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Spanning I-80 at Exit 275, the Archway offers a unique historical exhibit that brings American history to life and so much more.

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Archway Reenactors Help Bring History to Life

Meet Esther Ullom Butcher

Born and raised in West Virginia, Esther Ullom Butcher traveled west in a covered wagon. With her husband Thomas Jefferson Butcher, she became one of the earliest homesteaders in Custer County, Nebraska. Her son, Solomon would become famous for his photographs documenting the lives of early settlers in the sod houses of Custer County, Nebraska. Meet Esther, as portrayed by her great-granddaughter, Jody Daily, in this tale of life in early Nebraska.

Meet Catherine Jane Langin O’Brien

In this presentation, Mary Stearley tells the story of her great grandmother, Catherine Jane Langin O’Brien. Born to Irish immigrant parents in 1862, Catherine learned to manage a household when her mother died. She was only 13 years old. She left home to teach in a one-room school house in 1885. She married John O’Brien and moved to Ogallala, Nebraska, later that year. Pioneer life was difficult, but Catherine’s close knit family met the many challenges of the era.

Jodi Daily (left) as Esther Ullom Butcher, Mary Stearley (right) as Catherine Jane Langin O'Brien

Meet “Dobie” Smith

Turn back the clock to the era just after Nebraska became a state with this reenactment of the adventures of Dobie Smith. One of the first residents of Plum Creek, now Lexington, Nebraska, H.O. “Dobie” Smith helped to survey the northern part of Nebraska shortly after it became a state. As a surveyor in, what was to him, a new and strange land, Dobie had many adventures. In this presentation by Bob Wallace (Dobie’s great-great son-in-law), he describes his experiences surveying and getting lost on the prairie, his unpredictable encounters with Native Americans, and his tangles with wild life on the trail.

Bob Wallace as "Dobie" Smith

Meet Thomas “Brokenhand” Fitzpatrick

A trail guide and wagon master, Thomas “Brokenhand” Fitzpatrick helped to organize and guide wagon trains of pioneers across the prairie on the Oregon Trail. In this presentation by Ken Tracy, learn about the wagons, the supplies, and the grit that the pioneers needed to complete the 2,000 mile trip to Oregon.  People of daring and determination started the adventure.   Some perished on the trail.  Others reached their goal and built a new life in what for them was a new land.  Hear their story in this lively presentation.

Ken Tracy as Thomas "Brokenhand" Fitzpatrick

Meet Sallie Hester

Sallie Hester was just 14 years old when her family left Indiana and joined a wagon train headed for California. She is the first character that visitors encounter on their Archway adventure and her diaries reveal much about the hope and fears, hardships and joys that she and others experienced on the trail. Kellie Risk portrays Sallie Hester in this presentation that explores the emotions of a young person who is having the adventure of a lifetime.

Kellie Risk as Sallie Hester

Oregon Trail Celebration

Life on the Oregon Trail wasn’t all sacrifice and toil. In the evenings, when the wagons were secure and supper was over, the musical instruments came out and the songs began. In this presentation, join dancer/choreographer Kellie Jo Risk in a trail celebration of traditional music and dance. Students will learn songs and dances of the trail and sing and dance along with Kellie during this lively presentation.

Kellie Jo Risk