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.

2019 Washington County Gives!

Tuesday, November 27 is the second-annual Washington County Gives! event.  This is a partnership effort between the Blair Area Community Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce.  Similar to Omaha Gives, its purpose is to establish a focused day of giving to support our community’s non-profits.  Go to www.WCNEGives.org to learn more or to make an

2019 Historic Picture Calendar

Fort Atkinson’s Bicentennial 1819-2019  “Then and Now” 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 Fort Atkinson to celebrate their bicentennial.  The calendar will highlight the fort’s early history, its

Christmas in Calhoun

Saturday, December 8 All day activities in town for young and old.  Join us at the museum from 10-12 for pioneer craft activities for the kids.  The historic Frahm House will be beautifully decorated and open for tours from 12-4 pm on Saturday, December 8 and Saturday, December 15.  A complete list of events will

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

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

What is it?

We have a lot of old and unusual items in our museum collection. Here’s a chance to test your history knowledge – or your memory – and see if you know what these items are, or who is in the picture. Our curator, Faith, will post a photo of something every couple of weeks. It

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