I can't believe I've made it to the last day of our Wild West Road Trip! As I mentioned in my previous post, we had started making the long drive back home with just a few planned stops along the way. Just a little tip on how I planned those stops before I go on. First: About a month before our trip, I gathered numerous books from the library travel section on all the states we would be driving through. Every time I came across something interesting I made a note of it on my iPhone notes app. I divided the sections by states to make it easier for me to refer back to. Second: I searched on twitter for each state. I tweeted for advise to those people for interesting things to do in their state. That was VERY helpful! Then I made a list of several different twitter accounts to refer back to. I called it "Trip West". Lastly: I asked my friends and family for their favorite things to do in those states. Of course, there was a lot of the same response, but that helped me to know the big things everyone does. I was able to discover some interesting things that I had never heard of before and that leads me back to todays post...The Great Platte River Road Archway. Ever heard of it? I sure hadn't! It is located in Kearney, Nebraska and literally arches across interstate 80. You can't miss it. At least you can't miss seeing it as you drive by, they have made it difficult to get to...which I think they are trying to fix. I hope so anyway, because it is worth seeing . You might be wondering what it is, other than an archway over the highway. Well, that's what I am here to tell you. ;) Right there, in the middle of the highway in Nebraska is this fantastic history museum. I was very impressed!
This fellow, who was very much in character, greeted us at the door. He was lots of fun! There was a gift shop to the right of the entrance, where I purchased a very cute Nebraska spoon for my collection. There was also, what looked like a place to eat on the left. We didn't eat there and now that I am looking this place up on the internet, I can't find anything about food. Strange! Oh well, you aren't there for the food anyway, you are there for the museum. All the workers are dressed in historical costumes. One of them gives you a head set to listen to the information and off you go. Check out the entrance to the museum, up that escalator.
The point of the museum is to show the history of Nebraska starting in the 1800's with the pioneers. The map above shows how a lot of them went through Nebraska as they headed West. Of course, they were traveling in covered wagons, so that is how the "tour" starts. It is a self-guided tour that you can do at your own pace. The headsets tell you stories, play music and even make the sounds of storms, trains, cars, etc. Even cooler, they have some sort of devise that knows when you have moved on to the next room. When you do, the information for that room starts playing. Very cool headsets!
The sky above is actually moving, like a movie. As you listen to the people trying to push their covered wagon, a storm rolls in and the whole scene changes. It was really neat. (I'm such a nerd!) :)
You literally walk through time and witness the first settler homesteads, the birth of the railroads, the Lincoln Highway (which we traveled on to get here) and can see how it all changed throughout time.
That is an authentic 1914 Model T Ford, above, and an authentic 1961 Cadillac convertible, below. And you could go inside the Roadside Cafe (no food, just for show). Having just been to Yellowstone, I recognized that waterfall in the picture. I thought it looked just like Artist Point. Don't you?
Being the history nerd that I am, I really enjoyed this museum. It wasn't your typical history museum. You felt like you were a part of the history as you walked through and the headsets really added to the experience. I think it would be enjoyable for all ages as well. What an unexpected little stop on our last day. I was happy! :)