Pearce, the promoter of the railroad, suddenly pulled out of the area in 1894, supposedly sulking away to South America with everyone's money. The railroad grade that was being built in the 1890s never saw a track installed and never carried a single train. That put Crofton at a standstill. Businesses closed. Folks moved away. In 1906 when the railroad actually did come to our town, the community was bustling again, with churches, school buildings, saloons and other necessary institutions being built at a rapid pace in subsequent years.
In 1976, the last train left Crofton, so the railroad line that founded the town was eventually abandoned. However, the community has found new ways to build and prosper. So it was worth celebrating our historic past this summer to remind us how far we have come.
Adding to the celebratory mood of our residents is the state’s 150th birthday party that has been going on all year. As part of Crofton's celebration over the July 4 holiday, the Nebraska 150 mobile Children's Museum spent a couple of days in town, educating both young and old about our beautiful state. Agriculture was well-represented in this mobile museum, and I think both parents and their children walked away from the interactive displays with a greater knowledge of the places we call home.
More birthdays to celebrate
Nebraska Farm Bureau members are celebrating their centennial in 2017. If you visit the organization's centennial website, nefb.org/centennial, you will find all kinds of centennial facts about milestones in Nebraska agriculture and the growth of one of the state's prominent agriculture groups.
Finally, Husker Harvest Days is marking 40 years from that fall day when local farmers and implement dealers went to the show site west of Grand Island in 1977 to break ground on what would become the world's largest totally irrigated farm show.
Certainly, we all want to continually look forward. We need to look forward and plan out our future to some extent in order to meet goals for ourselves and our farms and ranches. Admittedly, most of what we write about in these pages has to do with looking forward at the latest and greatest in technology, efficiency and business practices.
But it is good and necessary for us to look back occasionally to the past to see where we have been. Oftentimes, we learn from the sacrifices of those who went before us about what true courage, determination and ingenuity looks like. Those experiences of the past ground us and keep us on task to make a brighter future.