When the explorer William Clark reached the area around what’s now Nebraska City in July 1804, he was struck by the sight before him.
“Came Suddenly into an open and bound less Prarie, I Say bound less because I could not See the extent of the plain in any Derection,” he wrote in his journal.
When William Stolley sold his 160-acre farm near what’s now 152nd Street and West Dodge Road, he did something boundless.
Stolley preserved 24 acres of native grasses and wildflowers, undisturbed land that had remained virgin prairie since his grandfather was a homesteader in the mid-1850s. Known as Stolley Prairie, it’s a tribute to generations of the family, including William, who died this month at age 95.
Stolley’s grandfather taught him to love the land, his daughter said, and it was important to him to continue his grandfather’s visionary decision to preserve a piece of native prairie.
Those huge original swaths of prairie were a central force in shaping this region’s history. The vision of one family is an important legacy for all.