Pony Express Stations, Gothenburg:
Gothenburg is home to two Pony Express Stations. The Midway, on its original ranch site south of Gothenburg, opens to the public on request during the summer. The Sam Machette Station, located in Ehmen Park at 15th and Lake Avenue, was used as an early trading post/ranch house, just southwest of Gothenburg. The station was moved from its original site and rebuilt in the park in 1931. This station is open to visitors April 1 through October 31. A guide is on staff, and no admission is charged. On August 10, 1992 the Nebraska Legislature designated Gothenburg as Pony Express Capital of Nebraska, after almost 40 years of promoting the history of the Pony Express.
Gothenburg Historical Museum, Gothenburg:
The Gothenburg Historical Museum is located across the street from the Pony Express Station museum and features historical displays of the Union Pacific, the power plant constructed in 1891 to generate electricity for new industry and the settlement of the town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It offers a chance to glimpse the colorful times of long ago. Admission is free and the museum is open May through September.
Sod House Museum, Gothenburg:
A red, barn-shaped museum honors the area’s early settlers. A huge, sod-cutting plow graces the front yard. The museum owners built the sod house behind the museum like the original “soddies” in 1988, barbed wire sculptures and a windmill complete the pioneer scene. This attraction was awarded The Vinton Award as Nebraska’s most innovative tourist attraction using area resources.
Swedish Crosses, Gothenburg:
For over a century, the three markers in the Swedish Crosses Cemetery have stood as a lasting symbol of Gothenburg’s Swedish heritage. These unusual and artistic grave markers, wrought in Swedish steel by a loving grandfather, mark three children’s graves on a prairie homestead that is now part of pioneer history.
Lake Helen, Gothenburg:
Lake Helen was created in the early 1890s when a 10-mile canal was dug to allow water from the Platte River to fill a dammed canyon and create a reservoir. Originally, the area supported an electricity plant, which brought industry (such as a brass foundry, flour mills, shirt factories, barbed wire factories, vinegar works and a brick kiln) to the area. Unfortunately, the money panic of 1893 ended the boom days, leaving a large lake, a powerhouse and a downtown of substantial brick buildings. The lake was used to provide water for irrigation to a community that would rely on its agriculture to sustain it. Today, the lake provides a scenic recreation area excellent for fishing and features a 2.5-mile exercise trail.
Robert Henri Museum & Historical Walkway, Cozad:
Located in the Historic Hendee Hotel, the Robert Henri Museum is a tribute to a young Cozad man who made good in spite of his father’s reputation. Robert Henry Cozad fled the community after his father, town founder John J. Cozad, shot a man in an argument. Robert loved art, and in the years that followed he became one of the greatest painters and art teachers of the early 20th century. Some of his works are displayed here, plus artifacts from the environment in which he grew up.
The Historical Walkway follows a brick path to an original Pony Express Station, which is furnished as it would have been during the Pony Express era. Across Veterans Memorial Park stands the “Little Church by the Park,” which opened its doors in 1882. The nearby one-room country school was built in 1880. The center of Veterans Memorial Park is the home of the Veterans Monument and the new Cozad Monument, which stands as a tribute to Cozad families, residents, businesses and organizations. The center of the monument bears a black granite stone with an etched picture of founder John J. Cozad.
100th Meridian Marker, Cozad:
The light bouncing from the meridian sign over U.S. Highway 30 welcomes many visitors. The actual 100th Meridian Marker can be found at the Cozad Airport, where the demarcation line is found.
100th Meridian Museum, Cozad:
Founded in 1994 to preserve Cozad’s unique history, this museum recognizes the city’s special location directly on the 100th Meridian of Longitude. Permanent displays include the Concord antique touring coach used by the William Howard Taft family when they visited Yellowstone Park in 1907.
Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles, Lexington:
It is the dream of four local men who wouldn’t take no for an answer. This museum has stood for over 15 years to honor historic military vehicles. Military aficionados gravitate toward the museum. Many of the jeeps, trucks, ambulances and Downed Airman retrievers on display could roll out at any given moment. Admission to this attraction is free. With a recent expansion complete, there are plans to develop additional displays inside and outside.
Dawson County Museum, Lexington:
The Dawson County Historical Museum, located in Lexington, coordinates several living history events annually to allow children and adults a hands-on experience in exploring the past. The museum houses a log cabin, country schoolhouse, locomotive and depot, a 1915 McCabe baby biplane and trail exhibits. The museum has just completed their $1.2 million, 15,000-square-foot expansion, which will provide cutting-edge technology for their visitors. Building features include a public research center, a larger gallery, an expanded and interactive Platte River and Ogallala Aquifer exhibit, larger gift shop and more parking.