The Mystique of our “Destination”

While the picturesque view of our 9 acres of grapevines (planted in 2002) and the ambiance of a beautifully changing landscape create a destination site on their own, SchillingBridge Winery & Microbrewery also features two unique draws on the property. The first is an 1890 circa Limestone Rock Island Railroad Bridge that links Pawnee City to her past railroad years. The second historical feature is an archeological site where, in 1906, the University of Nebraska’s State Museum excavated two Asian elephants, Venus and Hamburg, which are currently on display at Morrill Hall Museum.

Rock Island RedIn 1904, the Campbell Brothers circus came to Pawnee City via the Rock Island Railroad. Nadge, the elephant keeper, had gone to feed the animals while carrying a torch and stumbled as he entered the railcar. The hay on the floor of the railcar erupted into flames. Eight animals met their demise in the fire: three elephants, two sacred cows, a bear, a camel, and a zebra. All of these animals were buried on our vineyard property.

In 1906, the University of Nebraska excavated the two Asian elephants, Venus and baby Hamburg, because they didn't have that species in their collection. After killing two of her handlers, Venus had become known as a "man-killer," but she was reported to be very loving to baby Hamburg.

In 1946, Morrill Hall added Venus and Hamburg to the display in “Elephant Hall” on the UNL campus where these two elephants can still be seen today.

SchillingBridge Winery & Microbrewery honors these historic events in the naming of several of our non-varietal wines. Rock Island Red, Sweet Santa Fe, and Right O’ Way Red were named for the historic railroad that ran through the area.

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