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Interior section of the west ramparts at Fort Atkinson.

Interior section of the west ramparts at Fort Atkinson.

America is blessed with plenty of fascinating army related sites, but one you should definitely try and visit, if you can, is Fort Atkinson State Historical Park.

Situated in the small Nebraskan city of Fort Calhoun, it is home to one of the first United States Army forts established west of the Missouri River.

Constructed in 1819 it only served as a trading post and military outpost until 1827. However, it played a significant role in the history and development of western United States.

This Nebraska state park features several reconstructed buildings, including a barracks, powder magazine, and sutler’s store. Today, visitors can take guided tours of the fort and these other structures to gain a greater understanding of its legacy.

In addition to guided tours, the park also hosts living history events and demonstrations throughout the year. These include musket firings and blacksmithing demonstrations that are well worth checking out.

Activities

A visit to Fort Atkinson State Historical Park is a great way to learn about Nebraska’s rich history and culture.
Here is some further information about what to expect whilst you are there.

Touring the fort at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park

Touring the fort at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park is a unique and educational experience.

Led by knowledgeable park staff dressed in period clothing, visitors can take guided tours of the historic structure.

These guides provide fascinating insights into the daily life of the soldiers that were stationed there.

The tours take in the fort’s reconstructed buildings, including the barracks, officer’s quarters, and powder magazine.

In addition, visitors can also explore the fort’s grounds and view exhibits showcasing the fort’s history and significance in the development of the American West.

Living history events and demonstrations at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park

Throughout the year, living history events and demonstrations take place at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, which offer visitors a hands-on experience of the fort’s history.

During these performances, the park hosts reenactors who dress in period clothing and demonstrate various activities from the early 19th century. These include musket firings, blacksmithing, and cooking demonstrations.

Visitors can participate in these activities and learn about the skills and tools used by soldiers and civilians living at the fort.

The park also hosts special events, such as the annual Independence Day celebration and the Fur Trade Days festival, which features fur traders, Native American dancers, and other historical reenactors.

These family-friendly events provide a fun and engaging way for visitors to learn about and appreciate Nebraska’s history and culture.

Fishing at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park

If you intend to visit Fort Atkinson State Historical Park then don’t forget to bring your rods and reels with you.

The park is located near the Missouri River, which offers excellent opportunities for those who fancy casting a line.

This waterway is teeming with bass, catfish and walleye, which you can catch from the banks of the river or from in a boat which you can launch from the nearby boat ramp.

As well as the river, there is a fishing pond not too far from the park. It is stocked with bluegill, bass, and channel catfish and is a great option for families with young children or novice anglers.

To fish at either you will need a valid state fishing permit, which can be purchased at the park’s office or online.

Picnicking at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park

Picnicking is a popular activity for visitors to Fort Atkinson State Historical Park.

The park features several picnic areas, including the large picnic shelter near the Visitor Center and several smaller sites scattered throughout the park.

Guests can bring their own food and drinks or purchase snacks and beverages at the park’s gift shop.

Pets

You won’t have to leave your pooch at home to visit Fort Atkinson State Historical Park as pets are welcome there.

However, there are some restrictions you will have to keep in mind.

For instance, dogs must always be kept well behaved on a leash that does not exceed six feet. They must also be vigilant enough to clean up after they have made a mess.

Pets are not permitted in buildings or on designated swimming beaches, unless they are service dogs who can join you anywhere in the park.

Overall, the park’s pet policy is designed to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all guests. For a comprehensive overview of it, contact the park’s main office.

Camping

Fort Atkinson State Historical Park does not have camping facilities on-site, but there are several options for camping nearby for those that need overnight accommodation.

The closest camping option is the Fort Atkinson State Recreation Area, which is less than a mile from the park. It presents 35 campsites that all have electrical hookups, in addition to primitive camping options as well.

These campsites are located near the Missouri River and offer easy access to fishing and water sports.

Another good option is the Two Rivers State Recreation Area. This is located about 10 miles to the southeast of the park and features both RV and tent camping sites. For those who want a more upscale experience they also offer lodges and cabins too.

Whilst at this campground, you’ll also be able to fish in a large lake and partake in hiking, biking, horseback riding and archery.

Other nearby campgrounds to consider are the Riverland Resort and the West Omaha / NE Lincoln KOA Journey. The former offers RV and tent camping sites, as well as cabins for rent, while the latter has RV and tent sites available, as well as standard cabins and deluxe cabins that come with full kitchens.

Park Location

Fort Atkinson State Historical Park
201 S 7th St
Fort Calhoun, NE 68023
Phone: 402.468.5611

Park Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park: