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Explore the State Parks & Catch Up On Local History During Your Stay

Do something different with your vacation this year. At Foster's School House in Crawford, Nebraska, we are surrounded by fresh air, state parks, and a variety of local historical attractions. You can go hiking in the forests, stop off at a museum or two, and explore sites tied to Native American history — and to our own past. Make this year's family trip a learning experience and stop off for the night at Foster's School House for comfortable and affordable experience in rural hospitality.

Smiling Boy With Fish

Fort Robinson State Park

Nebraska's largest and most historic state park, Fort Robinson offers a multitude of activities for all ages. The area has a great deal of historical significance, and it is very easy to spend several days there without seeing and doing everything that the park has to offer.

Chadron State Park

Established by the State Legislature in 1919, this is the Nebraska's oldest state park, consisting of 950 acres of buttes and wooded hills in the Pine Ridge area. The entrance to the park is adjacent to U.S. Highway 385, approximately 10 miles south of Chadron. One of Nebraska's most beautiful parks, it was developed in part by the Civilian Conservation Corporation, or CCC.

Museum of the Fur Trade

This museum combines an outstanding collection with the scholarship to interpret the story of the fur trade, from the early colonial days to the present century. The exhibits traces the everyday lives of British, French, and Spanish traders, voyagers, mountain men, professional buffalo hunters, and typical Plains and Woodland Indians. Exhibits include the entire range of trade goods, including munitions, cutlery, axes, firearms, textiles, costumes, paints, and beads.

Dawes County Historical Museum

The Dawes County Historical Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Northwest portion of Nebraska. The Museum Grounds include a log house and barn, 1890s schoolhouse, pioneer church, and C&NW caboose. The 9,000 square foot museum houses an impressive collection of area antiques, including displays of a general store, a hospital room, blacksmith tools, farm machinery, vintage quilts, a railroad room, as well as many other fascinating historically relevant pieces.

Trailside Museum

This museum has paleontology and geology exhibits on Nebraska's rich fossil history. Visitors can see rare fossils from western Nebraska, including a giant mammoth, fossil rhino, and giant tortoise. Visitors can also participate in special demonstrations, such as flintknapping, which is chipping arrowheads. There are often temporary exhibits and art shows as well.

Toadstool Geological Park

Toadstool Park is notable for its unusual geologic formations and scientifically valuable fossil deposits. A one-mile loop trail from the picnic area highlights many examples of eroded clay and sandstone formations. A reconstructed sod house provides a look into the past when homesteaders on the prairies used the only abundant building material available. The area consists of six picnic tables and fire grates, a water pump, and fully accessible vault toilets. Fossils and artifacts are protected by federal laws. A three-mile hiking trail is available from Toadstool Geologic Park to Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed.

Nebraska National Forest, Pine Ridge District

The Pine Ridge Ranger District is located on the northwest corner of the Panhandle of Nebraska. The area is bordered on the west by Wyoming and on the north by South Dakota. The district encompasses 52,000 acres of naturally occurring ponderosa pine trees and mixed grass prairie and includes the 94,000 acre Oglala National Grassland. The Pine Ridge boasts an abundance of wildlife, wildflowers, and picturesque terrain.

Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed

Approximately 10,000 years ago, a herd of 600 bison perished in an area smaller than a football field just northwest of Crawford. The "why" and "how" of their death are still unknown. A visit to the bonebed is a visit to a modern archaeological excavation in progress. Interpretive materials and guided tours help visitors understand why this is such an important discovery.

Belmont Tunnel For Railroad Enthusiasts

The Belmont Tunnel south of Crawford is the only railroad tunnel in the state of Nebraska. It is a 750-foot long tunnel carved through solid rock by the Burlington line circa 1888-1890. Railroad enthusiasts from all over the Midwest come to observe the engines pulling up the Crawford-to-Belmont grade. This 10-mile grade is one of the steepest in the Midwest.

Native American Historical Sites of Interest

Crow Butte is the site of a legendary battle between the Sioux and Crow Indians in 1849. It is a natural landmark well known to Indians, soldiers, and early cattlemen. One of the best views of Crow Butte is from the Ponderosa Wildlife Management Area.