Nebraska Map

Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway

Basics
Length:
400 miles (643.7 km)
Time:
8 hours

Description

America's Main Street, the Lincoln Highway, was the first paved coast-to-coast roadway, spanning 3,380 miles through 13 states, connecting New York to San Francisco and all the towns in between.

In 1915, the Lincoln Highway was a bold, innovative plan, mapped across the U.S. yet years from being fully paved. There were sections of dirt, sand and even pasture crudely marked only by posts, poles and hand-written signs.

But once the idea of traveling independently became a reality there was no holding America back. The freedom of the open road was intoxicating and for five decades, before the development of the Interstate system, the Lincoln Highway was indeed America’s very busy Main Street, with Nebraska right in the center.

In 2006 the Nebraska Department of Roads approved the extension and renaming of the Platte River Scenic Trails Byway to the Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway. The byway now stretches from the western Wyoming/Nebraska border eastward through Nebraska on US 30. This byway passes through the Elkhorn area near Omaha, and ends in Blair, Nebraska, near the Iowa border. It follows the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, Pony Express Route, Union Pacific Railroad and the Historic Lincoln Highway, and parallels Interstate 80 from the Wyoming border east through the Grand Island area.

Interesting sites along this byway in Nebraska include the following: Lake McConaughy with 100 miles of white sandy beach; Boot Hill Cemetery in Ogallala (a booming cow town in the 1800s); the world-famous outfitter, Cabela's; the home of Buffalo Bill Cody; the world's largest railroad freight yard, the Union Pacific Bailey Yards; a restored Pony Express station that was used when pony riders carried "lightning fast" mail; a museum of military vehicles dating from WWII; the Great Platte River Road Archway; the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer; the original brick highway at Elkhorn; Nebraska's largest art museum, the Joselyn Art Museum; the Henry Doorly Zoo with the world's largest indoor desert, rainforest and nocturnal exhibit; the Nebraska Railroad Museum and Fremont & Elkhorn Valley Railroad; and the Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial, just to name a few.

Today, the Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway gives you glimpses into the past where you can relive some of the adventure when a roadway first linked America from Coast to Coast...and Nebraska from border to border. It's time to rediscover the open road, experience the present and enjoy the Lincoln Highway in Nebraska.

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Bailey Yard (NE)

As a reminder of the railroad era that connected a nation,Bailey Yard in North Platte is the largest railroad classificationyard in the world. This yard covers 2,850 acres and handles about10,000 railroad cars per day. This important hub of Americancommerce sees items bound for cities along the West, East, and GulfCoasts. Coal, corn, sugar, TV's, refrigerators, and steel are onlya few of the goods that pass through Bailey Yard. 2,200 UnionPacific Railroad workers are employed at Bailey Yard doing a numberof tasks such as fixing yard track, servicing trains, or working inthe command center that controls movement through Bailey Yard.Currently, a visitor center is under construction that will presentinformation about the yard. Estimated completion date is in2003.

Directions

NE

Buffalo Bill State Historical Park (NE)

Buffalo Bill Cody settled on a ranch just north of North Plattein 1877. At the time, Buffalo Bill was in the midst of his famousWild West Show, which featured scenes from the "West." Buffalo Billhad ventured into many other occupations before, and after, theWild West Show. He began as a Pony Express rider, at one timeriding 322 miles in 21 hours, 40 minutes and going through 20horses. Once the Civil War broke out, he was still too young toenlist, so he became a ranger, dispatch bearer, and scout inMissouri, Kansas, and the Santa Fe Trail. William F. earned hisnickname of Buffalo Bill when he won a buffalo-hunting contest.

The Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park encompasses 16acres of the 4,000 acres of Buffalo Bill's Ranch or Scout's Rest.The house, barn, and outbuildings are preserved and house BuffaloBill and Wild West memorabilia and artifacts from Chief SittingBull. The three-story Victorian house was built in 1886, and wasthe home for Buffalo Bill, now it is open for the public to seewhat the times were like when this most famous showman lived. Alsolocated at the State Recreation Area are camping facilities, andopportunities are available for horseback riding and craneviewing.

Directions

NE

Cozad (NE)

Cozad is situated on the 100th Meridian, known to geographers asthe dividing line between the humid east and the arid west. Manypeople declare that this is where the West begins, but you can bethe judge of that. Cozad has had an exciting history, one in whichthe founder, John J. Cozad, shot a man over a dispute concerningsome business. This reputation did not deter one of his sons,Robert, from becoming a world-renowned artist. Robert Henri becamea great artist and art teacher in the 20th century and you canvisit the Robert Henri Museum in Cozad. In addition to this wildhistory, Cozad was also situated along the Pony Express Trail andyou can tour a refurnished, original Pony Express station in thetown. Recreational opportunities are also found in Cozad and thesurrounding areas. Both Midway Lake and Gallagher State RecreationArea are located south of Cozad. There is a 9-hole golf course inthe town as well.

Directions

NE

Dancing Leaf (NE)

The Dancing Leaf Cultural Learning Center located in Wellfleettells the story of the early inhabitants of Southwest Nebraska.These people, whom archaeologists called the Upper RepublicanCulture, concentrated on farming and were probably ancestors to thePawnee Indians. An earthen lodge has been reconstructed torepresent the way these people lived 800-1300 years ago. TheDancing Leaf Cultural Learning Center also provides archaeologicalinformation and artifacts in a 90-minute daily tour. The Center islocated along Medicine Creek and is on 115 acres of cedar-coveredcanyons. There is a spring fed lake and many natural springs thatadd to the beauty of the area. Take a step back in time toexperience a simple way of life which is focused on naturalsurroundings.

Directions

NE

Fort McPherson National Cemetery (NE)

Fort McPherson began as a fort that provided protection forsettlers and those building the railroad. In 1863 a nationalcemetery was established at the fort. This National Cemetery thenbecame the resting place of many who had died in the service oftheir country. From the settlement of the West to the Civil War tothe Vietnam War, those who have fallen are honored at the NationalCemetery. Many of those buried at Fort McPherson National Cemeterywere killed as they moved west. Some, such as Lieutenant Gratten,were killed in disputes with the Indians, while others, such asthose of Company F, 3rd U.S. Cavalry, died in natural disasters,such as flash floods. Indian scouts also played an important partof the settlement of the West, and Spotted Horse, a Pawnee Indian,is also buried in the cemetery.

Directions

NE

Gothenburg (NE)

Known as the Pony Express Capital of Nebraska, Gothenburg'shistory has been greatly influenced by the Pony Express Trail whichfollowed the same route as the Oregon Trail. Gothenburg also has astrong tradition of Swedish heritage, evident by the fact that thetown's founder, a native Swede, returned to Sweden to get people tocome back to Gothenburg. This heritage is evident in three historicSwedish Crosses which are located in the Swedish Crosses Cemetery.These unique crosses are decorated with elaborate scrollwork,hearts and stars, and each one has a Swedish inscription of thechildren's names and their dates of birth and death.

Historically, Gothenburg has been an important site and now thetown is home to two remaining pony express stations, the SamMacchette Station, located in Ehmen Park, and the Midway Station.The Sam Macchette Station was used as a trading post/ranch housebefore becoming a pony express station, and it was later relocatedto Ehmen Park. Now a museum tells the story of the pony express andearly settlers. The Midway Station is located just south ofGothenburg and sits on its original site. Also located inGothenburg is the Sod House Museum which features a barn, sodhouse, windmills, and life-sized barbed wire sculptures of abuffalo, horse, and Indian.

There are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors aroundGothenburg. Lake Helen Recreational Area is located at the northedge of Gothenburg and provides opportunities for fishing andpicnicking. The Wild Horse Golf Club located just north ofGothenburg was rated as the No. 3 affordable new golf course in thenation for 1999 by Golf Digest. This golf course is located onrolling sandhills and features 18 greens, wide fairways borderedwith native grass, and 60 bunkers.

Directions

NE

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles (NE)

This museum in Lexington houses more than 60 restored militaryvehicles. The museum is dedicated to preserving historical militaryvehicles, thus when the vehicles are restored, authentic andaccurate paint schemes and insignia are maintained. On display isone of the world's few remaining Downed Airman Retrievers, inaddition to a Bradley fighting vehicle, a rare Snow Tractor, tanks,half-tracks, jeeps, "weasels," ambulances, and trucks. The museumhas added a "Huey" Helicopter and an M-60 Tank. There is a newvisitor center with a gift shop and educational displays.

Directions

NE

Johnson Lake State Recreation Area (NE)

The Johnson Lake State Recreation is located just south ofLexington and is the perfect getaway for travelers. You can accessthe 2,060-acre lake from three separate areas and there are ampleopportunities for boating, fishing, water skiing, or swimming.There are many opportunities to go camping, with electricalhookups, showers, and restrooms. If golf is your game, don't forgetyour clubs because Johnson Lake has an 18-hole golf course. Duringthe spring and fall, Johnson Lake is home to many migrating ducksand geese, and the Platte River is the prime nesting spot forSandhill cranes. The beauty of Johnson Lake State Recreation Areacan also be combined with the outdoor experience of GallagherCanyon State Recreation Area 8 miles south of Cozad which has a400-acre lake and primitive camping. In addition to this, ElwoodLake and Plum Creek area wildlife management areas near JohnsonLake State Recreation Area.

Directions

NE

Lexington (NE)

Lexington began as a trading post along the Oregon Trail. In1864 the Plum Creek Massacre occurred, thus the trading post wasdestroyed and Fort Plum Creek was built. Once the transcontinentalrailroad was completed, the outpost grew into a town as newhomesteaders and ranchers settled in the area. Shortly thereafter,the town was named Lexington after the famous Revolutionary Warbattle.

You can stop in Lexington on your trip on the Platte RiverScenic Trails and enjoy many recreational opportunities. The PlatteRiver Scenic Trails byway follows the Platte River, and thisprovides many opportunities for fishing or wildlife viewing.Lexington is a nesting spot for an estimated 250 bald eagles, andthe migratory route of the Sandhill Crane is also followed by theendangered Whooping Crane. Not far away is Johnson Lake StateRecreation Area and Elwood Lake where you can enjoy boating,fishing, and camping.

In addition to these recreational opportunities, you can visithistorical markers, such as the Oregon Trail Marker, or the DawsonCounty Historical Museum. This museum documents the history of thecounty with different displays, two of which are "Big Al" and"Cattlemen's Exhibit." "Big Al" is 15,000 year-old ColombianMammoth was discovered in the area in 1993, and "The Cattlemen'sExhibit" shows the importance of cattle in the area. The HeartlandMuseum of Military Vehicles is also located just outside ofLexington.

Directions

NE

Lincoln County Historical Museum (NE)

The history of Lincoln County, located in North Platte, isdocumented and displayed at the Lincoln County Historical Museum.In the museum there are period room settings, quilts, fashions,furniture, a post office, beauty shop, model railroad, and manyother photographs and displays. One of the more well known is thedisplay of the WWII Canteen. The Canteen was made up of volunteersthat met U.S. Military trains with food, treats, and hospitality.Also housed at the Lincoln County Historical Museum is a prairievillage. Structures such as a two story log home, aturn-of-the-century town home, church, school, library, and manyother period buildings have been restored and furnished to showwhat life in early Lincoln County and Nebraska was like.

Directions

NE

Details

Length:
400 miles (643.7 km)
Time:
8 hours
Main Roads:
US-30 E

Map + Directions

Customizable Directions


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