Step Back in Time With Us

The history of Washington County is as rich and varied as its people.

Our history starts with fur trading posts, Native tribes, and Lewis & Clark, who held their first meeting with the Otoe here. Fifteen years later Fort Atkinson was established, the first military presence west of the Missouri River.  Home to the 6th Infantry and housing over 20% of the United States Army, this outpost on “earth’s remotest bounds” became the site of the first school, library, hospital and large-scale agricultural operation in what would later become the state of Nebraska. Fort Atkinson projected the might of the military into the growing fur trade and kept the peace with local tribes.  Within a few years, Brigham Young established a farming operation here called “Summer Quarters” to feed the influx of Mormon emigrants, using the bricks and land once used by the frontier army. The door to western settlement flew open and within a few years, towns such as De Soto, Rockport, Cuming City and Fort Calhoun were being platted and families were establishing homes and businesses.

These early settlers and pioneers built on what was before them, just as we have built on what they did.  The Washington County Historical Association was established to preserve the history of these early pioneers and to honor their memories.

The Washington County Historical Association has been operating since 1925 in the heart of historic Fort Calhoun, just a short drive on Highway 75 north of Omaha.  We are caretakers of the oldest county museum in the state, housed in the historic Fort Calhoun State Bank building. See artifacts from the excavation of Fort Atkinson, then go 3 blocks east to tour the rebuilt fort and 1820’s military life.

See the history of this county that welcomed famous mountain men, Mormon Pioneers, and early homesteaders to Nebraska. The museum tells the story through Lewis & Clark’s visit here, Native American artifacts, military relics, and stories of the early pioneers.

Researching your ancestors from Washington County? Our library contains thousands of genealogical records, old newspapers and maps, court records and more.  We can assist you with your family records.

While you are here, visit the 1905 Frahm House and see the story of the Frahm Family, early Fort Calhoun pioneers. This lovely Victorian Home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is available for tours by appointment and for rental.  Whether you are a Nebraska native wanting to see something new, or an out-of-state traveler looking for historic stops, call us today and we can help make your visit a step back in time.

Our Latest News & Events

To see more of our Latest News and Events, click below.

WCHATs: Amazing Stories of World War II Nurses

Join us for a lecture by Carol Kuhfahl on September 11 at 6:30 pm at the Blair Public Library. Hear stories about these heroic women who served their country on the front lines of World War II. Their medical training, ingenuity and organizational skills pioneered major changes in treatment methods for the ill and wounded,

Washington County Heritage Days The Washington County Heritage Days event is coming up October 6&7 at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park.  Start the day with a pancake breakfast at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, enjoy the parade in town, then head on over to the fort for a day of music, food, antique tractors, living history demonstrations,

Recordings of Past WCHAT speakers

Over the past couple of years, the museum has had a few speakers at our “Washington County Historical Association Talk Series” (WCHATs) that were recorded and aired on KIOS public radio.  Archives to these talks can be accessed by clicking on the links below. ****Monday, November 28, 2016 – WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION LECTURE –

Does your group need a place to hold a meeting?

  Washington County Civic groups, churches, clubs and other organizations are welcome to use the museum for meetings, social gatherings or other events.  The museum library holds 4 conference tables that roll into any configuration needed to accommodate your needs.  The Frahm House is also available for use and contains a working kitchen, table settings

2018 Historic Picture Calendar: 100 Years of the Washington County Fair

Once again we are partnering with the Blair Historic Preservation Alliance to produce a beautiful keepsake calendar featuring images and stories from Washington County’s past.  This year, it is a collaborative effort with the 100 Year Fair Board to feature a history of the Washington County Fair.  See wonderful images of the fairground in its

Images of America: Washington County by Kathy Buhrman

Now Available Just published in October 2017 by Arcadia Publishing and authored by Kathy Buhrman, this book features the story of Washington County’s history.  Filled with historic photos, you’ll see the early pioneers, developing communities, growth of schools, churches and farms.  See towns that have grown and towns that have been lost to history.  Books

Contact us

Washington County Historical Association
102 N. 14th Street
P.O. Box 25
Fort Calhoun, NE 68023

Washington County Historical Association PO Box 25 Fort Calhoun, NE 68023
Museum Hours

Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed
T – F: 9 to 5
Saturday: 9am – 1pm
Frahm House: By Appointment