By: Mark Foradori
The Trails and Rails museum can be found on 11th Street, said to be the route of the Mormon Trail. Trails and Rails Museum visitors are invited to tour 9 historic buildings packed with authentic antiques, documents and memorabilia of Buffalo County. They have a steam locomotive, too.
At the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture on the campus of the University of Nebraska Kearney you’ll visit one of the first homes in the Great Plains to be wired for electricity. Tour the beautifully restored main floor featuring furniture of the period. Then, see exhibits upstairs that tell the story of the home’s role in the history of the area and display an impressive collection of decorative arts.
Car buffs won’t want to miss the Classic Car Collection, featuring more than 200 classic automobiles from the early 1900s to the modern era. You are sure to recognize cars from your youth and dream cars of the past. You’ll also see historical one-of-a-kind cars that you never dreamed of. They have everything from classic Rolls Royce limousines to “Pete’s Patriot” the AMC drag racer that was built by Peterson Motor Company in Kearney and went on to take the drag racing world by storm in 1969.
The Nebraska Firefighters Museum and Education Center displays an assortment of vintage fire trucks and fire-fighting equipment along with a memorial to Nebraska firefighters who have given their lives in order to save the lives of others.
Families with young children will enjoy a stop at the Kearney Area Children’s Museum, which is filled with hands-on exhibits and activities that children love. Visit the farm, firehouse, grocery store, space ship, art studio, and dinosaur dig, to name just a few of the many exhibits. Be sure to check their website for special events that take place throughout the year.
More than a conventional library, the Kearney Public Library hosts writing and craft workshops, musical programs and activities throughout the year. Their website provides a complete schedule.
And, of course, visitors who want to see one of the natural wonders of the world come to the Kearney area every spring to watch the annual Sandhill Crane migration. The unique habitat in the Platte River Valley attracts over 500,000 migrating cranes to the area every year during the months of February and March. Crane watchers come to Kearney from all over the world to see this stunning natural phenomenon. Visitors to the crane blinds at Rowe Sanctuary near Kearney get the best seats to this annual spectacle but, make your reservations early. Spots in the blinds are limited and they fill up quickly.
Thousands of people who travel I-80 across the country pass by Kearney, Nebraska, every day. Those who stop and explore often find that they are richly rewarded with experiences in arts, culture, history and nature that are rarely found outside of big metropolitan areas. Please, don’t just “fly over” Kearney or treat it like a pit stop. Stop and stay for a while. Get to know the area and experience everything that Kearney has to offer. You’ll be glad you did.