LINCOLN — Nebraska’s current tourism guide features a beautiful photograph of a Christmas tree at “Union Station.”
Trouble is, it’s the wrong Union Station.
In what was described as a production error, a yuletide picture of Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, was used in the official, 2018 edition of Nebraska’s State Travel Guide instead of a photo of Union Station in Omaha.
“They look very similar. So it’s pretty easy to mix them up, especially when there’s a big Christmas tree in the photo,” said Erin Lenz, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Tourism Commission.
A Kansas City-based professional photographer, Roy Inman, noticed the error recently, tipped off by the colorful ornate ceiling of the KC train station. That prompted a story in the Kansas City Star.
“Proofing … it’s not for everyone,” was the tongue-in-cheek response on Facebook by the Durham Museum, which occupies Omaha’s Union Station.
That’s a reference to Nebraska’s new tourism tagline — “Honestly, it’s not for everyone” — that went viral earlier this year. It created millions of dollars worth of free publicity for a state that is often an also-ran on tourists’ must-see lists.
The guide, for the first time in 2018, was produced by a Superior, Colorado-based marketing firm, Miles Marketing Destinations. Lenz said the travel guide uses photos provided by the Tourism Commission as well as photographs chosen by the production firm from other sources.
Before it goes to press, it is proofread by staff at the Nebraska tourism office, she said, and no one caught the error. About 200,000 were printed. The Travel Guide costs $94,000 to produce and $84,000 to distribute.
The error actually was noticed months earlier by Durham Museum staff after the 2018 Travel Guide came out, but they didn’t make a big deal out of it. Jessica Brummer, communications director for the Museum, said the Tourism Commission was notified, but it was too late for a correction.
“I just chuckled — everyone makes mistakes,” Brummer said. “And they’re a great partner of ours.”
She added, “If anything, it got us some free press in Kansas City to come see our Christmas decorations.”
Lenz said that both Union Stations have “similar looks and feels,” but Inman told the Star that the difference in the ceilings of the two Union Stations is unmistakable.
Omaha’s Union Station, opened in 1931, has a 60-foot-high ceiling. Kansas City’s Union Station, opened in 1914, has a 95-foot-high ceiling and is now home to several offices and cafes, as well as Science City, a science and technology center.
This isn’t the first case of mistaken identity by a state agency — in 2014, production was halted on a new Nebraska license plate after it was discovered that the version of the Sower on the plate was based on an image from Michigan, and not from the statue atop the Nebraska State Capitol.
The Union Station gaffe won’t be around for long — the 2019 Nebraska Travel Guide is scheduled to hit the streets around the end of the year.
“In next year’s travel guide, you will not have a Kansas City picture,” Lenz said.