Brownville, Nebraska is an amazing little town south of Omaha on the Missouri River with a population of 142 with four bookstores and seven museums. The town is an inspiration for all small towns worried about their future. At one time it was a thriving river town in the Nebraska Territory with a population of 7000. Lewis and Clark camped there on their way to the Pacific. Later people heading west stopped to load up on supplies before the long haul across the prairie and mountains. The advent of trains changed everything because the train went through Omaha not Brownville.
Wandering Main Street is fascinating. Most everything is located in an eight-block area. Larry Peterson gave gives an informative tour of the town on the horse drawn trolley sharing local legends. For instance the Captain Bailey House is haunted by Captain Bailey’s ghost. Bailey was poisoned by a jealous neighbor. Chat with Merrill Johnson, the broom maker, visit the Wheel Museum and enjoy ice cream at Rivertown Antiques.
The newest museum in town is the Brownville Depot and Railroad History Museum. One of the most amazing places is the Antiquarium, located in the old school and home to at least 50,000 books. The owner, Tom Rudloff, is a dedicated bibliophile who has his own system of categorizing the books but invites people to take the time to browse and “find your own treasure.” Brownville is like taking a step back in time.