Posts Tagged With: Fort Robinson

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

Officer’s Quarters at Fort Robinson in Northwest Nebraska (Thank you, military!)

At first writing about Fort Robinson as being a place to be home for the holidays might seem a bit odd.  After all, other than possibly being open for their annual December historical Christmas dinner, Fort Robinson State Park is basically closed from November through March.  So, the officer’s quarters are shut for the winter.  No holiday decorating taking place in these homes from time past.

Fort Robinson Officer's House

A view of one of the officer’s quarters from a distance.

Yet as I have seen “commercials” on this Christmas, I became more and more convinced that this needed to be my focus today.  You know the video clips where military families from overseas send their greetings?  The ones that often bring tears to my eyes.  Where soldiers and often their families are far from the U.S., so that we can be home for the holidays?  Where we are living in relative peace and safety, and where they are choosing to forgo that privilege, at least for a season.

The setting would have been similar back when these Fort Robinson officer quarters were occupied over one hundred years ago.  The soldiers may have been at “home” for the holidays, yet they were far from their original dwellings to protect the peace of a fledgling frontier.  Sacrificing comfort and security to provide those very things for others.

Tomorrow I will write more about the quarters and the soldiers that called them home.  But for today, I just wanted to say thank you.  To our military, thank you for serving our country and for fighting to ultimately win peace on earth.  Thank you for sacrificing your freedom to provide that very thing that you currently lack.  After all, is there any better time to be grateful than this season?  That first Christmas a young couple were also far from home.  Their sojourn and birth of their son would provide me with the opportunity to find ultimate freedom.  Another undeserved gift and sacrifice.

As I ponder all of this that has been given to me, I cannot help but think of a song that I heard again last night.  The one that, according to Ace Collins in The Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, was written during the midst of war.  1942 – a time when this nation was longing to have hope that conflict would soon be over.  A meaningful song still today as it reminds us to pray that someday everyone will get to be home for the holidays.


Categories: Military and Memorials, 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

Tuesday: Thoughts on Traveling

This week in our homeschool, we have been delighting in Robert McCloskey’s books.  With two Caldecott honor books and two Caldecott medal titles, you can be assured that he is an amazing illustrator and writer.  He did not write a long list of titles, but the ones he wrote are wonderful.  And if you have ever read Blueberries for Sal or Make Way for Ducklings, you have read McCloskey.

(Book cover courtesy of Amazon).

One of his lesser known titles (that also won a Caldecott Medal) is Time of Wonder.  His books are set in New England, the area near his home, but I think McCloskey also manages to convey how I feel about Nebraska.  Several nights  in September I was gone from home – some of them with my family, some with friends.  I could have stayed longer at both places, yet I know that I would have longed to come home soon.  The ending lines of Time of Wonder capture my thoughts on traveling.

A little bit sad about the place you are leaving …

Fort Robinson towers

A little bit glad about the place you are going …

little boys on the porch

It’s a time of quiet wonder.

Mahoney path

P.S. The above porch picture features two of the five reasons I am more than just a little glad to go home!  🙂

Categories: Metro, Panhandle, Recommended Reading, Region or City, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling Together Across Nebraska

Nebraska sunset

Over 1,000 pictures and close to 1,000 miles later, we are home from our Nebraska panhandle vacation.   (And I think I garnered enough topics and photos for at least 30 blogs. 🙂 ) We had a wonderful time, and I am so glad that we were given the opportunity to go!  Here is a wordle representing a few of the places that we experienced.  (To see a bigger version, you can go directly to the wordle site: Western Nebraska Trip.)

We had ventured out west in the company of my Michels family – my parents, my sister & her husband and my brother & his wife.  12 of us staying under one roof.  While there were some moments of crabbiness and bickering (mainly from the children, at least the fighting part! 🙂 ), we really did all enjoy the experience.  I know that it helped that we had 3 vehicle options, so we did not have to be all together all the time.  And our youngest two children were able to stay back a couple of times with the others, allowing our oldest two to have more adventures.  (The youngest did well but did tire of museums and such!)

I had a chance last night to talk to my daughter alone about her impressions of the trip as we were finishing our journey home.  Her favorite part was going fishing with her dad, uncle and brothers.  (For the next few days afterwards, the kids stood out in the open grass area near our rented house practicing casting.  I am sure people driving by were thinking that the kids were deprived since they were not by the lake!)

DSCN5049_1779NE Trip Nikon 13

But then after thinking for a moment, my daughter changed her mind.  She said that her favorite part was that we were all together.  I had to agree.  As much as I especially enjoyed getting to tour and talk to many people across the state, the experience would have been greatly lessened if I had been alone.  Having my family there made all the difference.

DSCN5317_2008NE Trip Nikon 13

Watching the lightning show (amazing what you can see when you are not distracted by television!) 

To my family: I hope you know how much I love each of you!  Thanks for traveling on this journey of life with me!  (And for putting up with me taking a gazillion pictures!)  Glad we were together!

Categories: Frontier Trails, Panhandle, Region or City, Sandhills, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

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