Kearney Nebraska (pronounced “Carney”) was named for nearby Fort Kearny, which
was a nineteenth-century United States Army outpost and fort built to protect
the wagon trains along the Oregon Trail during the great westward migrations
across the state during the mid 1800s. It appears the extra “e” in the town’s
name was a postal service misspelling that stuck. The town, located on the Platte
River along Interstate 80, marks the approximate halfway point of the continental
United States between Boston
and San Francisco.
This is at mile 1,733, and there is a housing subdivision in the town called
the 1,733 Estates. There are many things to do in Kearney Nebraska as well Kearney
events to attend.
Kearney travel was something done by virtually every pioneer who traveled westward on the Oregon Trail. From 1843 to 1869, nearly half a million people rode and walked the trails to the west, carrying all their worldly possessions in Conestoga wagons and battling numerous hardships along the way. This rich pioneer history is celebrated at the Great Platte River Road Archway that spans Interstate 80 a couple miles outside of town. Life-sized dioramas, sound and light shows, and re-enactors bring this part of American history to life. Special Kearney events are held here throughout the year, including a June Native American Pow Wow showcasing the traditional Native American dancers of the Great Plains, an annual Cruise Night with hundreds of antique and classic cars, a spring Jamboree, and a celebration of the arrival of the migrating Sandhill cranes.
You can also enjoy Kearney travel when you visit Fort Kearny State Historical Park, where the stockade and fort, Pony Express depot, parade grounds, and blacksmith shop have been restored. This Kearney Nebraska park has camping sites, river access for fishing, and more than five miles of hiking trails. At Pioneer Village, you will find more than 50,000 historic items on display. There is also camping here, as well as the Kearney hotels.
Right in the town are other Kearney Nebraska attractions to enjoy. One of four
of the University of Nebraska campuses is located here (the others are in Lincoln
and Omaha). In addition to the
many Kearney events and concerts that occur on campus, you will find here the
state’s official art museum (MONA – the Museum of Nebraska Art) located in
a lovely 1911 Renaissance revival building. On campus is the Frank House, a
mansion built in 1889 with a ten-foot high Tiffany stained glass window and
on the National Register of Historic Places. Both of these museums are open
to the public. Also in town is a Trains and Rails Museum, chronicling the history
of transportation in the region.
If your Kearney travel brings you here, you will find numerous parks and nearby
fishing lakes as well as several golfing
venues. Nearby Cottonmill lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill,
crappie, catfish and northern pike. One of the state’s wineries
and two breweries crafting fine micro brews are also located here. Because this
is a university town, you’ll find a wide variety of dining
venues and a surprisingly rich amount of nightlife.