Strolling along the boardwalk past the millinery or walking the path from the Milisen’s main house to its summer kitchen, noses will pick up on it before arrival. A distinct scent emanates from the blacksmith shop, a steady column of smoke rising from its red brick chimney.
Railroad man Ken Scholl hears something like this little girl’s exclamation on a regular basis. Scholl manages, engineers, and conducts the Stolley Park Railroad in Grand Island with help from other volunteers, and also bears a remarkable resemblance to the conductor in the well-loved book and film The Polar Express.
A Grand Island native, painter Doug Johnson creates beautiful landscapes out of simple geometric forms.
Renowned architect Edward Durell Stone landed on a TWA flight at the Grand Island airport during a raging snowstorm. Leo Stuhr, a prominent local farmer and former state senator, had recently donated family land for a Hall County museum — although land closer to Interstate 80 was eventually decided on in its place.
Ash Gordon arrives at a nondescript warehouse next to the Central Nebraska Regional Airport around 5am. Inside the aging metal building, Gordon cultivates more than twenty varieties of mushrooms.
A tailgating hobby revealed a talent, and that talent was labeled the world’s best in 2015. Captain Todd Morgan has fought fires for the Grand Island Fire Department since 1988. He has been a college football fan tailgating at Nebraska Cornhusker football games since 2001. After years of perfecting a wing sauce for his tailgating hobby, friends and family encouraged him to brand and sell his talent.
More and more people are stopping by Fred’s Flying Circus — so dubbed by his friend who crafted a sign with the saying — to admire his handiwork. The sculptures fill the lot where that grocery once stood in between the railroad tracks and his shop. Snoopy, Shrek and a gaggle of funny cars up on poles will soon be joined by Smurfette handing Tweety Bird a bouquet of flowers.
Grand Island native Brant Van Boening bought SILO Skateboards and Footwear when he was 14 years old. He’s skated since he was eight and always had an interest in the marketplace. He dreamt up brands and played store in his parent’s basement as a kid. When Brant was 14, the owner of the local skateboard shop was closing it to spend more time with his family. With his parent’s support, Brant bought the store in 1993.
Not long after arriving in sunny southern California on a basketball scholarship, restaurateur Brent Lindner dropped out of college to ride the waves at Laguna Beach. He’d made friends who surfed and worked in the restaurant industry, and life on the beach wooed him out of the classroom. Brent found work at the Red Onion up in Newport Beach — where actors and musicians were regular customers — to support his surfing hobby. His employer took to him well enough to offer a position overseas, and he went to Australia to help start new restaurants and bars down under.
Megan Yutesler grew up in Cairo, Nebraska, went to college in Omaha, moved to North Carolina on a whim and ended up apprenticing to be a chef there. After weathering a couple of hurricanes, she and her husband decided when they started a family they would move back to Nebraska, which they did.
Grand Island resident Tammy Schuett holds an MFA in studio painting. She’s married with two grown children, and can often be found in her basement studio at 1am passionately adding paint to a new canvas.
Railside continues to rock. The Hear Grand Island concert series returns in 2017.
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer recently completed a $7 million dollar restoration of the Edward Durell Stone building that anchors their property.
The people of Grand Island represent the true make up the community. Meet some of the characters of the city in these interviews.