About the Archway
Immersing you in stories of the trails, rails and highways that ran along the Great Platte River Road and spurred the westward expansion of the United States, The Archway covers over 170 years worth of American history in meticulous detail. See and hear the stories of the pioneers who traversed the perilous trails. Feel the rumble of the Iron Horse as it connects the American empire and mosey down the Lincoln Highway as you continue along the Great Platte River Road that helped transform a country. It’s a unique experience that’s sure to create unforgettable memories.
What Will You Witness In The Archway?
The thrill of an arriving Pony Express rider, the urgency of declaring war spreading over the telegraph wires, a buffalo stampede, the words and faces of those that lived and died on the route, the building of the railroad, the creation of the first transcontinental road (the Lincoln Highway), and today’s modern transportation system all become an adventure for you to share!
The Archway is a unique structure that pays tribute to the perseverance and ingenuity that developed our wonderfully diverse culture and dynamic American heritage and future. We have wonderful education programs for children of all ages, Chuckwagon Concessions and the Platte River Traders gift shop that offers a variety of Nebraska-made products and a selection of themed items that will appeal to any age.
Our staff will welcome you with smiles and a warm “howdy” when you come to visit. Come and begin your own pioneering experience today!
From 1843 to 1869, nearly half a million men, women and children rode and walked the trails West. The distance was vast, the prairie endless, the sky overwhelming and the mountains and wildlife were unlike anything they had ever seen. These pioneers persevered through a strong will and determination, carrying their cherished belongings in wagons or strapped to burros; and pushed or floated handcarts over mountains, rivers and valleys. Few who took the trip and lived to tell about it, failed to be changed by it. These early pioneers were shaped by what they saw and experienced, and they have provided America a heritage that is a living spirit that molds our nation’s character today.
The Archway pays tribute to the enduring spirit of the pioneers. During their trek across America, they encountered Native American tribes; trappers and traders making their way to annual rendezvous; stagecoach drivers and their passengers; Pony Express riders; and the telegraph. As the early settlers established their homesteads, they witnessed the birth of the railroads, the Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental road; I-80, the nation’s first interstate; and America’s Information Highway, the fiber optic cable that links our nation today.
The design and engineering challenge was determining how to erect a 1,500 ton structure that would cross 308 feet of the heavily traveled I-80, without impeding on traffic flow. It was concluded that the structure had to be built beside Interstate 80 and lifted into position. Since The Archway is to emulate a covered bridge, two towers were erected, one on each side of the road, that served as anchors for the archway bridge to rest. The concrete abutment walls are 60 feet long, 25 feet tall, and 2 feet thick.
The Archway’s exterior is designed to resemble a Nebraska sunset. The stainless steel exterior was specifically treated using electricity charged acid to create the yellow, oranges and reds to tie the exterior color to the region.
The most complex segment of the project was The Archway rollout. The final plan required a 10 hour transport of The Archway using rubber tired, self propelled modular transporters. The roll-out began by vertically jacking The Archway 22.5 feet with hydraulic jacks and resting the structure on temporary cribbing and a horizontal jacking beam. Once on the beam, The Archway was jacked horizontally, 42 inches at a time, onto the SPMTs. This jacking process took a total of eight days.
On August 16, 1999, in an evening full of fanfare and fireworks, the rollout began. Starting at 10:00 p.m. and culminating at 6:00 a.m., weeks of planning and preparation reached a crescendo as The Archway was moved across Interstate 80 on the SPMTs. The Archway was driven to the abutment walls and welded into place.