STUHR MUSEUM

By Staff
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John Deere D parked outside the museum.
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Good-looking Heider with a Wallis beside it.

E2762 County F, Kewaunee, Wisconsin 54216

Stuhr Museum tells the colorful, inspiring story of the prairie
town builders. Here are the buildings which once stood in prairie
towns. Here is the railroad which brought the immigrants from the
east. Here are the stories and the memories of the residents who
shared a vision for the future. My wife and 1 spent a week at the
Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska with an Elderhostel group.
While there we became acquainted with Dale Clark, who was one of
our instructors for the Elderhostel course of study. He is also
connected with the Stuhr Museum, located about forty miles away
from Minden. When Mr. Clark, who is the educational director for
the museum, found out about my special interest in old tractors, he
very graciously invited us to see the museum, even though it was
closed for the season. Consequently, we spent most of a morning
there during which time he opened the buildings for us.

The antique farm machinery building was, of course, the one
building that interested me most. A two million dollar collection
of superbly restored tractors is housed there. I guess that the
only thing that I could find wrong with the exhibit was that the
tractors were too close together to enable my taking good pictures!
This 200-piece exhibit includes an 1880 threshing machine, early
steam engines, more than one hundred tractors (no two alike), and
numerous examples of horse- and tractor-drawn implements. All of
the tractors are in running order and are painted in authentic
colors. We saw a Wallis, Heider, Titan, Case, Oil Pull, Avery, and
John Deere, to name just a few. There were several steam engines,
even about a one-third scale model Case. My time was well spent in
just looking!

Southeast of the main building is Railroad Town, Nebraska; a
recreated prairie community which tells the story of town building
and community development in Nebraska during the last decades of
the nineteenth century. Sixty century-old shops, homes and other
structures were moved to the site and restored. During the summer,
the business district bustles with activities reminiscent of
Nebraska’s colorful past. Three historic homes grace the
town’s residential area. Included is the cottage from Grand
Island where Henry Fonda was born in 1905.

The Nebraska Midland Railroad, Nebraska’s only operating
turn-of-the-century steam train, takes a nostalgic ride across the
museum’s 200 acres of rolling prairie land. Climb aboard at the
Railroad Town depot or at the Buffalo Junction whistle stop
southwest of the main museum building. The railroad portrays the
major ‘town builder’ across the prairie from the 1860’s
through the 1890’s. This journey back in time aboard the 1897
coach views a Pawnee Indian lodge, a buffalo preserve, and the
developing communities of Ovina, Runelsburg, and Prairie City. East
of the main building, a complex of eight log structures built
between 1857 and 1867 interprets early Hall County settlements
which lay along the pioneer trail. At some of these settlements,
also known as road ranches, westward-bound immigrants paused to
rest, buy provisions, and water and feed their stock.

So you can see that there is plenty to see, even if you are not
as interested in old tractors as I am! But the tractors, to me, are
the best part of the museum. I can heartily recommend the Stuhr
Museum of the Prairie Pioneer to everyone as a very good experience
and a great place to stop!

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