Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer Features Central Nebraska History

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Stuhr Building/Photos by Deb and Bruce Watley

Recently my husband and I visited the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Nebraska.

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Visitors begin at the recently renovated Stuhr Building. This building features exhibits giving an overview of the area’s history, from Native American life to the railroad’s influence.

Then we went to the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda which housed Native American artifacts, as well as cowboy and horse artifacts.

The museum grounds also feature multiple historic homes and a re-creation of a representative 1890s pioneer town dubbed Railroad Town.

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This rural church reminded me a little of one I attended as a small child.

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This log cabin was built in the 1850s in the Grand Island area. It had two rooms and a loft and was the home of a family of six.

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The museum also has a replica of a Pawnee earth lodge, circa 1830s. This was big enough to be home to more than 30 Pawnee at a time.

A fun thing about living history museums is talking with the interpreters and learning details about the daily lives of the people the museums represent.

At one home we visited, the interpreter pointed out one of the light fixtures. It was both gas and electric. The homeowners were well-off financially and had electricity, but the electric company turned off the electricity at 5 p.m. Then the homeowners used gas (which they made themselves, like acetylene gas) to light their home in the evenings.

In addition to the living history aspects of the museum, the Stuhr Museum also houses collections and archives that are available for researchers.

For more info:

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

Have any of you been to this museum? Another living history museum? What’s the most surprising thing you learned?

2 comments

  1. Mary Louise Sanchez

    Thanks for sharing a living history museum that’s close to Colorado. Another living history museum fairly close by is El Rancho de los Golondrinas near Santa Fe, New Mexico. This was an actual stop along the Camino Real (Royal Road) between Santa Fe and Mexico City. The volunteers dress in early 1700s garb and put one in the colonial mindset of New Spain as you view the long haired sheep; weaving; New Mexican style living quarters, etc. They also have various activities throughout the year, coinciding with the seasons.

    • Deb Watley

      Mary Louise, I would love to visit El Rancho de los Golondrinas! It covers a time period and culture that I’ve had little exposure to! Another museum in Nebraska that is just a few miles closer to Colorado than the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island is the Pioneer Village in Minden, Neb. I’ve never been to it, but my husband visited as a schoolboy.

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