Sod House Museum - Gothenburg, Nebraska - Museum

Sod House Museum is situated as S. Lake Avenue in Gothenburg, Nebraska. It can be accessed via I-80 exit 211, north on Highway 47 for half a mile. The house is open to visitors daily from 9am to 6pm in May and September and 8am to 8pm in June and August.

Sod houses or `soddies' as they were also known were built on the prairies from the sod of thickly rooted prairie grass by the settlers and were forerunners to the log cabins in North America. The sod was used primarily as there weren't standard building materials such as wood or stone on the prairies. The houses were naturally very cheap to build and surprisingly well insulated but were susceptible to damp and even rain damage.

The Sod House Museum is a red barn shaped authentic replica of the sod houses built by early settlers in this region and was established in 1988. The lives and working practices of the settlers is honored here with memorabilia and photographs taken during the pioneer era. The inside of the sod houses were pretty sparse reflecting the hard times experienced by the settlers who lived there.

There is a wooden windmill in an old farmstead setting, life-size barbed wire sculptures of a buffalo and a Native American on horseback adding further realism to the experience here. In the front yard of the museum is one of the world's largest sod-cutting plows, which is one of the few tools the settlers brought west. The visit to the museum also features some impressive barbed-wire art including a life-size buffalo and a horse with a native American rider.

Gothenburg is the hometown of former Dallas Cowboy American Football star Jay Novacek. There is a billboard honoring the NFL player, who attended high school in the town, located right across from the Sod House Museum. Noted for its Swedish heritage, Gothenburg is located in Dawson County and takes its name from Sweden's capital city of the same name after it was founded in 1882 by Olof Bergstrom.

Visitors can travel a little further into town and see one of the stops on the old pony express route, and the original stone building is now a monument featuring a gift shop with some trinkets from the old west. In fact there are two original pony express stations in the city with one moved in 1931 to Ehmen Park in central Gothenburg. The station is open from 8am to 8pm in June and August and 9pm to 6pm in May and September with admission free of charge.

Other attractions in the area include the Swedish Crosses Cemetery, which is located two miles west of Gothenburg and features wrought iron crosses marking the graves of three children of Swedish immigrants. Golfers may like to track down the Wild Horse Golf Club, which is northwest of Gothenburg and highly regarded for its tricky conditions and value for money. Visitors looking for something to eat will find several eateries in Lake Avenue including McDonalds, China Cafy and Randazzle Cafy.

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