Described by the Miami Herald as a “splashy, brassy history museum that uses film, computer graphics, light and sound, life-size dioramas, re-enactors and classic cars to document over 150 years of transportation and communication across America.” The Archway brings the westward migration to life.
An adventure that links our nation, that will transport you back in time to an era when covered wagons, hand-pulled carts, and trains first criss-crossed the prairies. The Great Platte River Road Archway is an interactive adventure that pays tribute to the pioneers who passed through Nebraska on their way West. These entrepreneurs were shaped by what they saw and experienced, and they have given America a heritage that is a living spirit that molds our nation’s character today.
What will you witness in the Archway? The thrill of an arriving Pony Exprss 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 becomes an adventure for you to share!
The Great Platte River Road Archway is a bridge 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, the outstanding Chuckwagon Restaurant, a premiere gift shop that offers a variety of Nebraska-made products and a selection of themed items that will appeal to all.
Our staff, dressed in clothing of the period, 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 to the West Coast. 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. Nobody 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 Great Platte River Road 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 today links a nation.
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 the 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. A total of 10 exterior materials was used: Cor-Ten structural steel, stainless steel, aluminum, log siding, faux stone, Exterior Insulated Finish System, metal roofing, Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer roofing, glass and copper.
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 10pm and culminating at 6am, 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.
- 360 feet of fiber optics are utilized in the entry movie
- Twenty-four life size cast figures appear in the show
- Faces on the cast figures were cast from real people, often the family and friends of the artists
- Total of 89,000 blades of grass appear throughout the show
- An authentic 1914 Model T Ford car is featured at the beginning of the Lincoln Highway exhibit
- An authentic 1927 Oldsmobile car is showcased in the Lincoln Highway exhibit
- An authentic 1961 Cadillac convertible is showcased in the drive-in exhibit