By Joe Duggan / World-Herald staff writer

BARNESTON, Neb. — The students stepped along a forgotten rail bed in southeast Nebraska and tried to imagine 500 people on a journey of sadness more than a century ago.

They came to this strip of soil and granite along the Big Blue River to seek out an unmarked path walked by members of the Ponca Tribe in 1877. In that long-ago summer, a community of first Nebraskans was forced to leave home for Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

“For me, it puts a place with the history,” said Frank Wolff, a senior history major at Peru State College.

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