FastFacts about the Prairie

My husband and I recently decided to explore our local area, mainly the beautiful country between Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska.  For those of you who have never driven this small, 40-mile section of the I-80 corridor, you’re truly missing a beautiful part of our country.


Holy Family Shrine in Nebraska
Holy Family Shrine in Nebraska

For years, we’ve made this drive between the two cities and have always wondered about the large glass structure on the vista overlooking the Platte River.  I decided no more wondering.  It was time to stop at the Holy Family Shrine. It’s a unique church that stands on a hill visible from both directions on I-80. The Holy Family Shrine is glass-walled, with supports holding up its 45-ft. tall roof. A man-made stream bubbles along a path cut along the walkway to the entrance and then in the floor of the nave.  The idea for the shrine was hatched in 1993, and a series of miracles led to the acquisition of property and building of the shrine, which opened in 2002. Interstate drivers have a place to stop and pray and look out over the land where pioneers once traveled.



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The cross outside the Holy Family Shrine

Here are a few of the other views from atop the vista.

Praire pictures
Overlooking the Platte River
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The Prairie Grass










  • Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America.

  • Today less than 4% remains. A

  • single blade of big bluestem might have a root system descending over 8 feet underground.

  • The Platte River is about 310 mi (500 km) long. It flows for over 1,050 miles (1,690 km).

  • The Platte River is a tributary of the Missouri River, which is a tributary of the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

  • The major emigration trails established along the north and south banks of the Platte and North Platte River were the Oregon Trail (1843–1869), the California Trail (1843–1869), the Mormon Trail (1847–1869) and the Bozeman Trail (1863–68).

  • This network of trails, sometimes called the Emigrant Trails or the Great Platte River Road, all went west along both sides of the Platte River.

  • LEAVE A COMMENT and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win your choice of books from my backlist!

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32 thoughts on “FastFacts about the Prairie”

  1. Wow! A glass shrine out in the country. It looks Awesome!

    Thank you for sharing all the fun facts too!

    Would love to be entered to win one of your books.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • Hi Janine! I’m not from Nebraska, not even close (Florida), and so I’m forever fascinated by the topography. Oddly enough, the tall prairie grass reminds me of the sawgrass on the North Florida beaches. So cool!

  2. What a pretty, calming site for the shrine…and the view. Think of all the pioneer women that walked along those trails and saw the same view too.
    Thanks for sharing the facts with us.

    • Linda, yes, I was struck by that very thing. Some of those pioneers were like me and had never seen anything like the prairie. Wonder if they were equally fascinated, or if they experienced a moment of despair as they saw the endless miles up ahead they still had to travel. Food for thought.

  3. I would dearly love to travel your part of the country. I have been told by friends and family that the prairie country is indeed one of the most beautiful areas in this great country.

    Having never read one of your books I would love to be entered into the contest.

  4. I’ve only driven through the area one time on a trip back to Wisconsin after visiting Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain National Parks. I remember stopping in Omaha to eat. It seemed like a nice place to live. People were friendly and the city looked clean.

    Thanks for all the interesting facts.

  5. Laurie, one of the wonders of Nebraska I immediately discovered when we moved here was the cleanliness of the cities. There is such pride in ownership here. I love it!

  6. The shrine looks beautiful and I bet the view was just as great! (I know, pictures don’t do justice)
    8′ for a root system?! For a grass? Crazy. 🙂

  7. Hi Renee, great info and pix.,don’t you just love the hidden treasures that are close by? I attended college in Nebraska and agree it’s a totally beautiful, interesting state. I’ve set a few novels there. I truly enjoyed this post. Xo

  8. As a native Nebraskan, I often travel the Highways and byways of our beautiful state. Interstate 80 is the most often traveled path across Nebraska and is beautiful tho flat. Highway 20 across the northern part of the state gives a good view of what the state probably looked like many, many years ago. Rolling hills, small towns, and lazy rivers make up much of the trip. I often think of the struggles the pioneer women had as they followed their men westward.

    The chapel you speak of is indeed a beautiful peaceful place and I hope to stop there again soon. Thank you for reminding me.

  9. wow what a beautiful location and structure. I love places like this that have history all around it. I love knowing that just by standing there you can feel the history moving all around you and now by standing there you are a part of it.

  10. I live so very close to this area, actually just 2 hours away. It’s nice to see some of Nebraska’s beauty. The Platte River runs within 2 miles of my house. It’s a beautiful place for High School Seniors to take pictures. Thank you for your pictures and information as well! Lisa G

  11. I like the idea of a glass church. The blue color is beautiful. To sit and think about the many people who went through that area at that time is mind boggling. Our forefathers & mothers were very brave to leave all they knew and strike out for a land unknown. Thanks for the post.

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