If you have ever traveled through Nebraska on I-80, I’m sure you have seen the giant Kearney Archway in Kearney, Nebraska that stretches above the Interstate. But, have you actually stopped at the Kearney Archway and taken the tour? It’s a Nebraska 2018 Passport stop and this year we decided to finally stop and take the tour (Tip – you get a small discount on admission with the Passport.)
Even if you don’t take the tour, stop and visit their outdoor maze, beautiful trails along the river, and visit the massive gift shop and Visit Nebraska desk inside the Archway (all free to visit.) The Archway is a great place to get out and let the kids play if you need a break during your I-80 road trip. However, if you have time, I highly recommend paying for the museum tour located inside the Archway that stretches over the Interstate.
The Kearney Archway tour is self-paced and guides you through how travel across Nebraska has evolved over the last few centuries. You receive headphones and an audio player and listen to short audio tracks explaining the exhibits as you walk through the museum. There are also signs you can read with more information about the exhibits. So, both auditory and visual learners will gain valuable knowledge from the Archway.
The story begins with the first pioneers and their struggles crossing through Nebraska on the Oregon Trail and other trails. You will hear stories from the diaries of those original pioneers and see the wagons they originally used.
Continue following the tour and learn about the Native Americans in this area, the Gold Rush traffic and the perils of taking a doomed ‘shortcut’. You will be introduced to famous and not-so-famous people in U.S. history that have incredible stories to tell.
Did you know people would pay premium prices to travel on a Stagecoach across the U.S. with as many as 40 people per Stagecoach? This didn’t sound like too many people until I saw an actual Stagecoach and heard Mark Twain talk about his travels. You will also hear the amazing stories from the brave Pony Express runners.
As you progress through the tour, you will see how travel across the U.S. changed when railroads and cars were introduced. Long gone were the days of months of miserable and treacherous travel on horse drawn wagons and stagecoaches. People could now sit comfortably in a train or in their own car and travel to less explored areas of the states.
See how the Lincoln Highway changed the way we travel forever. At the end of the tour you can peek out the windows and see vehicles traveling on I-80 below you.
This tour was an immersive learning experience and my three kids, ages 7, 9, and 12, loved learning about the early pioneers and their stories. It was a fun drive back to Omaha discussing what they had learned. Make the Kearney Archway on I-80 a destination on your next travel adventure, instead of just passing it by as you drive.
Watch more from our visit to the Archway in the video below.
Learn more about the Archway, including museum hours, admission costs, and tips to plan your visit at www.archway.org
Have you visited the Kearney Archway?