Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park is a preserved military outpost located in central Nebraska, about 8 miles to the north of Burwell.
Established in 1874, the fort served as a supply base and command center for U.S. Army troops engaged in protecting the overland trails and settling the region.
Today, the park offers visitors a glimpse into life on the western frontier during the late 19th century. The fort’s original buildings, including the officers’ quarters, barracks, commissary, and guardhouse, have been carefully restored and furnished with period-appropriate items, providing a vivid depiction of what life was like for soldiers stationed at the fort.
Additionally, the park regularly presents interpretive exhibits, living history demonstrations, and special events.
These offer visitors a hands-on experience of the daily routines and challenges faced by the soldiers, their families, and the civilians who lived and worked in and around the fort.
For this reason, if you are a history buff or just interested in the settlement of the American West, this Nebraska state park is a ‘must visit’ destination.
Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park is a captivating place to learn about the history of the fort and the development of the Great Plains in general.
Outlined below is a selection of some of the main highlights you can look forward to.
Restored Buildings at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park
Visitors to Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park can explore a variety of restored buildings from the original fort, including barracks, officers’ quarters, a powder magazine, a blacksmith shop, and a commissary.
The buildings have been meticulously restored to their original condition, complete with period furnishings, allowing visitors to experience what life was like for soldiers stationed at the fort in the late 1800s.
Guided tours of the buildings are available, led by knowledge staff who are only too happy to answer any questions you may have about the structures.
Grounds at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park
As well as the guided tour, park guests can also explore the grounds of the fort.
These grounds include a parade area, flagpole, and a cemetery where many soldiers and their families are buried.
The parade area was used for military drills and exercises, and visitors can still see the remnants of the foundation of some of the buildings that once surrounded it. The flagpole was a prominent feature of the fort, and visitors can imagine the soldiers raising and lowering the flag each day.
By contrast, the cemetery is a peaceful spot where visitors can pay their respects to those who served and lived at the fort.
Living history demonstrations & events at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park
At various points throughout the year, the park offers visitors the opportunity to experience living history demonstrations and related events.
Providing viewers with a unique and immersive experience, these events feature costumed interpreters who personify the daily life of soldiers stationed at the fort during the 1870s.
During these presentations, attendees can observe demonstrations of military drills, as well as other activities like cooking, blacksmithing, and laundry. For those who really want to get ‘hands on’ they can also partake in candle-making and butter-churning.
Some of the special events that are held throughout the year, include the annual Independence Day celebration. The highlights of this event comprise a parade, period music, and a flag-raising ceremony.
Fishing at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park
If you are into fishing it’s worth bringing your equipment along with you because the park is quite close to the Middle Loup River.
After visiting the park, the scenic river provides a serene and beautiful spot to cast a line. You can do this on the riverbank or from a boat out on the water. Conveniently there is a boat ramp that provides easy access to it.
Visitors who want to fish will need to ensure they have a valid Nebraska state fishing licence to do so. However, if they have managed to secure one, they will have plenty of opportunity to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, and channel catfish. All of which bite on a regular basis.
Nature & Wildlife
Being in a rural location, surrounded by a mix of agricultural land and natural habitats like grasslands and wetlands, Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park is a good place to spot wildlife.
Some of the common wildlife species you can see in the area include deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, and several different bird species.
To give you the best chance of viewing them, it might be worth bringing your binoculars with you to the park.
Pets are allowed to join you at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park, however there are certain conditions on their presence you should be aware of.
This includes them being restrained and kept well behaved on a handheld leash that does not exceed 6 feet in length.
It also involves pet owners cleaning up their mess and disposing of it responsibly.
For a full summary of the park’s pet policy it is worth contacting the staff at the main office.
While there is no camping available directly onsite at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park, there are some very good campgrounds within easy drive of it.
Sherman Reservoir State Recreation Area, located about 10 miles from the park, is one of the closest, and offers camping with both RV and tent sites.
All up this campground has 81 campsites that feature electric hookups, showers, and modern restrooms. There is also a dump station, playground, and picnic area available too for guests to use.
In addition to Sherman, there are several other campgrounds and RV parks in the area that offer camping and RV facilities.
One of the more notable is the Cottonwood Ranch and RV Park, which is renowned for providing guests with accommodation options that represents excellent value for money.
Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park
82034 Fort Ave
Burwell, NE 68823
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park:
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