Travel the Heritage Trail
Learn more about the people and events that shaped Washington County through interpretive signs located at historic locations along The Washington County Heritage Trail self-guided tour.
Step Back in Time With Us
The history of Washington County is as rich and varied as its people.
Our history starts with fur trading posts, Native tribes, and Lewis & Clark, who held their first meeting with the Otoe here. Fifteen years later Fort Atkinson was established, the first military presence west of the Missouri River. Home to the 6th Infantry and housing over 20% of the United States Army, this outpost on “earth’s remotest bounds” became the site of the first school, library, hospital and large-scale agricultural operation in what would later become the state of Nebraska. Fort Atkinson projected the might of the military into the growing fur trade and kept the peace with local tribes. Within a few years, Brigham Young established a farming operation here called “Summer Quarters” to feed the influx of Mormon emigrants, using the bricks and land once used by the frontier army. The door to western settlement flew open and within a few years, towns such as De Soto, Rockport, Cuming City and Fort Calhoun were being platted and families were establishing homes and businesses.
These early settlers and pioneers built on what was before them, just as we have built on what they did. The Washington County Museum was established to preserve the history of these early pioneers and to honor their memories.
The Washington County Museum has been operating since 1925 in the heart of historic Fort Calhoun, just a short drive on Highway 75 north of Omaha. We are caretakers of the oldest county museum in the state, housed in the historic Fort Calhoun State Bank building. See artifacts from the excavation of Fort Atkinson, then go 3 blocks east to tour the rebuilt fort and 1820’s military life.
See the history of this county that welcomed famous mountain men, Mormon Pioneers, and early homesteaders to Nebraska. The museum tells the story through Lewis & Clark’s visit here, Native American artifacts, military relics, and stories of the early pioneers.
Researching your ancestors from Washington County? Our library contains thousands of genealogical records, old newspapers and maps, court records and more. We can assist you with your family records.
While you are here, visit the 1905 Frahm House and see the story of the Frahm Family, early Fort Calhoun pioneers. This lovely Victorian Home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is available for tours by appointment and for rental. Whether you are a Nebraska native wanting to see something new, or an out-of-state traveler looking for historic stops, call us today and we can help make your visit a step back in time.
Preserve the past - enhance the present - connect with the future
T – F: 9 to 5
Saturday: 9am – 1pm
Frahm House: By Appointment