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Civil War Veterans Museum & G.A.R. Memorial Hall
910 1st Corso, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-4018
The Civil War Veterans Museum is housed in one of the last remaining Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Halls in the state. The G.A.R. Memorial Hall was built in 1894 as a meeting place for veterans of the Union Army, but since its restoration and conversion to a museum it contains artifacts and exhibits that feature both sides of the conflict, dedicating it to the memory of both Union and Confederate veterans. The exhibited items include weapons, uniforms, art, medals, and trinkets from the Civil War era. The museum hosts demonstrations by the Living History Corps that include reenactments and hands-on activities. Younger visitors to the museum can also try on Civil War uniforms which have been tailored to scale. The G.A.R. Memorial Hall is now being maintained so that it may be once again used as a meeting place, research library, and historical museum.
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum
1423 Central Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-1078
The Kregel Windmill Factory Museum is housed in the last, intact historic windmill factory in the United States. The Kregel Windmill Company operated out of this factory from the time it was built in 1903 to Art Kregel’s death in 1991. In total the business ran for 112 years on Central Ave here in Nebraska City. The museum opened on April 26th, 2013 after an extensive two-year renovation. The main gallery is designed in such a way that visitors can walk through the Kregel Windmill Company factory and see it in an untouched state, appearing as though the workers simple left for lunch and never returned. The museum features seven interactive video kiosks that guide visitors through the gallery. Like many of the museums in Nebraska City, the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mayhew Cabin & John Brown's Cave
2012 4th Corso, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-3115
Mayhew Cabin & John Brown’s Cave is Nebraska’s first nationally recognized Underground Railroad historic site. The cabin was the home of Allen & Barbara Mayhew (formerly Barbara Kagy) and became a stop on the Underground Railroad after Barbara’s brother, John Henry Kagy. Kagy had lived in the cabin for over a year before moving to Kansas and becoming involved with John Brown, the famous abolitionist. Kagy would later take part in the attempted seizure of the United States federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry where he was shot to death during the raid in 1859. The museum houses a collection of artifacts from the slavery era as well as various displays highlighting the build-up and explosion of abolitionism in the 1850's. There is also a small replica village behind the museum and cabin which features a train depot, school, and church.
Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center
100 Valmont Drive, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 874-9900
Sitting just outside Nebraska City on a 79-acre bluff overlooking the Missouri River is the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Visitor Center. This 12,000 square foot facility is dedicated to the study and interpretation of the amazing scientific discoveries made by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis on their historic expedition to the Pacific Ocean. The Center features interactive exhibits, full-scale replicas of the keel boat and pirogue used by the Corps of Discovery, and a Plains Indian earth lodge. The grounds also feature beautiful observation trails the overlook the Missouri River, allowing visitors to see for themselves sights similar to what the Captains would have witnessed over 200 years ago.
Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting
1320 Central Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-4403
The Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska’s oldest volunteer fire department, dating from the formation of the first “bucket brigade” in 1856. The collection is comprised of artifacts which were actually used throughout the years by the Nebraska City Volunteer Fire Department. Some of the exhibited items include an 1884 Button steam engine used to pump water from the Missouri River, 1926 and 1938 Seagrave pumper trucks, and many hands-on displays. Kids visiting the museum will have fun dressing up in firefighting gear and playing on the 1966 American LaFrance firetruck. There is certainly something here for every age group.
711 3rd Corso, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-6188
The Taylor-Wessel-Bickel-Nelson House is a museum inside an 1857 brick home which sits on one of the historic brick streets just a couple blocks off Central Avenue in Nebraska City. The exhibits within this house from Nebraska’s territorial era show how the town of Nebraska City has changed and evolved over the years, seen through the eyes of the different families that lived there. Visitors will watch the town’s buildings and streets grow from dirt to pavement, from oxen to the first automobiles. See opera houses, race tracks, churches, and mansions rise up from the Nebraska prairie. The community’s history is surprising, captivating, and endearing.
Old Freighters Museum
407 N 14th Street, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-6188
Housed in the home office of the Russell, Majors, & Waddell Freighting Company, this museum’s mission is focused on the interpreting the significance of the freighting and shipping industry in the development of Nebraska City. Russell, Majors, & Waddell, more widely known for their later business venture the Pony Express, spent around $300,000 in 1859 to turn Nebraska City into a shipping port for their company. Russell, Majors, & Waddell was the largest shipping firm in the Great Plains at the time and they reportedly reached their peak in 1865, moving 44 million pounds of freight that year. The exhibits in this museum demonstrate not only the history of the shipping firm, but also the history of westward movement along the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. One exhibit houses the last remaining piece of the “Steam Wagon”, which is one small part of an interesting and humorous anecdote from the early years of Nebraska City.
Otoe County Museum of Memories
366 Poplar Street, Syracuse, NE 68446 (402) 269-2355
The Otoe County Museum of Memories in Syracuse consists of three buildings at 366 Popular Street. A variety of historical attractions and exhibitions are available at the museum. The main building is the former First Lutheran Church, which was dedicated in 1881. The church, built for $1,500, was a daughter church of First Lutheran Church, North Branch, near Avoca. The church has been divided into five display rooms: an old-time butcher shop, a carriage room with a sleigh, a country store made from cottonwood logs, a loom room which also includes a section of the 1912 Syracuse telephone switchboard, and a doctor’s office. The parsonage next door features vintage furnishing displays and exhibits on Otoe County military history and businesses. A small building next to the parsonage now houses a display of wildlife specimens with interactive exhibits related to nature science.
River Country Nature Center
114 S 6th Street, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-4265
The River Country Nature Center houses the life’s work of Nebraska City taxidermist Joe Voges. There are over 400 specimens of wildlife native to Nebraska on display, as well as many exotic species from around the world. The Center features interactive exhibits related to natural science, wildlife biology, conservation, archaeology, and paleontology. The Center’s main gallery is divided into four major environmental areas: Eastern deciduous, Riparian, Grasslands, and Sandhills. Along with the displays and interactive exhibits, the Center also contains a library of reference materials on the fauna of Nebraska and a classroom where they hold various educational programs.
Wildwood Historic Center
420 Steinhart Park Road, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-6340
Built in 1869, the ten-room Gothic style Wildwood House brings to life the Victorians era in early Nebraska. The house is furnished as it would have been during the time that Jasper and Ellen Ware would have lived here “amidst the wild wood” in western Nebraska City. Guests are able to step into the lives of a Victorian era family and see the way they lived their daily lives. Also on display at Wildwood Historic Center is a showcase of regional arts and crafts. During the month of October the house is decorated for a Victorian-style Christmas, with musicians playing carols on the original Steinway piano in the parlor. Docents at Wildwood Historic Center give enthralling guided tours while dressed in period clothing, often not replicas. Also on the grounds of Wildwood Historic Center is the Victorians Garden nestled at the back of the property which guests are invited to enjoy year-round.