Grenville Dodge is coming to Beatrice! The U.S. Army general who led the troops during the Civil War and the Plains Indian campaigns and later became the chief engineer for the Union Pacific railroad during the construction of the transcontinental railroad, will be in Beatrice in May.
Actually Patrick McGinnis will be in Beatrice portraying the notable General Dodge as a part of the Free Land Chautauqua May 20-25. He will be one of six famous Americans featured in the week-long event presented by the Nebraska Humanities Council in partnership with Homestead National Monument of America.
The Chautauqua coincides with the start of a year of events that Homestead Monument has planned to observe the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act which was signed into legislation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862.
General Dodge settled in Iowa in 1854 and, with the possibility of an eventual transcontinental railroad route, began to scout areas in the Platte River Valley and Rocky Mountains.
Following his military service in the Civil War and in the Great Plains, Dodge led the efforts of the Union Pacific Railroad crews building from Omaha westward to the eventual meeting point with the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Point, Utah.
Repeatedly he proved his engineering abilities by overcoming obstacles and deciding on the ultimate location of bridges, cuts, and fills.
Dodge resigned from Union Pacific in 1869 and settled in Council Bluffs and served as a consultant for other railroad projects. His portrayal at Chautauqua will help to interpret the rapid economic development of the West and the nation through the building of railroads.
This article was compiled and submitted by Bette Anne Thaut,
member of the 2012 Beatrice Chautauqua Committee.