In trying to determine what to write about for this #DetourNebraska challenge, determining what posts to write about was fairly easy. While I still have many Nebraska places to write about, I was able to narrow down my choices. But when it came to Lewellen, suddenly I was stuck. Not because I did not enjoy my time there. In fact the opposite was true. While I planned on stopping for an hour or so, I ended up spending several hours in the Lewellen area. I knew I wanted to tell you about one of my Lewellen experiences. But I could not pick. I decided to write a wrap-up post of several Lewellen options. At some point, they might have their own posts. For now, here is the “Best of Lewellen.”
For over one hundred years, the Lewellen area has been a popular spot for travelers. Long ago, many Native Americans called the area home. And pioneers found this spot to be the perfect valley place to recover after traveling up and over the neighboring hills. The name? Ash Hollow This spot was also known for its refreshing spring water. Hidden underneath one hill is a large cave. Here was a shelter for both groups long ago. Through plexiglass, visitors can still peak inside. To preserve history, visitors can no longer explore the cave. A rare stone school sits in its spot from long ago.
At the top of one of the hills sits the visitor’s center. This is basically a small museum where visitors can learn about the importance of this area. Tributes to both the Native Americans and pioneers are found inside. Not all of the history has been good. But many stories have still been preserved. The community takes pride in operating this location. So much information is contained in their exhibits. If you are looking for a primer in Nebraska history, this is a great place to start.
A bit further down the road, you can visit another part of the park known as Windlass Hill. Supposedly at one point, those traveling west had to use some sort of a windlass to get their wagons up the hill. No one is quite sure if that story is actually true. But the tale does sound adventurous. At the base of the hill is a reconstructed sod house. (By the way, the main picture is one that I was honored to have chosen as the 5th best historical marker picture by fans of the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation!)
To get to the top of the hill requires a bit of a hike. But the views are definitely worth it! Along the path, you may catch a glimpse of ruts made from long ago wagons. The stone marker notes the place where the Oregon Trail once passed.
Closer to the town of Lewellen visitors will notice another mark from the pioneers. That is one that was left in the Ash Hollow Cemetery. A young wife took sick with cholera along the Oregon Trail back in 1849. Rachel Pattison did not survive the day. And her husband of several months wanted to make sure that she was remembered. Although over a century and a half has passed, the town still honors and protects her grave.
After all of this history, you will definitely be hungry. This last location is definitely a fun stop. I had been waiting and waiting to visit “The Most Unlikely Place.” In fact, it made my Nebraska bucket list. And I enjoyed going just as much as I thought I would. The artwork lining the walls was wonderful. The bistro food was delicious. And you definitely cannot beat being served on roller skates. The waitress/owner kindly let me film her. Ignore the audio quality, but the video will at least give you and idea of the experience. If you are in the Lewellen area, I highly recommend that you visit. They do close for the winter season and are only open during the day. Possibly call in advance to make sure they are open when you are wanting to visit. A wonderfully delicious experience!
The Best time to visit Lewellen …
I would recommend visiting Lewellen from March through the middle of November. This town is a bit isolated, so you may not want to get stuck in bad weather. Plus I would imagine the snow makes the hilly roads a bit interesting. But whenever you can make it, please go. Lewellen is such a lovely town.
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