Before we went up to Northwest Nebraska, we had made a list of places we wanted to see. The High Plains Homestead almost made the cut, but one of the reasons the location was removed was because I was not exactly sure where the place could be found. But as we were making the gravel drive out to Hudson-Meng Bison Boneyard, suddenly signs informed us that we were almost to the Homestead. I convinced my family to stop, and none of us were disappointed.
Initially I had thought that the High Plains Homestead was merely a place to eat or to spend the night. They were so much more than that. Using the wood from old abandoned buildings as well as rebuilding some of the buildings on site, a new “old” town emerged on the plains. We ended up spending a few hours here (including come back from lunch). We explored much of the town, but there was so much more that I am sure that we missed.
My kids LOVED putting their uncles and aunt into the jail. And they were all good sports and went over AND over AND over again! (Thanks. guys!) The mercantile, schoolhouse and saloon were rebuilt on site using original buildings from the area. The remaining places were built using the lumber from abandoned buildings to maintain the “old” feel that was wanted in the “town.”
Because of their meticulous approach to setting up their homestead, the owners, Mike and Linda Kesselring, have won several awards. I was able to talk to the owners a little bit, although I would have enjoyed talking to them even longer. How they have gone about creating the High Plains Homestead is fascinating. They are continuing to look to expand their “site” and have other notifying them when other area abandoned buildings are available to move that would fit in with their place.
Behind every object is a story. Many items have been donated to the Homestead by families who want to see their history continue to be on display. Our boys noticed the guns (I have to say that I missed them.) They happen to be the owner’s guns from childhood. Evidently when you went to birthday parties or even to get your haircut, you would leave with a cap gun. So his collection is on display – in the sheriff’s office of course.
I appreciate the mission of the High Plains Homestead (taken directly from their website).
High Plains Homestead, LLC is a private, family owned, business dedicated to providing all visitors and customers a quality, rural western experience through good food, hospitality, and education that is inviting, safe, fun, informative and draws an appreciation for the area and the generations of people who have inhabited the NW Nebraska grasslands and badlands.
And the “Dirt Roads” essay on their contact page is definitely worth reading. I hope that we can return to the High Plains Homestead again someday and see all the progress that they will continue to make. And by the way, they serve a mean buffalo burger! (Next time, I want to try the Indian taco though – watching my son eat his plateful confirmed that will be my next selection!) If you are up in Northwest Nebraska, go to the High Plains Homestead. Definitely worth the drive!