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Detour Nebraska book cover

"Detour Nebraska: Historic Destinations & Natural Wonders" by Gretchen Garrison, Arcadia Publishing, 176 pages, $21.99 paperback

Gretchen Garrison has been documenting her travels through her home state since 2013 on her blog, Odyssey Through Nebraska. Her new book, "Detour Nebraska: Historic Destinations & Natural Wonders," is the compendium of four years of travel, observation and research.

More than just a travel guide, "Detour Nebraska" is a broadly inclusive and thoughtful narrative about the notable geographical and historical destinations in Nebraska.

From the Metro region to the Panhandle, Garrison is an impartial chronicler of Nebraska’s natural landscapes, historical landmarks and modern attractions. Her mission is to highlight “the places and people of Nebraska, both past and present.”

Nebraska contains some of the most spectacular topography in America. The sandhills, forests, wetlands, tall grass prairies, shortgrass prairie, bluffs and river valleys are all featured destinations in "Detour Nebraska." Within this diverse landscape, Garrison traces the histories of Natives, pioneers and early entrepreneurs, giving greater relevance to familiar landmarks, monuments and museums. Her richly detailed narratives include observations on art, literature, food, culture and the people who have contributed to Nebraska’s proud heritage.

Through historical notes and anecdotes, Garrison breathes new life into Nebraska destinations. What might seem like an unremarkable stop on the interstate is given new relevance this book. The 100th Meridian, for example, is “the location where the humid East meets the arid West.” It was at this location where John J. Cozad, traveling west on the Union Pacific Railroad, established the new town that would eventually be the home town of artist Robert Henri. The 100th Meridian Museum is the place to visit to learn more about Cozad’s story. And this is just one of more than a 100 destinations featured.

Garrison has synthesized the history and landscape of Nebraska into this well-considered account of our state’s natural and historical attractions. "Detour Nebraska" is worthwhile reading for the armchair traveler and an essential companion for the Nebraska tourist.

Erin Willis is curator of the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Library.

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