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relive history, don’t just read about it

If you would like your visit to Valley County to include some of Nebraska’s best Plains history, we have many options for you. Whether you are interested in natural history or Plains history, Valley County has outstanding museums and displays. The area’s main historical landmarks engage you in history in exciting ways. You can experience life at a fort in the late 1800s, remember an aviation pioneer, or engage with a one-of-a-kind chalk mine.

Evelyn Sharp Airfield 

Built in the 1950s, this airstrip was named after Evelyn Sharp who graduated from Ord in 1937. At one time, Sharp was the youngest person in the US to earn her transport license and fly a plane. During World War II, Sharp enlisted in Womens Airforce Service Pilots transporting planes coast to coast. She also flew the first mail plane to Ord. Sharp was killed during takeoff from Pennsylvania in 1944. In 2010, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously for her pioneering spirit in aviation.

Fort Hartsuff

Located near Elyria, Fort Hartsuff is typical of Plains infantry outposts. It stood as a buffer between settlers and Indians in the North Loup River valley from 1874-81. One of America’s more complete Plains infantry outpost has been restored to the glory of a time when people followed the trails through the area in search of the Black Hills’ gold or Manifest Destiny. On most major summer holidays, history comes alive at Fort Hartsuff as staff in period dress offer living history presentations.

Happy Jack Peak & Chalk Mines 

A visit to Nebraska’s only underground adventure allows you to view one of only two diatomic mines in the country. The “chalk’ material originally used for building material later became mined for other purposes, such as a filler for paint. The peak of Happy Jack is a bluff with a looped hiking trail to the top. Below the peak is a honeycomb of passages comprising the chalk mines.

Valley County Museum

An excellent display of historical artifacts and archives, the museum covers the settling of Valley County through modern activities in the area. See exhibits that tell the history of the Nebraska Great Plains, the Dust Bowl and an aviation pioneer.

Loup Rivers Scenic Byway

Taking its name from the Loup River system, called the “Ladder of Rivers,” because three branches of the rivers flow west to east forming a ladder. Loup means “wolf” from French trappers who met the Skidi or Wolf band of Pawnee. Along the road, the rugged grasslands turn to “storm-tossed sea covered with grass.” In an area where cows outnumber people, you can escape the hustle of home along the byway’s stops. The area, which sits atop the Ogallala Aquifer, is sprinkled with small, spring-fed lakes to satiate numerous types of wildlife and wildflowers.


History Photo Gallery


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