Posts Tagged With: Crawford NE

Toadstool Geologic Park: Unexpected Landforms in Nebraska

For many people, their Nebraska experience has been only traveling through along Interstate 80.  Still beautiful land, but these flat long stretches only tell part of the story of Nebraska’s landscape.  Only in going around to many regions does one truly understand what makes up Nebraska’s landscape.  One such place of rarely seen beauty is Toadstool Geologic Park.

Toadstool Park 1

Some of have compared this destination as to what it might be like to be on the moon.  With better air quality of course. 🙂

Toadstool Park 2

Hiking about is fairly easy on their well marked trails.  If you are in good physical shape or are a climber, you could even forge your own path.

Toadstool Park 7

A dry creek bed is another good place to wander and experience the park.  Evidently if it rains, you need to abandon that path fairly quickly.  The water could move you along faster than you intended on traveling.

Toadstool Park 3

One other fun place to explore is the sodhouse that was moved on to the property.

Toadstool Park 5

This gave me an idea as to what being an early Nebraska settler possibly would have been like.  During the summer, hot and blistering would have been the feel.  During the winter, you would have been stuck.  In fact, even today, this part of Nebraska basically shuts down as roads can quickly become impassable.  You were truly hardy to live in this country.

Toadstool Park 4

Diagrams help to visualize the effort needed to construct this house.

Toadstool Park 6

The interior was surprisingly sunny.  Obviously you also would have had great views of this interesting landscape.

Toadstool Park 8

Exploring this region is something I hope we can do again when our kids are a bit older.  This time two of them stayed in the car with other family members and did not really even get to explore.  Partially due to the heated temperatures that day, but the distance between two points is a bit longer than it seems like it should be as well.  You do want to bring with water and sunscreen!  To camp overnight, the cost is only $5, and the day usage fee is $3.  Well worth it for the adventures that can entail!


Categories: Family Outings, Panhandle, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback Friday: Officer’s Quarters at Fort Robinson in Northwest Nebraska

While much is known about the history of Fort Robinson, not as much is documented on the particular families that stayed there.  Especially in the Officer’s Quarters.  At least I should say the information is not readily available.  Maybe that is a research project for another time … But I will share what I know and hopefully give you a glimpse of the military housing for families from long ago.

Fort Robinson Officer's Row

This was before.  The initial place where officers and families lived for the first few decades the fort was open.

Fort Robinson Officer's Quarters Side View

This is after.  I am sure that if any families actually were there when the transition was made they had to had definitely felt like they were “moving on up” but to the west side, as these house were located at the end of the western edge of the parade ground.  These new houses were known as the “officer’s bricks” and were actually large duplex.  More than ample space to house a family.

The one we stayed in had a sunny kitchen, a dining room that easily seated 10-12 people, a living room and library area (which is currently a bedroom) and a bathroom.  The second floor had four bedrooms and two bathrooms.   The third floor had two more bedrooms and and an additional two bedroom and one bathroom.  We think that was probably where the help stayed.  You could not have easily ran this household without servants or hired help!

Fort Robinson Soldier Staircase

The home also had two sets of staircases.  Beautiful white woodwork is found throughout the home.  While there has perhaps been a bit of restoration, for the most part the house is just as it was a century ago.  I must say that I loved the historic element.

My only partial disappointment … that I did not take more interior pictures.  My photos are rather random – I think because we “lived” there.  So many of my shots include people which are definitely the ones I want to keep in the long run anyway.  But here are a few glimpses of the decor …

Fort Robinson officer rooms

Fireplaces graced every room – more for function than for beauty.  I would imagine winter is a bit chilly in Northwest Nebraska.  The decor featured borders with a Western motif.  Soldiers photographs and stories were on the walls and mantels, adding authenticity to the history.

I imagined a story behind every corner.  Wondered what it would have been like to raise children on the wild frontier.  Pondered about missing comforts from home.  Thought about just how many people filled the walls.  Concluded that probably many a mom has called out “Please stop running through the halls and up & down the stairs” just like I did.  Recognized that the rooms had housed many a family with many a tale.  While I wish I had more concrete details, I do think that part of the beauty of the place is all that is left untold.

Fort Robinson group picture

Our own stories were written during the meaningful days spent at Fort Robinson!

P.S. Congratulations to my Dad for guessing correctly where we were from my “Wordless Wednesday” post this week.  Since he and my mom graciously took care of our housing for the week, it seems fitting that he would recognize my pictures.  Thanks to both of them for investing in family memories!

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Nebraska History, Panhandle, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Huskers at the Corners: Where to Watch Football in Northwest Nebraska: MJ’s Ranch House

If you have ever been to Fort Robinson, you would know that television is not a part of the package.  Normally that is a blessing – provides for lots of family time.  But, when one of the first Nebraska football games of the year is on, what is a person to do in …

Ranch House Crawford

Northwest Nebraska has lots of wide open spaces.  And not quite as many diehard Husker fans, being the fact that they are many hours away from Lincoln.  We called around and finally discovered the perfect place for our family to watch the game.

Ranch House signs

MJ’s Ranch House Steaks and Spirits located in downtown Crawford.  We already had supper planned for back at our cabin, but we enjoyed eating lots of game food.  Appetizers like onion rings and chicken strips and breaded cauliflower.

MJ’s family has owned a ranch in the Crawford area for many generations.

Ranch House Ranch Photograph

Their restaurant is a tribute to much of what makes this part of Nebraska beautiful!  Being located in a renovated building adds charm to the ambiance.  Originally the building was a general store.

Ranch House Original Building

Their decor reflects their family and area longtime history.  Every corner tells a story.  I forgot to watch much of the game because of being distracted by all of their treasures.  The owner was in that day and kindly took the time to tell me some stories of her family history and the area.  Loved listening to her!

Ranch House History Collage

As with any of life’s experiences, who is with you is what really matters.  Being with my family was the best part of the experience.

Ranch House family

(My brother and his lovely wife were with as well.  I am sure I took a picture of them, but who knows what happened to that?)

I just called and talked to Mary Jane, the sweet owner, and she confirmed that they will definitely be open to serve you.  So, if you are in the Northwest Nebraska area, I would highly encourage you checking out MJ’s Ranch House to watch the Huskers.   Great food, great atmosphere and (should be) a great game.

Categories: Cornhusker Cuisine, Eating Establishments, Panhandle, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Photography: Homestead High Plains in Black & White

B & W mercantile

B & W wagon ride

B & W saloon

B & W wall display

B & W Homestead town

B & W school

High Plains Homestead near Crawford, NE

Categories: Friday Photography, Nebraska History, Nebraska Passport, Panhandle, Passport Pursuit Programs, Photography, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: