Nebraska July 21, 2018
Everyone In Nebraska Should See What’s Inside The Walls Of This Abandoned Fort
When people move on and industry crumbles, the remains are often abandoned amid the landscape. The United States of America is home to countless sites that have been abandoned — some for just a few years and others for centuries — and Nebraska is no exception. Today, we’re taking a step back in time to a historic, once-abandoned fort.
The first United States Army post to be established west of the Missouri River in the unorganized region of the Louisiana Purchase way back in 1819, Fort Atkinson is located just east of present-day Fort Calhoun.
But it’s history goes back even further, to the Louis and Clark Expedition of the early 1800s, when Clark visited the area and noted in his journal that it would be a suitable location for a fort.
The fort was occupied for less than ten years, from 1819 to 1827, and the site is now home to the Fort Atkinson State Historic Park, a National Historical Landmark.
Home to soldiers, traders, trappers, and other frontier people, Fort Atkinson has been credited as the first town in Nebraska by the Nebraska State Legislature, predating the creation of the Nebraska Territory by nearly 30 years.
In its heyday, more than 1,000 residents called Fort Atkinson home, and you could find a brickyard, lime kiln, stone quarry, grist mill, cooper shop, and saw mill.
Some say that at its height, the fort held nearly one-quarter of the standing U.S. Army. Wow!
Built to support the American fur trade and counteract British influence on the northern plains, the fort was constructed as part of a military expedition led by Colonel Henry Atkinson to establish a series of forts along the Missouri River under the leadership of President James Monroe.
The garrison here was only involved in combat once, in 1823.
After members of the Arikara tribe attacked a trading party along the Missouri River in present-day South Dakota, soldiers from the fort retaliated by attacking the Arikara villages. Although no American soldiers lost their lives in this brief skirmish, seven soldiers drowned on the way upriver after their keelboat struck a log. These seven men were counted as the United State’s first casualties in the Indian Wars on the Great Plains.
In 1827, the United States Army abandoned the fort at council bluff and reassigned its soldiers to other posts, primarily Fort Leavenworth.
When the Mormons established Cutler’s Park in 1846, some of their nourishment for the harsh winter was provided from the old provisions they found at the fort.
By the 1850s, little remained of the fort… but you can still visit today!
Nebraska State Historical Society archaeological crewmembers determined the locations of buildings at Fort Atkinson in the 1950s, and a replica fort was constructed by the state during the 1980s and 1990s.
Though the fort is not entirely original, it is still a fascinating destination.
Fort Atkinson is now a Nebraska State Historical Park and National Historical Landmark.
Today, you can visit this historic site, wander through a military museum, and immerse yourself in the area’s history before Nebraska even existed.
On the first weekend of the month from May through October, you can watch living history demonstrations at Fort Atkinson.
In addition to people demonstrating craftwork, military reenactors interpret the activities of the Sixth Regiment of United States Infantry and First Regiment of United States Riflemen.
Have you ever visited this old Nebraska fort? If so, share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below. Fort Atkinson State Historic Park is located at 201 S 7th St., Fort Calhoun, NE 68023, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information,
To discover an abandoned park right here in Nebraska,