History & Culture
History abounds in Western Nebraska through a variety of museums, memorials and iconic landscapes. Retrace the steps of pioneers and engage in tales of the wild west while also taking in the local art and culture.
Two-and-a-half miles north of Alliance on Highway 87, Carhenge is perhaps the strangest attraction in Nebraska. The full-scale replica of England’s famous Stonehenge is built entirely from old cars. Carhenge is built from 38 cars, painted gray.
Fort Robinson State ParkCrawford Area
Fort Robinson State Park is one of Nebraska’s most popular attractions. Visitors can enjoy cookouts, trail rides, hiking, and a summer repertory theater at the Post Playhouse. Fort Robinson is open mid-April through mid-November. A state park permit is required.
Golden Spike TowerNorth Platte Area
In 1995, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard as the world’s largest railroad classification yard. It has since grown by 25 percent. It stretches eight miles and covers nearly 3,000 acres. More than 15,000 cars pass through daily.
Grain Bin Antique TownNorth Platte Area
Clustered on a hill top in the scenic canyons south of North Platte, Grain Bin Antique Town consists of twenty historic grain bins and a massive barn that are connected by a boardwalk to form a huge and eclectic collection of antiques and primitives.
Hudson-Meng Education & Research CenterHarrison Area
Albert Meng and Bill Hudson discovered ancient bones belonging to more than 600 bison. Nearly 50 years later, Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center is open to the public and the 10,000-year-old bones are still being studied. Open mid-May through September.
Legacy of the Plains MuseumGering Area
Located on the Oregon Trail, the Legacy of the Plains Museum features an impressive newly renovated exhibit hall featuring hands-on interactives; collections of pioneer and early community artifacts, antique tractors, and farm implements. All with striking views of ScottsBluff National Monument.
Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage CenterChadron Area
The Mari Sandoz Historical Marker is in a valley of natural lakes 30 miles south of Gordon on Highway 27. Follow the signs from there east to Mari’s Grave on the Sandoz homestead and see the still-producing fruit orchards planted by her father, “Old Jules” Sandoz, long ago.
Museum of the Fur TradeChadron Area
The Museum of the Fur Trade is located at the site of a trading post operated by the American Fur Company from 1837 to 1876. The museum’s three galleries interpret the fur trade from early colonial days to the 20th century. The museum is open May 1 - Oct. 31 or by appointment.
Nebraska National Forest – Bessey Ranger DistrictHalsey Area
This district of the Nebraska National Forest covers more than 90,000 acres, and is the largest hand-planted forest in the world. It is a favorite place for camping, ATV-ing, horseback riding, hiking and picnicking. The lookout tower offers a panoramic view of the surrounding forest and hills.
Our Heritage Guest RanchCrawford Area
Sixteen miles northwest of Crawford and a quick jump from Toadstool Geologic Park is Our Heritage Guest Ranch. Riding lessons are available and there are 26 indoor stalls, and several paddocks and corrals to board horses. The rides take you over 3,600 acres abundant with wildlife.
Riverside Discovery CenterScottsbluff Area
Less than a 4 mile drive from the Scottsbluff National Monument, the Riverside Discovery Center is a fun family friendly Zoo that is open year round. It also has a splash pad that is open in the summer, a dino dig play area and petting zoo. It is AZA accredited and the only Zoo in Western Nebraska.
The Mammoth Site
Just north of the Nebraska border, North America’s most fascinating Ice Age treasures can be found at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Visitors will be treated to a tour of the world’s largest mammoth research facility and experience an active paleontological dig site.
Trailside Museum of Natural HistoryHarrison Area
Featuring the skeletal remains of two large bull mammoths lying as they have since the Ice Age - locked together in mortal combat. Also explore a wide variety of rare Nebraska fossils such as an ancient rhino, giant tortoise, mosasaur skull, standing mammoth, and more.
Agate Fossil Beds National MonumentHarrison Area
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is home to an important collection of Native American artifacts. Visitors can walk among the fossils of ancient animals. Located 22 miles south of Harrison or 34 miles north of Mitchell on Highway 29.
America’s 20th Century Veteran’s MemorialNorth Platte Area
America’s 20th Century Veterans’ Memorial honors all military men and women of the past century. A brick relief sculpture depicts major wars from World War I to the Persian Gulf. Larger-than-life-size bronze statues depict the branches of the armed forces and the ladies of the North Platte Canteen.
Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical ParkValentine Area
Arthur Bowring Ranch State Historical Park is a 7,202-acre ranch. Buildings and grounds are open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. The grounds are open from 9 a.m. to sunset the rest of the year.
Ash Hollow State ParkLewellen Area
Nine miles of scenic hiking views cross Ash Hollow State Park. Hikers can follow in the wagon ruts of early pioneers to the top of Windlass Hill. An interpretive center and a visitor center are open seasonally. A stone schoolhouse, historic cemetery and an ancient cave are some of the attractions.
Avenue of FlagsHemingford Area
Hemingford displays more than 200 American flags along its village streets during various holidays, such as July 4th weekend, Flag Day, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and others. Each historic flag once draped the casket of a veteran from the area.
Banner County MuseumHarrisburg Area
Turning north from Kimball, State Highway 71 will take you past the little village of Harrisburg. The Banner County Museum is an 11-building complex that includes a 19th-century log schoolhouse, sod house, log cabin, 1910 barn, pioneer church and the old Banner County Bank.
Box Butte AvenueAlliance Area
Alliance’s downtown brick-lined main street, Box Butte Avenue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an active Historic Main Street organization. There are numerous shops, restaurants and other businesses in the downtown district.
Buffalo Bill State Historical ParkNorth Platte Area
Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park showcases the restored 1880s Victorian home, horse barn and outbuildings of William F. Cody’s famous Scout’s Rest Ranch. The site features Wild West Show memorabilia, period household furnishings, picnic areas and walking trails.
Carnegie Arts CenterAlliance Area
The Carnegie Arts Center is a gallery featuring local and regional artists. This center hosts renowned art shows such as installations of original Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer prints. Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. Closed holidays.
Chimney RockBayard Area
Visible to wagon trains from several days away, Chimney Rock’s 120-foot spire was unlike anything Oregon Trail pioneers had ever seen. The landmark’s story is told at the Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center at Chimney Rock National Historic Site.
Dobby’s Frontier TownAlliance Area
Dobby’s Frontier Town, is a historic village with buildings from the 1890s through Prohibition. Kenneth “Dobby” Lee lamented the decay of early frontier buildings, so he began hauling them to his Alliance home to save them. The buildings include a general store, log cabin, saloon and more!
Eiker ParkBig Springs Area
The first and largest robbery of a Union Pacific train happened here in Big Springs in 1877. Texas outlaw Sam Bass and five companions made off with $60,000 in gold and currency. A historical marker at Eiker Park, on the west side of town, tells the story of the famous robbery.
Fort Cody Trading PostNorth Platte Area
When viewed from the outside it looks like a frontier log stockade complete with authentically-dressed mannequins with toy rifles standing guard. Inside it’s a combination gift shop and museum, with authentic Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild West memorabilia, and a miniature mechanized Wild West Show.
Fort Sidney MuseumSidney Area
Sidney Barracks was established in 1867 to protect Union Pacific Railroad track layers from attack. In 1869, the post was relocated to the present site at Sidney. At its height, the fort had 40 buildings. It closed in 1894. Three buildings remain on Sidney’s east side.
Knight Museum & Sandhills CenterAlliance Area
Displays at the 19,000-square-foot Knight Museum and Sandhills Center span many aspects of western life, including an extensive display of Native American artifacts, railroad memorabilia, military history, homestead and ranch life, and the various cultures who shaped the area.
Lake McConaughy Visitor & Water Interpretive CenterOgallala Area
The Lake McConaughy Visitor/Water Interpretive Center is on the south side of the lake, nine miles north of Ogallala on Highway 61. Nebraska’s first water museum interprets the significance of water to Nebraska’s past, present and future. The center includes an aquarium and 50-seat theater.
Legion Park & Memorial GardensSidney Area
When a local man suggested erecting a flagpole for the War Memorial in Legion Park and Memorial Gardens, volunteers and local companies converted an interstate light pole into a flag pole. At 140 feet, it is the tallest flagpole in Nebraska.
Lincoln County Historical MuseumNorth Platte Area
The North Platte Canteen is commemorated at the Lincoln County Historical Museum. The World War II canteen met every train and fed the service men and women who passed through the depot – about 6 million in all. The museum also features a village of historic buildings.
Ponderosa RanchCrawford Area
Ponderosa Ranch offers guests as young as 4 years old with riding options from May through October. Eight gentle quarter horses take you through 3,600 acres of pines, meadows, ravines and creek with greetings from mule deer and Merriam’s wild turkey. Corrals are available for your own horses.
Potter Depot MuseumPotter Area
Three miles east of Potter on U.S. Highway 30 is the historic Point of Rocks. The track here, called Buffalo Bend, is the sharpest curve on the Union Pacific line. Lodgepole Creek, which parallels the track, is the longest creek in the world.
Red Cloud Buttes & Treaty TreeCrawford Area
From Red Cloud Buttes, you see Crawford to the east, Fort Robinson to the south, and the Red Cloud Agency site to the southeast. Half a mile northwest is the site of the Treaty Tree, where in 1875 the U.S. government tried to buy the Black Hills from the Lakota.
Rick & Lucy’s Country Gift ShopSidney Area
Located in a renovated 1800s era barn, this organic farm offers herbs and spices, dips, medicinal herbs and more. There is a gift shop with Roman-inspired fountains and pottery. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday from May-September, or by appointment; and during the off season by appointment only.
Robidoux Trading PostGering Area
The sod-roofed building has been reconstructed with 100-year-old hand-hewn logs and period furnishings. It is located in beautiful Carter Canyon, on the original Oregon Trail route before travelers began using Mitchell Pass, known to settlers as Devil’s Gap.
Scamahorn MuseumGordon Area
The Scamahorn Museum is a restored 1880s Methodist church and houses local history exhibits, military displays, Native American artifacts, pioneer and agricultural tools and genealogical records. It is open 1-4 pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and 7-9 pm Tuesday, Thursday from Memorial Day-Labor Day.
Scottsbluff National MonumentGering Area
Scotts Bluff is what remains of the ancient High Plains that were eroded by rivers over millions of years. The uniquely Nebraskan formation is part of the scenic Wildcat Hills. Fossilized remains of ancient rhinoceroses, horses, camels and other prehistoric creatures have been discovered here.
Toadstool Geologic ParkHarrison Area
Toadstool Geologic Park is regarded as a strange landscape within the grassland. Sediment layers deposited by ancient volcanoes have eroded at different rates, leaving sandstone formations perched on clay stems. Early residents referred to the formations as toadstools.
Tri-State Old Time Cowboy MuseumGordon Area
Cowboy memorabilia from the late 1800s through the present day is displayed at the Tri-State Old Time Cowboy Museum. Relics include antique furniture, dental equipment, ranching tools and barbed wire. The museum is open 1-5 p.m. daily, June 1-Sept. 15, and by appointment.
Wildcat Hills State Recreation AreaGering Area
This 531-acre park 10 miles south of Gering offers stunning panoramic views of the North Platte River Valley and 3 miles of trails. The rugged terrain is challenging and elevations approach 5,000 feet. A newly renovated nature center offers educational opportunities, interactive exhibits, and more.
World’s Smallest CourthouseArthur Area
Arthur boasts what is believed to be the world’s smallest courthouse. The 26-by-28-foot white frame building was built a year after Arthur County seceded from McPherson County in 1913. Though it still stands, it was replaced with a larger courthouse in 1961.