With our history of pioneers and homesteaders, it’s no wonder that Nebraska has so many museums and other attractions dedicated to preserving that part of our history. If you want to really get in touch with Nebraska’s roots, though, you can’t beat one of our historic villages. These places really help history come to life.
Harold Warp's Pioneer Village, Minden
Pioneer Village is one of those classic Nebraska attractions that you really have to see. The huge 20-acre living museum features 26 buildings and more than 50,000 pieces of Americana history.
The village itself consists of 12 buildings outfitted in period-appropriate furnishings and other items. Elsewhere on the grounds, you'll find a huge collection of antique vehicles and tons of interesting historical items. Plan to spend at least half a day exploring it all.
Dobby's Frontier Town, Alliance
Dobby's Frontier Town was the personal project of a man, Kenneth Dobby Lee, who had a deep admiration for the history of our fascinating state. He personally helped save 19 historic buildings which became this one-of-a-kind attraction.
The town preserves the feel of an old western frontier town, complete with a cobbler's shop, church, saloon, and much more. Dobby's is free to visit, though goodwill donations are gratefully accepted.
Lincoln County Museum Western Heritage Village, North Platte
The extensive village at the Lincoln County Museum has everything from private residences to a barber shop, blacksmith, general store, and several farm buildings. These restored historic structures were taken from nearby locations to be preserved and displayed at the museum. All told, there are 23 stops to make on your tour of the village, including the main museum building.
Mayhew Cabin/John Brown's Cave/Historic Village, Nebraska City
As Nebraska's only underground railroad site, Mayhew Cabin and John Brown's Cave has been a long-time favorite of history buffs and schoolchildren alike.
The cabin is its own piece of Nebraska history, outfitted in the way it would have been in the 1850s when the Mayhews lived there. Under the cabin is a walking tour of what the secret underground railroad hiding spot may have looked like when escaped slaves passed through on their way to freedom. There are several other buildings on the site, including a train depot, a church, and an old one-room schoolhouse.
Ogallala's Front Street, Ogallala
Front Street is a fun little place to stop and get some interesting old west history. It's not technically a full village, but the buildings' facades have all been made up to look like an old west town. The museum is small, but it offers some great cowboy history.
One of the highlights of Front Street is the Crystal Palace Revue that runs all summer. It begins with a staged gunfight in the street, then moves inside for singing, dancing, and silliness.
Visiting an historic village with the family is a great way to have fun while sneaking in a little learning. Which historic village in Nebraska is your favorite? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments.