[Floodgap Roadgap presents the Summer of 6]

Floodgap Roadgap's Summer of 6 -- U.S. Highway 6, Part 21: US 6 in Nebraska (Lincoln to Iowa State Line; Lancaster, Cass, Saunders, Sarpy and Douglas Counties)

Go to: Part 20 | Main US 6 page | Part 22

We conclude our sojourn in Nebraska with its capital city Lincoln and its largest city Omaha, and the only realignments of US 6 in Nebraska of significance.

Lincoln, the state capital and county seat of Lancaster county, was originally established in 1856 on the salt marshes of the region as Lancaster, of the same provenance as the county name when formed in 1859. The new name came after Nebraska was granted statehood in 1867; the capital of the territory had been Omaha, but to abort the population south of the Platte River from permitting annexation to Kansas, the legislature voted to move the capital to that location and as far west as possible. The effort was nearly scuttled when Omaha's senator had the new capital named for recently assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in an attempt to curry disfavour with Confederate sympathisers in that region but the Removal Act nevertheless passed. Lancaster's then small population and presence of salt and water made it the location of choice; its platte was not dissolved and was changed to the new name with a new broader platte by the fall of that year. The Capitol building was completed on December 1, 1868, and the University of Nebraska was established in 1869. The current Capitol is actually the third incarnation, after the second was built in 1888, razed in 1925 and replaced with a new building in four phases completed in 1932 (we'll visit it). As shopping moved from downtown to the surrounding suburbs starting in the 1960s, an expansion and revitalization program was established in 1969 which was only somewhat successful. Nevertheless, the city saw dramatic increases in population fueled by immigrant-friendly local policies that catered to new arrivals and made for some of the largest ethnic minority populations in the United States. The modern city has 287,401 residents [2018].

We will then reach the end of US 6 in Nebraska in Omaha, its largest city at 466,601 [2018]. Known to Native Americans in antiquity, the city derives its name from the Omaha ("bluff dwellers") tribe who were known to inhabit the area from at least the 17th century. However, the modern city was not established until 1854 by speculators from neighbouring Council Bluffs in Iowa, later christened the "Gateway to the West" from its ferry crossing over the Missouri River. Its central location made it an important transportation hub during the latter half of the 19th century; local industry and its once-world-largest stockyards continued its regional prominence into the 20th. Four Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Omaha, namely Berkshire Hathaway, construction company Kiewit Corporation, insurance and financial giant Mutual of Omaha (we'll drive by) and the largest railroad operator in the United States, the Union Pacific Corporation. Berkshire Hathaway's chairman and CEO Warren Buffet was born and still resides in Omaha, the 3rd richest person in the world as of this writing.

Entering Lincoln on West O Street, signed as US 6/ALT EAST I-80.
Junction US 77 (with NB US 77 signed for Interstate 80).
US 77 was an original 1926 highway, though its termini have varied greatly over the years. As originally signed it ran from South Sioux City, NE to Dallas, TX, but was extended to Ortonville, MN in 1930 on the north end and on the south to Sinton, TX in 1933, Corpus Christi, TX in 1935 and Brownsville, TX in 1945, where today it terminates at the Veterans International Bridge to Mexico with US 83 and US 281. In 1982 the northern portion of US 77 was cut down in favour of Interstate 29 and US 12, with which it was cosigned, and terminated in Sioux City, IA, just north of its historic terminus across the river. Indeed, the modern terminus is just a fraction of a mile north of the state line, representing the entirety of its routing in Iowa. In Nebraska substantial sections are named the Homestead Expressway as shown here; north of this point US 77 becomes almost full freeway before co-routing with I-80 (hence the signage). Portions of US 77 in Texas are being upgraded as I-69E, another of the remaining suffixed Interstates; the modern highway runs 1,305 miles.
Continuing through the west city.
US 6 turns north onto Sun Valley Blvd just shy of Salt Creek and the historic downtown. So let's do a little looking at the state capital before we do.

Diversion: The Nebraska State Capitol

As promised, we visit the state capitol building, the third and current incarnation built from limestone in four phases between 1922 and 1932. It is home to the only unicameral state legislature in the United States. Although we don't visit them here, the second floor also contains the Governor's office, the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Nebraska Court of Appeals. At the time of its construction it cost $9.8 million.

O St is now signed "TO US 34"; our old companion US 34 approaches from the east before diving north on I-180 at the 9th/10th St couplet.
However, the state capital is not on O; the grounds are in a quadrangle bordered by L and H Sts and 13th and 16th Sts.
The Tower on the Plains shown here is 400' from the base to the very tip of the finial. It was devised by lead architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who designed the tower as part of his 1920 blueprint, saying, "Nebraska is a level country and its capitol should have some altitude or beacon effect." Visible from over 20 miles distant, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976; the 1932 capitol grounds quadrangle was so designated as well in 1997. At 15 stories tall it was the highest building in Nebraska until 1969 when another building took the title (to be revealed when we reach Omaha); it is now the third-tallest.

On top a sculpture depicts a sower spreading "nobler ideas of living," designed by New York sculptor Lee Lawrie. The 19.5' finial stands on a 12.5' foot pedestal of grains, all of it in 3/8" bronze on top of a reinforced steel skeleton to support its 9.5 tons.

Entrance to the building, which had some construction going on at the time.
The inscription over the door says "the salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen." It was written by Hartley Burr Alexander, born in Lincoln in 1873, and a member of the building team. Alexander's inscription was inspired by his father, whom he said had taught him those words, and several other of his inscriptions are throughout the building serving as themes for the artwork they reside in.

The gilded bas-relief above it is entitled "Spirit of the Pioneers." Executed by Lawrie as a plaster maquette, the actual in situ carvings were done by Alessandro Beretta who completed the capitol's panels in 1934.

Walking the hallways, since the main entrance was closed.
The foyer and vestibule, with their symbolic mosaics.
Two of the murals in the vestibule.
These murals were painted by artist James Penney and added in 1964. The first is titled "The House Raising;" the second is "The Homesteader's Campfire." A third is titled "The First Furrow." All are meant to reflect the Vestibule's main theme of "gifts of nature to man on the plains."
Finally, the legislative chamber, sneakily photographed since the observation deck was closed.
This is the Geo. W. Norris Legislative Chamber, named after the Nebraska U.S. Senator in 1984, and the larger of the two historic chambers. Originally serving as the House chamber in 1933 and 1935, after Nebraska adopted a unicameral legislature in 1937 it served the entire body due to its size and continues to do so today. The former chamber to the east, the Warner Legislature Chamber named for state senators Charles and Jerome Warner in 1998, became a committee hearing room for some years and today serves as a public space.
Back to EB US 6 on Sun Valley Blvd.
[City US 6 in Lincoln.] The old routing continued east on O St to Cotner Blvd, proceeding north to the modern highway via that alignment and 70th St. I don't know when the realignment occurred, but the current routing dates back to the mid-1940s at the very latest; the former routing was signed as CITY US 6 until at least 1983 (lasting longer than Nebraska's other CITY US 6 in Hastings), as demonstrated in the undated photograph at right from the NDOT archives. Unfortunately I was losing light and wasn't able to travel it at the time, but I will mark its terminus presently.
Mile 314.
NDOT has been exploring plans to upgrade US 6 due to the narrow roadbed. Two current alternatives either involve directly upgrading Sun Valley Blvd or building a new alignment up to and along 1st St to Cornhusker Hwy and proceeding east to the modern facility, but lack of funds (at least $18.2 million to build the cheapest option) has so far stymied actual construction.
10th St "interchange."
Junction with Cornhusker Hwy and signage for I-180 and US 34.
The Cornhusker Highway was an original 1924 "named" highway in Nebraska running from Wymore to Sioux City via Lincoln and Lyons. This roughly corresponds to modern US 77, though US 6 was co-routed with it in Lincoln, and solely retained those alignments when US 77 was moved to I-80. Its earliest alignment in Lincoln seems to have been lost to time and the earliest map I can obtain showing it (around 1945) calls this alignment the "New Cornhusker Hwy." The modern Cornhusker Hwy designation presently includes portions of US 6 that were never part of the original routing, and the name is all but obsolete outside of the region. Old US 77 approaches us on Cornhusker Hwy from the left.
14th St "interchange."
20th St.
27th St.
48th St.
Unsigned junction for the 2.67 mile NE 55X LINK (LINK L-55X [NHRPLB]), shown here as "TO US 77."
L-55X is the former alignment of US 77, and connects to it at the I-80 interchange where US 77 continues north to Fremont. Old US 77 and the historical Cornhusker Hwy designation leave with it, but the modern Cornhusker Hwy continues with US 6.
EB US 6/ALT EB I-80.
As we leave Lincoln city limits, a small road merges with us. This is the stub of Cotner Blvd and the northern end of old CITY US 6.
Mile 322.
Advance signage for the Interstate 80 interchange.
Junction I-80.
There are several interesting features on this gantry. First, US 6 is shown as the continuation of the Cornhusker Hwy and will remain so until the county line despite this portion never having been part of it originally. Second, both US 6 and I-80 have Omaha as control cities, but US 6's sits in a non-standard orange tab. Finally, the west onramp is posted at a 1/3 mile distance, a fraction not frequently seen on overhead signage.
Just after the interchange, we enter Waverly.
Waverly was originally a railroad town and first platted in 1870 when the train arrived, named for Sir Walter Scott's 1814 novel Waverley (note spelling). One of the first historical novels in the Western tradition, the book is probably longer than our stay in the town, and some of the street names in Waverly derive from it. The modern village was incorporated in 1885 and has 3,838 residents [2018].
Crossing under the Canongate Rd bridge, with the railroad to our left.
The local grain silos.
Distance signage leaving town.
Cass county line. This is the end of the modern Cornhusker Hwy.
Cass County, Nebraska

Cass county is named for General Lewis Cass, a controversial figure even for his era. A Michigan U.S. senator, two-time Cabinet secretary and the 1848 Democratic nominee for president, Cass' most prominent and probably notorious legacy was his promulgation of the Doctrine of Popular Sovereignity, which held that the whites in each territory (and only them) should decide whether to permit slavery. Although notionally congruent with a generalized view of states' rights, his advocacy of the divisive policy alienated the anti-slavery wing of his party and enabled Whig nominee Zachary Taylor to win the election. The county was established in 1855; the selection of the name likely reflected the slave-state and later Confederate sympathies of the region at the time and was never altered. With its county seat in Plattsmouth the modern county has 26,159 residents [2018], though we will see almost none of it.

Entering Greenwood.
Greenwood was also a railroad town, platted in 1869 by the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad on their way west and named for local settler Silas Greenwood. The modern village has 586 residents [2017].
Hello, silo.
Distance signage leaving town.
Advance signage for NE 63, slightly confusing because of the "TO I-80" above it implying some sort of link road, though this is legitimately its northern terminus.
N-63 is a small connector route running from US 34 in Alvo to US 6 for a distance of just under 14 miles.
The signage is a bit clearer at the junction itself, which also serves here as the Saunders county line, then unsigned.
Saunders County, Nebraska

Another county we will see very little of, Saunders county was originally established as Calhoun county in 1856. Like Cass county, the choice of name (for Democratic politician and 7th vice president John C. Calhoun) probably represented the pro-slavery sympathies of the region at the time. Indeed, Calhoun was remarkable even then for his strong defense of slavery as a means to prevent Southern cessation; despite his party affiliation he was known as a nearly true independent until his death in 1850, aligning as needed with parties to promote his views. Along with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay he nevertheless exerted outsized influence on American political thought and with them was considered one of the "Immortal Trio" of Congressional leaders. During the Civil War, however, the name became obviously ill-chosen and was changed in 1862 after Nebraska territorial governor Alvin Saunders. Its county seat is Wahoo, a joy to say and visit, and the 21,303 residents [2018] probably agree, but US 6 barely enters its southeastern tip before exiting.

Advance signage for NE 66 (a whole lotta sixes).
Entering Ashland at Mile 338.
Ashland was named after the estate of Henry Clay (see Part 20) and established in 1870, but the location substantially predates it, being used as a ford by settlers over the difficult Salt Creek as early as the 1840s. (Salt Creek is a tributary of the Platte River, which we will reach soon, itself a tributary of the Missouri and thence to the great Mississippi. Local sandstone gives it its salinity.) Thus was the Oxbow Trail, an alternate routing of the Oregon Trail, which ran from Nebraska City on the Missouri to Fort Kearny on the Platte. The modern city today acts as a bedroom community for both Lincoln and Omaha owing to its proximity to I-80. It has 2,570 residents [2017].
The most evil junction in Nebraska, though we'll see another 6-66 junction in Chicago and later in Connecticut.
Through town.
California Trail auto tour signage.
Despite the name, this is really indicating the Oxbow; the Oregon (and Oxbow), California and Mormon Trails all followed the Platte River until around South Pass, WY, when the Mormon Trail split south to Salt Lake. The California Trail split in what is now Fort Hall, ID through Nevada to the gold fields and Sutter's mill (see CA 153), while the Oregon Trail continued to Portland, OR (see US Highway 395 Part 23).
Leaving town.
EB US 6.
The mighty Platte River and (unsigned) Sarpy county line.
Sarpy County, Nebraska

Yet another county we'll see only briefly, what would later become Sarpy county was first explored by Lewis and Clark (US Highway 395 Part 24) in 1805. Its proximity to the Platte River made it well known to traders and adventurers, and later settlers and farmers. One of the early fur traders was one Colonel Peter Sarpy, a French-American entrepreneur well known for his trading posts and his bustling business near what would become Bellevue, Sarpy county's largest city, which he later helped lay out. When the county was organized out of next-door Douglas county in 1857, Sarpy's name was applied in honour of his local service; he died in Plattsmouth in 1865. The modern county has its seat at Papillion and has 184,459 residents [2018], though again we'll pass through it very quickly.

Looking over the Platte River.
The Platte River drains significant portions of the Nebraska Great Plains as well as the eastern Rockies. Roughly 310 miles in length, it is a major tributary of the Missouri, and thence to the Mississippi. Nebraska's name is actually that of the River, so called by Otoe Indians ("flat water") as transliterated by French trappers ("Nebraskier"); the French themselves named it "riviere plate" for "flat river" yielding the modern name. The river is indeed quite flat; the muddy broad shallows here are typical of the braided stream it carries which was both a relief to wagon trains trying to ford it and a source of frustration to trappers trying to canoe it. "A mile wide and an inch deep," as emigrants referred to it, as such it has never been a major navigation route in antiquity or the present. Formed by the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers near North Platte, NE, it has a maximum discharge of 160,000 cubic feet with its mouth very near here at (where else?) Plattsmouth.
The Linoma Beach Lighthouse, a local landmark on US 6 and the river.
Built in 1939, this 100' lighthouse was built to complement an artificial lake ("Linoma Beach") built from an old quarry site near the river's edge that closed in 1915. The old sandpits were filled and additional sand was trucked in to create a 600' shoreline resort site, complete with bathhouse and restaurant, which was serviced by the local railroad and highway. Although popular when it first opened in 1924, the lighthouse was subsequently added to entice motorists as railroad passenger volumes diminished; as the Platte is flat it was never actually used for navigation. However, the park gradually declined and the lighthouse as shown here in 2006 was in a rather poor state of repair for many years. Eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, a group of local investors purchased the property in 2010 at foreclosure and refurbished and reopened the resort in 2011.
Junction NE 31 just outside Gretna. US 6 turns left with it for a decently long co-routing into Omaha.

US 6/NE 31

N-31 runs from N-50 north of Gretna (which we will also enter) through Omaha to US 30 in the south for a total of 36 miles.

NB NE 31/US 6.
Entering Gretna.
Gretna exists more or less as the successor of former Forest City, a local trading post extant since at least 1856. About two miles and change south of the modern town, it was bypassed by the Burlington Railroad which chose to build north, and a new town was platted in 1887 and incorporated in 1889. The name most likely hails from Scotland's Gretna Green, the famous first village in Scotland and the country of many of this region's early settlers; however, this Gretna strictly follows state law with respect to marriage officiants. The modern city has 5,076 residents [2018].
Schramm Rd; most of the commercial district is to the left.
Old US 6 probably went up Schramm to S 216th and then over on Angus back to the modern alignment. Credence for this is a dangling stub (now inhabited by a Jimmy John's) turned into a small parallel frontage going due north between Schramm and Sandstone Ln south of it. However, I don't have any map evidence for this supposition and I did not travel it at the time.
Junction NE 370 at the north end of town.
N-370, generally titled the Strategic Air Command Memorial Hwy, links US 6 to US 75 to the east. It is entirely expressway and/or controlled access and serves Papillion, south Omaha and Offutt Air Force Base, the headquarters of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).
Distance signage leaving Gretna.
Douglas county line.
Douglas County, Nebraska

Our final county in Nebraska, Douglas county was named for Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas, who, like Lewis Cass, was another prominent advocate for popular sovereignity although he personally detested slavery himself. A forceful political figure and a fearsome debate opponent despite his short stature, he was nicknamed the "Little Giant" throughout his career. Famously defeated by Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election, during the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debate he advanced his Freeport Doctrine as a means of sidestepping the Dred Scott decision by asserting states could legally prevent slavery by refusing to legislatively facilitate it. This view was popular in Illinois and enabled his reelection to the Senate over Lincoln, but alienated southern Democrats, split the party, and enabled Abraham Lincoln to become president. He passed away in 1861 as secession loomed. Douglas' complicated relationship with American slavery again was representative of this region at the time the county was formed in 1854, thus his name. Over a fourth of Nebraska's residents live here, most of them in the county seat of Omaha, with a present population of 566,880 [2018].

At the county line, US 6/NE 31 becomes S 204th St. The old routing of US 38 went east from 204th along probably Q St to Millard Avenue, up S 132nd to W Center Rd, entered Omaha as Center St, and then went up S 36th and across on Harney to end at US 75 on 24th. By 1931 it had moved north from Harney to Farnam, but still terminated at US 75. It is unknown if US 6 was ever routed on that alignment, however; I'll get to that in a moment.

Advance signage for the US 275/NE 92 junction.
US 275/NE 92 interchange.
US 275 is a spur of US 75 as the number would suggest, and was first created in 1932 between Council Bluffs, IA and St. Joseph, MO. It was extended to O'Neill, NE in 1939 but truncated to US 136 in Rock Port, MO in 1963. Formerly co-routed with US 6 until 1941, it later moved to this southern alignment which is now an expressway. Although north-south in Missouri and Iowa, in Nebraska it is signed east-west. US 275 is paired with N-92 all the way from its entry in the state in Omaha to west of US 6, where the highways split after crossing the Elkhorn River (another tributary of the Platte), and IA 92 remains its continuation on the other side of the Missouri. Its terminus in O'Neill is at US 281 after a useless multiplex with US 20, but US 275 still intersects its parent in Omaha to this day; the modern highway is 266 miles long.
Distance signage leaving the junction.
Entering Elkhorn.
Elkhorn is named for the Elkhorn River which runs west of US 6, as mentioned a tributary of the Platte flowing 290 miles to its mouth just southwest of Omaha itself. The name appears to be a calque for ta-ha-zouka, or "elk's horn," which was likely an Omaha Indian term for the water body and first appears in a treaty with the Spaniards in 1796. Founded in 1856 but not platted until 1867 when the Union Pacific arrived, the 2006 picture here was probably one of the last of Elkhorn as an independent entity. In 2005 the City of Omaha annexed it, provoking a court battle as Elkhorn tried to annex several surrounding neighbourhoods itself to gain additional population and prevent the process from being imposed on it. Elkhorn was unsuccessful and the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled against them in 2007; after the United States Supreme Court denied cert, the city ceased to exist on March 1 of that year. In 2000 it had a population of 6,062.
Leaving NE 31 into Elkhorn as we upgrade to freeway.
NE 28B LINK (LINK L-28B [NHRPLB]) continues the controlled access alignment, a relatively unusual example of a freeway link road in the Nebraska highway system, intersecting US 275 just to the west. A very early alignment of the Lincoln Hwy (unimaginatively called the Old Lincoln Hwy) in Elkhorn proceeds east to the now upgraded Dodge Rd alignment; this was part of former US 30 and then US 30S when it moved north in 1931. (US 30S later became ALT US 30 and was decommissioned in 1969.) We'll have much more to say about the Lincoln Hwy when we actually intersect its modern incarnation in Illinois. For now, we turn onto the onramp.

US 6 (Dodge Rd Fwy/Dodge St)

Dodge Street in Omaha, named for expansionist Iowa Senator Augustus C. Dodge, is one of the city's major plumb lines and the divider between north and south street addresses. It was the original routing of the Lincoln Hwy, later became part of US 30S in 1931 and subsequently ALT US 30, and is now US 6. (It is even likely that it became US 6 as well when US 30 moved.) It runs from the downtown to around 72nd St where it upgrades to expressway and becomes Dodge Rd. During its history it has varied from a steep narrow street to full freeway (today) between Interstate 680 and US 275. The freeway portion of Dodge Rd was built between 2003 and 2006, so these images are some of the earliest taken after it was open and thus construction works and incomplete signage are visible in some shots.

Merging onto the freeway.
168th St exit. At the time this was the city limit of Omaha.
Mile 360.0 (with a little US 6 shield) on standard MUTCD mileposts.
Dodge Rd signage.
Mile 362.4.
At this point I was having real difficulty maintaining good images with the twilight, so I drove into town to the hotel and drove back out in the morning.
Approaching the I-680 interchange.
End freeway at I-680, with signage for I-80 on the south side of town, as we enter central Omaha.
A rather arresting traffic light gantry as we swing a block south at 90th and the terminus of NE 133.
N-133 is a significant local arterial through northern Omaha to US 30 just south of Blair.
EB US 6.
Passing the University of Nebraska at Omaha, founded in 1908 as Omaha University, and became part of the University of Nebraska system in 1968. However, University of Nebraska-Lincoln is the state flagship and officially the home of the Cornhuskers.
Central Omaha into the downtown.
The Mutual of Omaha building.
Mutual of Omaha was founded in 1909 by Dr. C. C. Criss as the Mutual Benefit Health and Accident Association. The company rapidly expanded into life and group insurance and adopted the modern shorter name and the Indian head logo in 1950. In 1963 the company premiered Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, a wildlife program in which zoologist host Marlin Perkins endangered his associate Jim Fowler with random wild animal encounters while resting comfortably in his studio. Broadcast by NBC from 1963 to 1971 and then syndicated until 1988, Perkins left the show for health reasons in 1985 to the great relief of the underwriters of Fowler's life policy. Reruns were popular enough to inspire a new run on Animal Planet from 2002 to 2011 and later a series of webisodes. Perkins died of cancer at the age of 81 in 1986; Fowler died after being eaten a heart attack in 2019 at 89. The modern corporation is 366th on the Fortune 500 with total assets of almost US$44 billion.
32nd Ave.
Just before 30th St US 6 splits into an east-west couplet. We swing a block south to Douglas St, leaving WB US 6 on Dodge.
Crossing I-480 and US 75 below us, though there is no access to them here. At 24th St, the old alignment of US 75, US 38 terminated and was the original east end of the Omaha-Lincoln-Denver Highway (the western end was in Part 14); we now continue on what was old US 32, and until 1984, US 75.
US 75 was once another mighty border-to-border arterial from Noyes, MN to Galveston, TX as defined in 1926. Gradually cut down, due to the closure of its port of entry it no longer crosses the Canadian border to its former receiving highway MT 75, and the southern terminus was retracted to Dallas by its replacement Interstate 45 in 1987. US 75 was originally planned to be a freeway all the way through north Omaha but the upgrade was highly controversial and the 1970s I-580 North Omaha Freeway project was beset by community opposition, social unrest and disputed increases in crime rates. It was never finished and the Interstate spur designation eventually lapsed, though a small segment of it is the southern leg of I-480 here; upon the project's abandonment in 1984 US 75 was moved to what was then completed. The modern highway runs 1,239 miles.
The Woodmen Tower, headquarters of the former Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, now WoodmenLife.
Modern Woodmen of America was originally founded by Joseph Cullen Root in 1883 in Lyons, IA, inspired by a sermon of "pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families." Root, for reasons lost to history, likened this to finance, and wanted to start a society to "clear away" financial insecurities for its membership. The group was fractious and Root was actually ejected from his own organisation. He moved to Omaha and established the Modern Woodmen of the World in 1890, dropping the Modern shortly after. A fraternal organisation at its core, one of its early death benefits were tree stump-shaped headstones, abandoned in the 1920s due to their expense. Other fraternal organisations merged with it over the years and the group's core product continues to be its private life insurance fund exclusively for its members, rebranded as WoodmenLife in 2015. In Alexander Payne's 2002 movie About Schmidt, the title character played by Jack Nicholson was a Woodmen actuary.

The Tower was built between 1966 and 1969 and is 478'. It replaced the Nebraska State Capitol as the state's tallest building and remained so until the First National Bank Tower was completed in 2002 at 634'. That tower, cut off because it's not as interesting to me as the Woodmen Tower, can be seen to the left in the same image. The 634' height was chosen deliberately to exceed 801 Grand in Des Moines, IA, at 630'. The Woodmen Tower is partially obscured here by the Westbrook Tower at 213', completed in 1966.

This old sign at 13th Street was probably wrong even at the time; no access to NB US 75 was straight ahead, and it might have been greenout that fell off. The leftmost panel seems to indicate WB I-480 but was clearly covering up something else. Here are some of its companions nearby.
Shortly after, US 6 merges onto Interstate 480 to cross into Iowa for the briefest of co-routings. This is the end of US 6's primary alignment at Mile 372.88.

I-480/US 6

Crossing the great Missouri River into Iowa.
The longest river in North America and probably the most significant of the Mississippi River's tributaries, the Missouri drains a watershed of over 500,000 square miles, ten U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. At 2,341 miles it is longer than the river it serves and its maximum discharge of 750,000 cubic feet per second is comparable in size. It terminates in St. Louis, MO, after its long trek from headwaters in Montana and Wyoming; historically important to Native Americans on its shores and one of the main routes for westward settlers, the modern river today is a major source of irrigation and hydroelectric power.

The 1966 I-480 bridge replaced US 6's original truss crossing, the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge. Built by the Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company in 1888 as the Douglas Street Bridge for street cars, a second span was constructed due to demand. The tolls were resented especially by Lincoln Highway traffic, which used the bridge from 1913 to 1930, and a local philanthropic group (the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, or Nebraska spelled backwards) bought out the bridge in 1938 and eliminated the tolls in 1947. The bridge was also part of US 30S and later ALT US 30 as well.

After I-480 was built, there were plans to salvage the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge as a pedestrian walkway but these failed due to the expense of retrofitting it; it was closed in 1966 and demolished in 1968.

End I-480 at the Iowa state line and Interstate 29 at Mile 373.00 (US 6)/Mile 4.23 (I-480).
Continue to Part 22
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