NELIGH -  Celebrating the past, with an eye on the future.

The City of Neligh is celebrating its sesquicentennial. Among the myriad festivities over the six-day affair was an open house at the Antelope County Museum, a chance for Neligh's current residents to learn more about its past.

"It's been a lot of work, but I really like this," said museum executive director Donna Hanson. "That's what we're hoping for. The more people we can get, the more we get the museum out there. It's a good thing."

The exhibits offer a detailed history of the Antelope County Seat and its prominent residents, like John Hatfield, a hero of the Civil War, A.J. Leach, one of the first to chronicle the county's history, and White Buffalo Girl, an 18-month-old who died on the Trail of Tears and is buried in Neligh.

It's a glimpse into a past that today's residents could only imagine.

"We can show people what it was like back in the day," Hanson said. "I remember helping my parents with the haying and stuff. Now you have all the expensive equipment. We had to do it the hard way."

You can't talk history in Antelope County without talking with the Historical Society Board and its chair, Boyd Pederson, whose encyclopedic knowledge of Neligh's history was invaluable in preparing for this year's event.

"John Neligh was at a meeting in West Point where he was originally from, and he needed to get to Norfolk," Pederson recalled. "He and a couple of his partners decided to work west along the riverbed. They came to Neligh and saw a natural bottleneck. He decided he would like to buy it. Of the original 520 acres, he bought it for six dollars an acre!"

It's the kind of celebration that happens only once every 150 years, and it contains lessons that Hanson says could help keep Nebraska towns thriving into the future.

"So many Nebraska small towns are dwindling," Hanson said. "They're getting smaller and smaller because the younger generation's moving to bigger cities. The more you can get people interested in what's going on in the town, I think you're going to be better off so you can bring the younger generation back."

You can find a full list of Neligh 150 events by clicking HERE.