Gering a top place to live

File Photo Before it was named Scotts Bluff National Monument, the bluff was a prominent feature and landmark for many during America’s westward expansion in the mid-1800s. The area is again being featured among the Top Western Towns in the current issue of True West Magazine.

For the past 68 years, True West Magazine has been telling the stories of our Western heritage. For 2020, they’ve named the Scottsbluff/Gering area as one of its Top Western Towns.

The area will be featured in the February-March issue of True West, hitting the newsstands on Feb. 18.

“I submitted an application last year because we have a lot of western heritage and history in our area,” said Brenda Leisy, director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau. “The magazine’s executive editor said we’re one of those hidden gems in the west, but we want to be more than that. We want people to visit and experience this part of Nebraska.”

In her application, Leisy pointed out the early fur traders and emigrants along the Oregon, Mormon and California trails, who used the 800-foot high bluffs above the North Platte River as a landmark on their way west. So did the Pony Express riders as they galloped across the Plains.

True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell said, “There’s so much history, so many stories that are told in the places, the events, the attitude of the people who live there. Scottsbluff and Gering, together, is truly a Top Western Town.”

Leisy said being featured in True West puts the area in front of thousands of the magazine’s readers, both in print and online.

“The popularity of the magazine and their online presence keeps growing. Those readers wouldn’t have the opportunity to discover us otherwise,” she said. “If we did this kind of advertising ourselves, it would cost thousands of dollars.”

Leisy said she chose to apply because of all the local events coming up in 2020, which includes the Scotts Bluff National Monument turning 100 and the 99th anniversary of Oregon Trail Days.

“Our heritage history, its landmarks and events, is a big draw for why people visit here,” she said.

Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Visitors Bureau, said it’s a tremendous honor to be featured in the magazine.

“True West is a phenomenal publication and we’re in good company with communities across the region of the country that share a true passion about our Western heritage,” she said. “That heritage plays into everything we do in travel and tourism. Having that designation is great for all of us.”

This is the 15th year that True West Magazine has presented the Top Western Towns award. Selection is based on criteria on how each town has preserved its history through old buildings, museums, and other institutions, events and promotions of historic resources.

“I’m happy we can be among the very top list of communities recognized this year,” Niedan-Streeks said.

The area has been named before to the Top Western Town list by True West Magazine.

The 2020 list also includes Carson City, Nevada; Tombstone, Arizona; Sheridan, Wyoming; Dodge City, Kansas; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Prescott, Arizona; Buffalo, Wyoming and Deadwood, South Dakota. Topping the list was San Angelo, Texas.

Magazine editors said the towns honor the past while celebrating the future. Those places deserve to be visited by everyone who treasures the Old West.

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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