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Best Places to Find Frontier & Old West Cowboy Adventures in Nebraska

The cattle drives of the late 1800s took the cattle — and the cowboys — to the young state of Nebraska. Actually, Nebraska historian, Nellie Snyder Yost, referred to it as “God’s own cow country.” While we frequently consider states like Montana and Texas as cowboy nation, once you get proper down to it, there’s a variety of cowboy history in Nebraska simply waiting to be discovered and skilled. Here’s an inventory of 5 I enjoyed:

Web page Contents

Excessive Plains Homestead close to Crawford
Entrance Road and Cowboy Museum in Ogallala
Boot Hill Cemetery in Ogallala
National Pony Categorical Monument in Sidney
Museum of the Fur Commerce in Chadron

Excessive Plains Homestead

Sheriff’s office and jail on the Excessive Plains Homestead in Nebraska.

There’s one thing about visiting the badlands that all the time makes me consider the previous west and outlaw days. Perhaps it’s the rugged terrain or perhaps it’s how straightforward it’s to lose one thing — or get misplaced — in all those crevices and coulees. Regardless of the cause, it’s undoubtedly the right setting for the Excessive Plains Homestead close to Crawford, NE.

High Plains Homestead is many issues, from a spot to cling your hat and crawl right into a bunk for the night time, to an Old West settlement with quite a lot of historic buildings. One among my favorites was an unique jail cell. Certainly, most of the buildings have been saved from different places and rehabilitated. It isn’t Disney–it’s genuine.

Keep on the High Plains Homestead

Barn and corrals at the High Plains Homestead in Nebraska.

Barn and corrals on the High Plains Homestead in Nebraska.

Once you go to, you’ll discover that the buildings are principally weathered log cabins. Again in pioneer days, settlers had to build a 12 x 12 cabin in order to fulfill homesteading obligations. Native lore has it that some homesteaders tried constructing cabins in inches, moderately than ft measurements. The government, in fact, didn’t recognize the humor! While the mail-order brides who arrived may need discovered the area somewhat cramped, log cabins little question beat the sod homes. Indeed, many have been carved out of the protein rich grass the place first nice herds of bison roamed, then later, cattle.

Now, you possibly can take a peek inside the varied buildings and spend the night time. My favorite cabin was the “Honeymoon Homesteader” (you’ll be able to even have your wedding ceremony at the Homestead!). Want to deliver your personal accommodations? That works too, as you’ll be able to camp or use the RV amenities.

Entrance Road and Cowboy Museum in Ogallala

Front Street and Cowboy Museum in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Front Road and Cowboy Museum in Ogallala, Nebraska.

While the Excessive Plains Homestead takes you to the sting of the badlands to experience an evening in the Old West, Ogallala’s Front Road and Cowboy Museum provides you a more city expertise simply off the I-80 interchange.

In the last many years of the 1800s, Ogallala was the top of the trail for hundreds of cowboys — and lots of of hundreds of cattle. So, almost 60 years ago a gaggle obtained together to be sure that historical past was preserved and built Front Road. Whereas the business was bought in 2016, the new house owners have continued its traditions.

Entrance Road offers an amazing place to take pleasure in a cowboy meal. Treat your self to a Nebraska steak and glass of Sarsaparilla (a particularly fashionable drink in the late 1800s), or the cowboy favorite, a slice of pie. It additionally has a free cowboy museum filled with memorabilia of cowboy life that’s enjoyable to wander via.

For those who plan your go to nicely, you may as well take in the Entrance Road Crystal Palace Revue. The previous west shoot out and musical out has been operating summers greater than half a century!  And when you’re on the lookout for a fantastic place to stay, the very snug Stagecoach Inn is nearby.

Boot Hill Cemetary in Ogallala

Boot Hill Cemetery in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Boot Hill Cemetery in Ogallala, Nebraska.

You’ll find various cemeteries named Boot Hill across the American West. Historical past.internet claims the primary was in Tombstone, Arizona, which was laid out in plots in 1878. Dodge City, nevertheless, had an earlier version where these with no means of help–or buddies–have been buried between 1872 and 1878.

And why was Boot Hill such a standard identify for a cemetery? Nicely, its ordinary residents died with their boots on, typically because of a run-in with lawmen.

The Boot Hill Cemetery in Ogallala has no particular document of its first inhabitants. Fairly, it served as the ultimate stop for many who misplaced their lives in the town reputed to be probably the most violent on the Texas (Western) Cattle Path between 1870 and 1885.

Cattle Drives

Trail Boss Statue in Boot Hill, Ogallala, Nebraska.

Path Boss Statue in Boot Hill along with grave markers, Ogallala, Nebraska.

A minimum of one million cattle tramped up the trail from Texas, along with a whole lot of trail drovers, to the trail’s finish at Ogalalla. Why? To be fattened up by native ranchers. Come fall, they have been shipped east on the newly arrived Union Pacific railroad automobiles to meet the rising demand for beef.

For a decade or so, from 1874, the cattle business and cowboys ruled the financial system of Ogallala.

Trail bosses, just like the one ceaselessly immortalized on Ogallala’s Boot Hill, tried to hold a decent rein on their inventory — and their drovers. Te sculpture above, of The Path Boss (a reproduction of 1 in Dallas, Texas) replaced an earlier statue of a cowboy that was moved to the Ogallala Livestock Auction Market in 2007.

About forty-eight our bodies are buried on Boot Hill in Ogallala. Locals say there might even be extra. Some have been youngsters, some ladies, however most who ended up on Boot Hill really did die with their boots on — and a weapon in their palms.

National Pony Categorical Monument – Sidney, Nebraska

National Pony Express Monument in Sidney, Nebraska.

National Pony Categorical Monument in Sidney, Nebraska.

When it comes to men driving horses in the Old West, none are extra legendary than the riders of the Pony Categorical. Certainly, it took simply 10 days for pony categorical riders to carry mail for 1800 miles from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California.

Mail in these days, in fact, sometimes took a for much longer time to get from east to west by stagecoach. Began by a freight company in Nebraska Metropolis, the Pony Categorical was initially a publicity stunt aimed toward touchdown a government contract to transport the mail. And for those who assume postage is excessive now, these first letters value $5 per ½ ounce! Postage was later decreased to $1 per ½ ounce.

In complete, 183 males rode for the Pony Categorical. The youngest was a mere 11, and the oldest in his mid-40s, and every earned $100 a month. Whereas the time span was brief, from April three, 1860, to October 24, 1861, the Pony Categorical left a big imprint on American historical past.

Nebraska’s National Pony Categorical monument, unveiled on the 150th anniversary re-ride in 2010 by the National Pony Categorical Affiliation, celebrates that historical past. It’s straightforward to discover in another historic spot in Sidney, Nebraska — in the corner of the parking zone for the primary Cabela’s clothes shop store.

Museum of the Fur Commerce – Chadron, Nebraska

Diorama of voyageurs paddling across America on display at the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE.

Diorama of voyageurs paddling throughout America on show on the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE.

The fur commerce was North America’s first business business. From the 16th century on, fur traders paddled the rivers, set up trading posts, and made alliances that modified changed historical past. Visitors can step back by means of time into that history at The Museum of the Fur Commerce in Chadron, Nebraska.

The Lindeken Exhibit Corridor celebrates the three centuries when the canoe males or the voyageurs followed North America’s rivers and streams into the interior. It was a time earlier than maps — between 1804 and 1806 William Clark is credited with getting ready 140 maps on the Lewis & Clarke journey throughout America. However they weren’t the first mapmakers. In truth, additionally they collected about 30 maps from early fur merchants and trappers.

Later, into the top of the 1800s, pink river carts have been used for overland transportation of the furs. These have been typically built by the Metis (descendants of the voyageurs and their native wives), with iron bands for the wheels added by wheelwrights employed by the fur corporations.

Certainly one of these carts might carry up to 800 or 900 pounds of commerce goods, or furs, on the return journey. The museum has an attractive duplicate of this transportation innovation on show.

Steerman Firearms Corridor

Display of rifles from the War of 1812 in the Fur Trade Museum in Chadron, NE.

Display of rifles from the Warfare of 1812 in the Fur Commerce Museum in Chadron, NE.

The Museum of the Fur Commerce has the most important, and most complete, assortment of weapons made particularly for trade with the early Indian inhabitants of the continent. Many are simply named as Northwest weapons, along with the years they have been built. Others embrace Hawken rifles, buffalo guns, even Remingtons.

The years on the data playing cards for every gun or rifle have been enough to grab my attention. In reality, the gathering consists of the earliest recognized intact commerce gun, which was made in the Netherlands earlier than 1650!

Gunpowder and Gunpowder Horns

Display of gunpowder at the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE.

Show of gunpowder at the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE.

And there were numerous goods being transported by numerous fur corporations for trade with the local individuals! You possibly can see many of these items in the museum, together with the world’s most complete assortment of textiles traded during this period (Bevin B. and Maxine Bump Exhibit Corridor).

Nevertheless, it was the display above, of gunpowder and gunpowder horns, that amazed me. While I’d definitely learn tons about gunpowder — and seen black powder rifles fired — I hadn’t expected the superbly adorned tins and variously formed horns traded to locals.

Outside Reveals

Trading Post at the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE.

Linda Aksomitis standing outdoors the Buying and selling Submit at the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, NE.

As well as four exhibit halls and a museum store contained in the white-plastered central building, there are a selection of out of doors reveals.

The trading submit above, a trustworthy reconstruction of the original 1837 construction, was my favourite. It sits next to Bordeaux Creek, which was named for James Bordeaux, the fur trader who ran it during its peak years.

Other buildings embrace the Commerce Room the place the fur merchants and trappers worked out their deals. What have been things value again then?

  • Flintlock gun – 5 buffalo robes
  • Medium blanket – three buffalo robes
  • 5 yards of print cotton material – 1 buffalo gown
  • 50 bullets 1 lb powder – 1 buffalo robe

There’s additionally a robe press used to bale the buffalo robes. Each winter, the Bordeaux Submit took in a few thousand tanned buffalo robes. When folded (hair to the within), the robes measured 2 ft by 3 ft in measurement. Japanese consumers purchased the robes for mattress covers, and lab robes for touring and coats.

The Indian Garden was additionally outdoors. Grown from seeds collected over a century-and-a-quarter ago by a Dakota horticulturist, Oscar Will, the crops embrace midget Mandan tobacco, Assiniboin flint corn, and blue-kernelled little corn.

Concerning the Museum of the Fur Commerce

Various artifacts in the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska.

Numerous artifacts in the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska.

I assumed I knew so much concerning the fur commerce till I visited the Museum of the Fur Trade. Was I ever mistaken! Actually, the inspiration of the museum is in its library and research program. Their library has about 10,000 volumes on the fur trade and related subjects. Additionally they have tons of of rolls of microfilm of fur company data.

My information of the fur trade revolved round Canada’s Hudson’s Bay Company and The Northwest Company. What I’d missed coated the globe, as the fur trade was carried on from Greenland to Alaska and Hudson’s Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. That’s numerous territory. And all of it’s part of the Museum’s research.

Indeed, the Museum has been building its library and assortment of artifacts — there are 6000+ main objects — since 1949. At that time, Charles Hanson, together with others interested in preserving fur commerce historical past, created an affiliation that hoped to manage an 1830s trading submit in Colorado. When the plans didn’t work out, they found the location at Chadron and opened the museum there in 1955.

Plan Your Visit to These Old West Points of interest

In the event you’d like to plan your personal trip to expertise frontier and cowboy days in Nebraska, listed here are some assets to get you started.

Northwest High Nation
Entrance Road Cowboy Capital
Museum of the Fur Trade
Ogallala Keith County Chamber of Commerce
The Pony Categorical Nationwide Historic Trail & Monuments
Excessive Plains Homestead Nebraska


I visited these previous west sites on a press trip hosted by the Nebraska Tourism Commission and native CVBs. Whereas I used to be hosted, I retain full editorial control of the articles I write after taking this journey.