When you think of the days of the old settlers, a picture of horse-drawn carriages, covered wagons, one-room schoolhouses, general stores, sod houses and a simpler way of life enters your mind. That's exactly what you will find at Western Nebraska's largest historical museum, the North Platte Valley Museum, where the history of our valley comes alive.
Displays throughout the 10,000 square foot exhibit area show a family traveling on the Oregon Trail by covered wagon settled for the night by a campfire, Nebraska's first female doctor treating a patient, and re-enactments of a prairie town's general store, post office and school. Some displays are based on actual Scottsbluff county businesses, including Downey's Photography in Scottsbluff and the Gering Courier newspaper in Gering.
The museum also features collections of Native American and fur traders' artifacts, as well as a restored 1919 Patriot truck, built in Lincoln, Nebraska and used to haul sugar beets in the valley.
A saddle exhibit features a rare plastic saddle built in Scottsbluff in the 1940's, including one which is similar to that used by Roy Rogers.
Also, a replica of a dugout found in nearby Mitchell is displayed in the museum, set up as a pioneer home would have looked in 1886.
Outside of the museum's main building, you will be delighted to have the opportunity to tour an authentic sod house, one of less than a dozen of its kind in the United States. South of the sod house sits an original log cabin. These homes, which were built in the late 1800s, contain authentic items belonging to the families who originally lived in them, as well as other period-specific items set up to give visitors a real look at how settlers lived.
A few steps away sits an old jail used at Fort Sidney, where prisoners were detained in the metal structure with a small opening for food and water.
Also outside the museum, visitors will notice markers indicating where the property intersects with the famed Oregon Trail, as well as the Pony Express.
The Western History Archive is the repository for The Paul & Helen Henderson Oregon Trail Collection. This collection will be of benefit to all who are interested in the Oregon Trail as the most comprehensive collection ever compiled on western America's overland trails.
The North Platte Valley Museum, which is in its 40th year of existence, is constantly changing and growing, and promises its guests a heartening look at the settlement of the North Platte Valley and Scotts Bluff County, including an intimate walk through pioneers' homes and towns.
Admission: $3 per adult (over 12) and .50 for children under 12.
Hours: May through September, Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm, and Saturdays/Sundays noon-4:00pm (MST).
Address: 11th & J Streets
Our Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to visit September-May, please call or e-mail us and we can probably arrange a visit for you. If you would like to schedule a larger group tour, please call or e-mail us so we can make any necessary arrangements.
Most visitors spend at least an hour touring our facility, so please try to arrive before 4:00pm on weekdays and 3:00pm on weekends.
Come visit us in Gering, Nebraska