Dawes County Historical Museum

The Dawes County Historical Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Dawes County and surrounding areas of Nebraska it calls home.

The museum campus includes the 9000 square foot museum and 2 huge exhibit buildings. The campus is also home to a log house & barn, 1890’s school house, pioneer church, and of course, the C&NW caboose, which symbolizes the railroad that came through this area and why the town of Chadron is located where it is today.

Log cabin
Old school house
Dawes County Historical Museum CNW Caboose

Our History

Dawes County Historical Museum is currently located on the site of the original 160 acre farm of Nellie and Lee Card, three miles southwest of Chadron, Nebraska. 

1935 - 1981

Dawes County Historical Society Museum began in 1935, and was known as the Pioneer Society. In 1959 the name was changed to Dawes County Historical Society.

Up until April 16th of 1964, the Society’s activities consisted of a yearly picnic and election of officers. As time went by, interest built and member, Miss Gertrude Lutz, procured the original location of the Museum, a two-story house (the “Schwabe” house) located at 255 Mears St. in Chadron, Nebraska.

In 1970, the farm of Nellie and Lee Card was bequeathed to the Dawes County Historical Society by Newman Card, the last surviving son of his parents.

Dawes County Historical Museum Arial

1981 - Present

The original house was sold and a new, nearly fireproof building was erected on the east side of the Card property near the road.

The contents of the original museum were moved to the new facility in 1981-82. Several buildings and more exhibits have been added to the museum complex since that time. The Dawes County Historical Society has operated the museum ever since.

The resent day see thousands of visitor each year.  Growth is fostered by the new collections are donated to the museum and the yearly “History in Action Day,” that allows visitors to take part in activities from the days of old.

Lee Card

Lee Card

An early resident of Dawes County, Lee was a very religious man. He was a lawyer and a judge as well as farming three miles south of town. He was the father of Newman Card who provide in his will that Dawes County Historical Society should inherit the land for a museum. Lee was buried in Highland Center Cemetery but his wife, Nellie, is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

The Cards lived on the farm from 1910 until bequeathment.

Dawes County Historical Museum is staffed entirely by volunteers, most of whom are members of the Society. We are pleased to invite you to enjoy the museum at no charge.

Our History Awaits Inside

Inside the Dawes County Historical Museum, you will find an impressive collection of area antiques. 

Displays include a general store, hospital room, blacksmith tools, farm machinery, vintage quilts, a railroad room, and much more will immerse you in a time long passed, a simpler time. 

The museum also includes a collection of World War II artifacts relating to Dawes County. 

Meet Our Team

Dawes County Historical Museum is run 100% by volunteers. Their work allows us to continue to share the history of Dawes County, Nebraska. Many thanks to all our volunteers and members. We could not do all we do without each of you.

Board Of Directors


Sharon Rickenbach – President
Roger Wess – 1st Vice President
Mary Ann Schleicher – 2nd Vice President
John Haynes – Treasurer
Lynn Fitzgibblon – Secretary

Farm Council

Dave Carlson
Charlie Kuskie


Phyllis Carlson

Assistant Curators

Linda Rotness
Roxanne Campbell

Research Specialist

Juncie Dagen

Committee Building Chair

Jerry Moss

General Board Members

Jerry Anderson
Rex Cogdill
Bernard Cripps
Sally Katen
Barb McCartney