Red Cloud, Nebraska

Red Cloud, Nebraska

Nestled in the scenic Republican Valley, Red Cloud, Nebraska has probably been described more often in literature than any other village of its size. This Webster County Seat was once the home of Willa Cather (1873-1947), the noted American author.

Because of the significance of Cather's writings and the history of Red Cloud and Webster County, the area was designated The Willa Cather Thematic District, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places . The thematic district encompasses twenty-six individually significant sites and four historic districts, including the Cather Prairie. In all, more than 190 sites are included in the district, making it possibly the largest historic district dedicated to an author in the United States.

For recreation there is a challenging 9-hole golf course with watered grass greens and fairways, an outstanding baseball facility, a competition sized swimming pool with new bath house, a six-lane bowling alley and a 3/8 mile high-bank, oval dirt racetrack.

Visit this appealing town and enjoy its late 19th century architecture, bricked main street, and historically enhanced lighting.

History... Red Cloud, named for the Oglala Sioux chief, was founded early in 1871 on homestead land filed upon by Silas Garber and Company, July 17, 1870, at Beatrice, the nearest land office. It is one of the oldest communities in the Republican Valley. When Webster County was organized, Red Cloud was voted County Seat at the first county election, April 19, 1871. The election was held in the dugout of Silas Garber, Nebraska's governor, 1875-1879.

The meeting of the Burlington and Missouri River Railways reached here in 1879, accelerating immigration from the East and abroad, bringing together a colorful variety of cultural heritage. During the 1880s, Red Cloud served as a division center for the railroad. The architectural design of Webster Street was established during that prosperous time when many of the first frame and log structures were replaced by more elaborate buildings of brick and stone.

Attractions and Upcoming Events

Willa Cather State Historic Site

The Farmers' and Merchants' Bank building, 1889, was erected by Silas Garber, the founder of Red Cloud (1871), the fourth governor of Nebraska (1875-1879), and the prototype for Captain Forrester in A Lost Lady.

Red Cloud, NE Historic Sites

The Red Cloud Opera House

The Red Cloud Opera House, 1885, stood for many years as the jewel in Main Street's crown. Here Blind Boone played, William Jennings Bryan spoke, and it was from this stage that Willa Cather graduated in 1890 and delivered her eloquent oration, "Superstition vs. Investigation"

Red Cloud, NE Historic Buildings

Chief Red Cloud

Red Cloud, the English name of Makhpiya Luta, the Oglala Sioux chief, and his followers were prominent participants in the Powder River War of 1865 and other subsequent battles. The chief himself was a significant player in the failure of the army's 1865

Red Cloud, NE Famous People

The Auld Public Library

The Auld Public Library, 1917-1918, is a gift of William Thomas Auld, uncle of Jessica Cather Auld's husband, J. W. (Bill) Auld. Jessica was one of Willa's younger sisters. He gave the city of Red Cloud $20,000 in early April, 1917. On April 9

Red Cloud, NE Historic Buildings

Grace Episcopal Church

Built in 1884 on the corner of Second and Walnut, the Grace Protestant Episcopal Church was moved to its present location in 1891. The brick veneer was added sometime after 1922. Grace Episcopal Church is the church in which Willa Cather and her parents were confirmed on December 27, 1922

Red Cloud, NE Historic Churches

Things to do near Red Cloud, NE

Johnson Lake Camping

Two campgrounds, with both primitive and modern camping facilities, provide access to day-use and overnight visitors. At t...