America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Pioneer Village, Nebraska
No, it's not a genuine site, meaning, you're not necessarily going to be in the town where something happened. It's more a re-creation, as much about preserving the history as it is about the specific action that happened there. But that does not make a visit to Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska any less fun, and there's a ton of history there, too. Sometimes, in this modern world, it's easy to forget what has come before us. And many times, the lap of progress overcomes structures and places that should remain. At Pioneer Village, as with other re-created sites like the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, New York, these sites take those old structures that are going to be torn down and place them in a setting that can tell their story in a slightly different way. It's about preservation and history. Not a bad idea at all. In fact, a pretty great one to visit. Photo above: The exterior of the People's Store at Pioneer Village. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
It's twenty acres of western pioneer history, whimsy, and a car show to boot. With twenty-eight buildings spread over twenty acres, Pioneer Village takes that step back in time to an era when Pony's brought the mail, women wore corsets, and children were seen and not heard. Begun in 1953 by Harold Warp, a businessman from Chicago born in Minden, the museum provides that nineteenth century glimpse into a slower life and a tougher life lived by ancestors of us all. There's a main building that is really a museum to progress. It's over twenty thousand square feet large with ten thousand artifacts. All told, the site has fifty thousand artifacts of Americana delight. Then there's the village green surrounded by those restored and saved buildings from other sites. There you can see a Pony Express Station and barn, a country school, store, a fort, and more.
At Pioneer Village, they're really a one stop shop, too. You can camp there, one hundred and thirty-five spots, or stay in their motel, forty-four rooms. And you don't even have to travel there by horse and buggy or bring the mail. And over six million people have visited here since 1953, so it's already been endorsed as fun by a bunch more than a few.
Photo above: Wood engraving of the Pony Express by George M. Ottinger, photo by Savage, 1867. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Where Is It
Pioneer Village is located at 138 East U.S. Highway 6, Minden, NE 68959. It is located twelve miles south of Exit 279 from Interstate 80 down Highway 10. From Lincoln, it's one hundred and thirty-seven miles southwest. From Grand Island, it's fifty-three miles southwest. From North Platte and Buffalo Bill's Ranch, it's one hundred and eighteen miles southeast.
What is There Now
Pioneer Village includes museums of Americana, Currier and Ives paintings, automobile exhibits (some three hundred and fifty of them), outdoor exhibits, restored and re-created structures, plus a motel and campsite.
Other buildings - Railroad depot, Pony Express Station, Country School House, Country Church, General Store, Elm Creek Fort, Land Office, and more. Yes, there is a Merry-Go-Round, too.
Snack Bar - Open in summer months for ice cream, sandwiches, and more.
How Much to Visit
Adult $14.25. Children 6-12, $7.25. Under 6 free. Two day ticket also available for $20.50. Rates subject to change without notice.
Open daily, except Christmas Day. 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., summer till 6:00 p.m. Pioneer Village is run by a non-profit educational association.
So what else is there to do near the Pioneer Village? Well, on a similar topic, there's the midwest sites of the Oregon Trail and the Oklahoma Land Rush, plus the trail of the Pony Express itself. Not too far away, in Nebraska, there's the ranch of Buffalo Bill.