Nebraska April 01, 2018
This Antique Theme Park In Nebraska Will Make You Long For The Good Old Days
When you think of a “theme park,” you probably imagine a big, expensive, crowded place with rides and familiar cartoon characters come to life. Nebraska has another type of theme park, though, and it’s all about remembering and celebrating our history and progress.
You might infer from the name on the sign that this attraction is all about pioneer life. There are a lot of terrific examples of pioneer life here, but that's far from all Pioneer Village has to offer.
The entire thing is the brainchild of one Nebraska man. Harold Warp was born in a sod house on a farm near Minden. After making a modest fortune from his invention of Flex-O-Glass, Warp invested a significant amount of money in the preservation of the past.
He purchased 12 of Minden's historic buildings, and others from even further away. He had them moved to this property and arranged around a "town square." And then he stuffed them full of fascinating artifacts. Harold Warp Pioneer Village opened its doors in 1953.
The "pioneer" in the attraction's name actually refers not only to the brave prairie pioneers who tamed this land; it refers to the pioneering nature of humankind as a whole.
A quote from Harold Warp at the museum's entrance says it best: "For thousands of years man lived quite simply. Then like a sleeping giant our world was awakened. In a mere hundred and twenty years of eternal time man progressed from open hearth, grease lamps and ox carts to television, super sonic speed, and atomic power. We have endeavored to show you the actual development of this astounding progress as it was unfolded by our forefathers and by ourselves."
In all, there are 28 buildings arranged on Pioneer Village's 20 acres. Each of them contains hundreds of well-preserved examples of items from our past. Many of the buildings themselves are relics, as well.
Unlike other museums where items are arranged in little tableaux to show how they may have been used, the objects at Pioneer Village are arranged to show progress over time.
In each building, the vintage items are displayed by age. At a glance, you can watch the progress of technology. This effect may be the most striking when looking at the progression of vehicles.
Every aspect of life is represented in these buildings. There are hobbies and playthings...
...Appliances and other household objects...
...Vintage medical supplies...
...Including an iron lung from the 1950s...
...An array of hunting gear..
...Historic radio and television collections...
...And even a wall of pens. No item is too small or too common to be represented here. Everything has a place, and everything helps to tell the story of our history.
Part of the charm here is the almost-chaotic arrangement of the more than 50,000 items. There are so many things to see that you may want to plan a couple of trips to be sure you're able to take it all in.
Many people who aren't familiar with Pioneer Village don't expect to see this wide an array of objects. These beautiful Americana artifacts stretch back all the way to pioneer times, and then up to the modern era. Even today, 65 years after it opened, the collection continues to grow.
Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village is open year-round and closed only on Christmas Day. It takes longer to walk through all of these exhibits than you might expect, so it’s best to plan for at least a full day to see it all. You can even buy a two-day pass so you can spend an entire weekend exploring. See hours and admission prices
here, and learn more about Pioneer Village and all of its fascinating objects here.