An authentic western adventure awaits you at Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska.
Fort Robinson was an active military post from 1874 to 1948. History comes alive here — the site of the epic Cheyenne Outbreak, the world’s largest Quartermaster Remount Depot, the last great gathering of the Sioux, and now a state park which thrives with families and tourists.
In the heart of the rugged Pine Ridge area in northwest Nebraska, 22,000 acres of rugged beauty beckon the traveler. With cottonwood trees lining the parade grounds, the brick and frame buildings lend the atmosphere of a college campus.
Start your visit with the tour train, or stagecoach to acquaint yourself with the fort. You can choose an early morning hayrack breakfast, a Jeep ride, or one of the seven trail rides daily to Soldier Creek or the Buttes. Young wranglers can ride ponies or join a family chuck wagon cookout. Take time for an evening car, or horse ride to Smiley Canyon to see the buffalo and burros as they graze.
Activities Center Sutler’s Store
This is the departure point for Jeep rides, tour train or van tours. Get tickets at the information center. Rent bikes or kayaks, visit the craft or nature center. The Sutler’s store has sandwiches, soft drinks and ice cream.
The Lineken Pool at Fort Robinson State Park offers a refreshing swim, as well as spectacular views of Pine Ridge country. It has a wading pool and a sundeck. The White River is nearby and you can rent tubes or kayaks at the activities center.
There is fishing for trout, bass and panfish at Soldier Creek. Legend Buttes Golf Course is a nine-hole layout with outstanding views near Crawford.
The Trailside Museum
You can view a Columbia mammoth skeleton that is 10,000-11,000 years old and view paleontology and geology exhibits of Nebraska’s rich fossil history at the Trailside Museum.
The museum is under the direction of the University of Nebraska and has a trained and informative staff. Ask about special classes for children. The buildings on the fort are within safe walking distance.
On Thursday nights during the summer you can attend a free rodeo. Young local talent compete in barrel racing, horse racing and cattle roping. Get ready for laughs and excitement, although the young people are serious and competitive.
A blond 6-year old beauty with a dazzling cowgirl outfit rode proudly in the parade. “Are you the rodeo queen”? called the announcer. “Not yet” was the instant reply.
The Post Playhouse
The Repertory Theater features comedies, musicals and melodramas. Performances are six nights a week, plus some matinees. Advance reservations are recommended.
The Post Playhouse is operated by Chadron State College. These college actors lend enthusiasm to their professional performances. They greet you in the lobby, and walk outside after the final curtain, to visit under the starlight skies.
Children who are entering grades one to six may attend theatrical activities in the afternoon for a modest fee. Parents are invited to a “performance” on Friday afternoons.
It’s the History of Course
Fort Robinson recaptures the importance of its role in Western history. The fort is named for Lt. Levi Robinson.
The famed Sioux Crazy Horse surrendered 889 members of his tribe at Fort Robinson. On Sept. 5, 1877, he was killed trying to escape imprisonment. Go to the history museum to see a video and artifacts to learn more.
A Hollywood movie and many books have been written about the Cheyenne Outbreak under Dull Knife. A tragic event which is recounted at the history museum.
From 1935-1939 the U.S. Olympics Equestrian Team trained at the fort. The War Dog Reception and Training Corp was established here in 1942.
In the 1940s, Italian and German prisoners of war were given the freedom to garden and to start a bakery. Soon they were supplying the fort with fresh vegetables and bakery goods.
Their humane treatment resulted in many of the men staying in Nebraska after the war. They became citizens, married and raised families here — proving “we reap as we have sown.”
If You Go . . .
At I-80, Exit 272, at Kearney, see the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument.
At I-80, Exit 177, to the North Platte Buffalo Bill Historical Park. Tour the Victorian home of Buffalo Bill and see the barn filled with saddles, a stagecoach and posters of his “Wild West Show.” Eat a picnic lunch and watch the bison.
Interested in World War II, Stop at the North Platte Canteen at the Lincoln County Historical Museum. From Christmas Day 1941, until April 1, 1946, over 12,000 volunteers met every troop train with homemade bread, bottles of milk, sandwiches and birthday cakes. They met as many as 23 trains a day, 24/7 — serving 6 million soldiers in all.
Railroaders — go to the Union Pacific Bailey Yard. Every 24 hours the Bailey Yard handles 10,000 railroad cars.
Note — to reach Fort Robinson you can take 63 north out of North Platte to Valentine then west to Chadron (the Fort is 20 miles west of Chadron).
Travel I-80 to Ogallala then west 26 - 385 north to Chadron (there are several historical sites including Ash Hollow National Park on this route).
Mid-April through Mid-November.
Food service at dining hall and store: Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Phone for reservations 308-665-2900 or check availability on line at nebraskastateparks.reserveamerica.com.