Nebraska : Safety by City
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Wilber might not sound like a Czech name, but the town is still the Czech Capital of the World.
It was Charles Wilber who helped get the railroad to town as pioneer adventures out West.
It was that industry that brought immigrants to Wilber, and up to 90% of them were Czech.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Willa Cather wrote about Wilber in the early 1900s, “In Nebraska, our Czech settlements were large and very prosperous.
I have walked about the streets of Wilber, the county seat of Saline County, for a whole day without hearing a word of English spoken.
In Wilber, in the old days, behind the big, friendly brick saloon—it was not a “saloon,” properly speaking, but a beer garden, where the farmers ate their lunch when they came to town—there was a pleasant little theater where the boys and girls were trained to give the masterpieces of Czech drama in the Czech language.”
As time wore on, Wilber adapted to the American way of life but preserved the Czech heritage that still reigns today.
Yet, somehow Wilber still feels like a town frozen in time—where hope reigns, harvests are rich, and pastries are better than anywhere this side of Prague (and the other side of Prague, too).
This small Nebraska town of fewer than 2,000 people thrives on the Czech Festival that happens every summer, but festivities happen throughout the year.
As a journalist, I have clients all over the world, and I love sharing stories of Wilber with my Prague friends.
They teach me phrases to use when I go visit from Lincoln.
You have that going for you, too, in Wilber—Lincoln is 45 minutes away, and Omaha is 90 minutes along easy roads and highways.
Warnings & Dangers in Wilber
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk here. Crime rates in Saline County are 75% lower than the national average, and it's a small but proud community.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You'll need a car here as no public transportation is available, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a taxi or rideshare. Rental cars are available at the airport in Lincoln or Omaha.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk on average but could spike during Czech Fest if there's a crime of opportunity. Carry only the bare minimum and keep your purse secured, such as a crossbody design.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
This is a medium risk because severe weather can happen any time of year, and winter can be a doozy. It's really hit or miss, but when severe weather threatens, you should take it seriously. Drought and extreme temperatures are possible, too, with flash flooding potential during heavy rain.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, with only a handful reported since 2000. Not all cities in Nebraska are this safe, so don't let it give you a false sense of safety. That's why we have such a robust number of cities to review.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
It might sound scary to tell you there's a nuclear missile silo just down the road, but that's quite common across Nebraska. In fact, instead of thinking of it as a target, it should be considered extra security as they are manned with military members 24/7. There's no reason to worry about terrorism here.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
Scams are mostly targeted at the 2,000 residents of the town, playing on their honest, trustworthy nature. When booking for Czech Fest, use the official sites and Chamber of Commerce instead of looking for deals on Craigslist for the safest transactions.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's no reason for a woman to feel uncomfortable here. It has a wonderful small-town charm with the larger city of Lincoln nearby, with plenty of shopping and nightlife.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The water here is tested regularly, and there are no violations to report. If there are issues, like a water main break, it would be posted on social media sites.
Safest Places to Visit in Wilber
Visit Nebraska is the tourism website for the state, and Wilber is in the southeast section.
This website is a great starting point, so you can explore other options nearby.
To focus on just this city, you’ll look for the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber online, and it’s a simple blue, black, and white website.
Don’t let the fact that it’s not very fancy deter you.
All the good information is there.
Wilber Chamber of Commerce has a website too.
The Czech Festival is held each August, but the pride runs throughout the year.
Hotel Wilber is open to guests, but it’s a place with shared bathrooms in case that impacts your decision.
Guests are welcome to come to have breakfast or lunch, even if they aren’t staying at the hotel.
The Wilber Czech Museum is open year-round with free admission and hundreds of artifacts about the pioneers and immigrants who settled on this land.
There are three stories to explore, with each room telling a different story.
Wilber once hosted a craft fair, as many other Midwestern communities did annually, but it begged something more here.
Now the Wilber Czech Craft Shop is open from April through December each year, with unique items for sale that change throughout the year.
If you’re up for some more international fanfare in southeast Nebraska, head 45 minutes to Wymore.
That’s where you’ll find the Welsh-American Heritage Center celebrating the immigrants who made their way from Wales in the early 19th century.
About an hour in the other direction, you can visit the Trinity Lutheran Church, which is the only landmark left from the Germans who settled here in the 1800s.
The community was called Friedensau, which is also the nickname for the church now.
Several public prairie lands owned or operated by the Wachiska Audubon Society are nearby, including the Kasl Prairie.
Visitors are welcome, and if you call in advance, you might get a private tour from the landowner.
That number is (402) 821-2619, and you should ask for Richard.
Check out our article about Lincoln to see a bunch of options just 45 minutes away.
Places to Avoid in Wilber
Wilber is a very small town, and there’s not a part of town too dangerous to visit, nor could you avoid it if there was.
You do want to avoid making the trip if there’s a winter storm bearing down.
Most of the roads are two-lane highways, and the major interstates will get plowed first.
There is a lot of open space around Wilber, but most of it is private property for farms.
Don’t enter a field or road unless you know it’s a public road, and follow all street signs to avoid trespassing.
Don’t try to find the nuclear missile silo.
If you do, don’t go anywhere near it, or you’ll be greeted by very unhappy military personnel.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Wilber
- Wilber doesn’t have its own police department but is covered by the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, which is headquartered there. If you need emergency help on a state highway, that would defer to the Nebraska State Patrol. Calling 911 will get you routed to the right place.
- If you have information about a crime committed in Saline County, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-345-3361. You can remain anonymous.
- Sign up for AlertSense emergency notifications to stay on top of weather, road conditions, and safety issues in the county.
- If someone around you appears to be poisoned or overdosing, you should call 911 but also call the Nebraska Poison Control Center if you aren’t sure whether it’s a life-threatening emergency. That number is 1-800-222-1222. We are very candid about drug crimes here because the opioid epidemic is claiming too many lives, and you never know when you’ll be in a position to help someone.
- Use the 511 Nebraska app to keep an eye on all of Nebraska’s roads. The app is robust, with hundreds of live cameras, color-coded road condition maps, and construction zones/traffic accidents marked in real-time.
- The Nebraska Outdoors app is literally the gateway to everything you need to know about enjoying state parks and activities. You can purchase a fishing license, reserve a campground, or download trail maps.
- If you’re not familiar with Red Flag Warnings, these are alerts that come out when high winds, dry conditions, and high fire danger is in place. It does not mean a fire will start, but that a fire could quickly get out of control if it did.
- Visiting one of the Audubon Prairie Lands might sound boring to some, but we encourage reading the website for these special lands to learn about the unique plants and animals that call this place home. They don’t call them the Great Plains for nothing.
- You don’t need to speak Czech to visit here, but it will help to know a few phrases that are prominent throughout town on signs and benches. Viatame Vas means “We welcome you,” and Jak se mas means “How are you?”
- If you’re visiting for Czech Fest and can’t find a hotel room, you can look in Crete and Seward, both north of town. Of course, there’s Lincoln nearby, with plenty of hotel rooms for everyone.
So... How Safe Is Wilber Really?
Wilber had a connection to a high-profile 2017 true-crime story that made global headlines.
It involved a woman who met someone on a dating app and ended up being brutally assaulted, tortured, and killed.
The trials of the two suspects became just as sensational.
That’s about where crime in Wilber peaked.
This is a safe town in a remote county, with the biggest concern being drug crimes and drug use.
The few crimes that do happen here are among people who know each other.
You’d have to really go looking for trouble here to find it, but there’s trouble out there.
During Czech Fest, you want to use all the standard safety precautions to protect your car, purse, and wallet.
There are large crowds with a lot of distractions.
Overall, Wilber is a friendly town where people will wave hello even if you’ve never met.
The true essence of immigration in America is alive and well here, so don’t dismiss this small town.
It’s worth a day trip, at least.
How Does Wilber Compare?
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You'll need a visa or visa waiver to enter the country, and where you're from depends on which one you can get. The U.S. State Department details all this on its website. You'll also need a passport that isn't within six months of expiring.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, even during Czech Fest. Exchange currency in a bigger city like Lincoln, or take care of that at home to get the lowest fees.
The weather in spring and fall can range from freezing to sweating, so bring some layers of clothing to adapt comfortably. Bug spray is needed from spring through fall, and you'll want some sunscreen. As a Nebraskan who walked her dog on an April day today and ended up with a slight sunburn, I can attest to the power of the sun here. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
The Lincoln airport is closest, but I'd recommend driving the 90 minutes to Omaha to get more flight options with direct flights to major cities.
We recommend comprehensive travel insurance for a place with so much weather that can impact roads, flight paths, and business schedules.
Wilber Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Nebraska - Safety by City
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