This year marks our home state of Nebraska's 150th anniversary! To celebrate, Carson put together a list of the "Jewels of Highway 2" for USA TODAY. Nebraska's Highway 2 cuts through the heart of the Sandhills, a region that long ago sunk its claws into our hearts and minds and still hasn't let go. The route is celebrated for the scenery, the intact and unspoiled grasslands covering thousands of square miles, but rarely do people credit the many gems--some hidden, some less so--scattered along the way.
Ironically, the decline of the potash industry that sparked the idea also pushed the highway to fruition. By 1919, demand for Nebraska’s potash had already begun to wane, leaving many in Box Butte County without jobs. They were put to work by the Department of Roads, and by 1923, the nearly 300-mile trek through western Nebraska was passable. Three years later, the Potash Highway was incorporated into Nebraska Highway 2. Today, many tourists consider its western half, deemed the “Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway,” one of the most evocative drives in America.
There’s no beating the big skies and rolling, grassy dunes of the Nebraska Sandhills themselves, what author Jim Harrison called “without a doubt the most mysterious landscape in the United States.” But driving through it is only half the fun. Step out from behind the wheel and enjoy these seven jewels, listed below from east to west, of Nebraska Highway 2.
Check out the full story for USA TODAY Travel here: