Memorial Day thru Labor Day:
Monday-Saturday 10 am to 6 pm
and Sundays from 1-5 pm
Monday-Friday 1-4 pm

September thru May:

Monday-Friday 1-5 pm
Mondays 1-4 pm


Buffalo County Historical Society
710 West 11th Street
PO Box 523
Kearney, NE 68848-0523





History of the Buffalo County Historical Society

According to legend, the Buffalo County Historical Society was first organized in the 1920’s under the leadership of Samuel Bassett of Gibbon. This was the same man who had come to the county with the Gibbon Homestead Colony in 1872, had written many columns in the newspaper about various aspects of the history of the county and in 1915 was the author of the two-volume History of Buffalo County. Unfortunately, present day local historians have been unable to find any record of this organization so it remains just a legend.

The Buffalo County Historical Society was organized (again?) in the 1960’s and even obtained its incorporation papers from the State of Nebraska. The president of the organization died in office, the vice president never got around to calling a meeting and once again the organization faded away.

As the saying goes, “The third time's the charm.” As the city of Kearney prepared to celebrate its centennial in 1972 a dedicated group of people under the leadership of Dr. Phil Holmgren and Alice Howell renewed the incorporation and breathed life into the organization. The Buffalo County Historical Society has been an active organization since that revival. Once the flurry of the centennial celebration was past the organization moved on to other activities. Monthly meetings were held which featured programs about historical events in the county and surrounding area. There were also tours of the county, region and even other parts of the state which are organized and sponsored by the BCHS.

Local historians and members of the college history department were recruited to write articles about historical events and people in Buffalo County and the Buffalo Tales was born. Starting with ten publications a year and now published bi-monthly, this newsletter has been collected and republished in six volumes. Since all issues of the Buffalo Tales are now available on our website, no new volumes are planned. However, all issues are now available on a CD.

With so much history being collected in the form of artifacts and many, many county records when the new courthouse was built and the old one torn down, a home was desperately needed. In 1974, with the generous gift of land from Mr. & Mrs. Jack Hammer, Dr. & Mrs. Francis Richards, and Ruth Dier, Trails and Rails Museum was established at 710 West 11th Street in Kearney and opened the following year. As a member of the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors, Jack Hammer was instrumental in persuading that board to grant funds annually to be used in the operation of the museum. A campaign headed by Alvie Payne a few years later enabled the Society to purchase the lot to the south to extend the site to 10th Street. Several historic buildings have been moved to the site so that now our history is being preserved with these buildings as well as the exhibits within each one.

Next the Historical Society established an Archives to house and preserve the many county records which continue to accumulate. The Historical Society works closely with the Fort Kearny Genealogical Society in answering the many genealogy questions which come our way.

In March 2000 the Society purchased 3.65 acres of land at 910 W 11th St. west of Trails & Rails. The property is a farmstead which includes a house and several outbuildings. The grassland was planted with native prairie grasses and flowers. Plans for developing a farmstead museum were being developed. Then the opportunity arose to trade the part of the land containing the buildings for the land directly west adjoining the Trails & Rails grounds. Watch for future developments and plans.

We invite you to explore the areas which are highlighted here to gain more information about our activities. We also encourage you to contact us by e-mail if you have questions or want more information. If you are traveling through this part of Nebraska, by all means do stop in for a visit.






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