State Historical Park
211 S. 7th St. | Fort Calhoun, NE 68023
The visitor center at Fort Atkinson SHP is currently undergoing renovations for new and improved displays, which are expected to be completed in spring or summer of 2023. The visitor center is open by appointment only.
One of the earliest U.S. military posts west of the Missouri River, Fort Atkinson was established in 1820 on recommendation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Located at Fort Calhoun, the fort was important to the early fur trade, river traffic and Indian relations. It was an active fort until 1827. The park grounds are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 1 to Oct. 9 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 10 to April 30.
Much of the historic outpost has been reconstructed, and interpretive work continues. Living history demonstrations are scheduled periodically during the summer.
Fort Atkinson had its genesis with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s. After stopping in the area, Clark noted in his journal that the site provided a very suitable location for a fort. More than a decade later, Fort Atkinson was established. It was a large garrison: at its peak, it held nearly one quarter of the standing U.S. Army, approximately 1,200 soldiers. The fort protected the growing western fur trade, and as the only governmental authority in the vast territory west of the Missouri, it also enforced peaceful relations between traders and the Indian tribes of the region. It operated from 1820 to 1827.
After the Army realigned its forces to the south, Fort Atkinson was abandoned, and the area converted to farmland. In 1961, local concern prompted a drive to preserve and restore the area. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission purchased the land two years later, and undertook a 20-year effort to reconstruct the fort. Today, much of the fort has been rebuilt, including barracks, gates, an armorer’s shop, the council house and the Sutler Store.
Harold W. Andersen Visitor Center interprets the history of the fort and contains displays of artifacts.
A park entry permit is required and may be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors or in advance of your arrival online at GoOutdoorsNE.com.
Living History events occur from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first weekend of each month between May and October. Reenactors portray fur traders, coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters, tinsmiths, weavers and other period trades. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the reenactors.
After the fort became inactive, it began to fall into disrepair. However, local interest in the site remained strong and eventually led reconstruction of many of the fort’s features. Reconstruction efforts took 20 years. During that time, barracks, gates, an armorer’s shop, council house and sutler’s store were all constructed.
A candlelight tour of the fort is held each November and allows visitors to see the grounds in a different light while learning about historical events that took place at the fort.
The Fort Atkinson Visitor Center theater is available to rent for your activity.
Fort Atkinson State Historical Park
A park entry permit is required to visit state parks and may be purchased at the park, statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors, or in advance of your arrival online. View those fees, as well as attraction and amenity pricing.
Our 76 gorgeous state park and recreations areas host a plethora of events throughout the year. From bird hikes to kayak races, Living History events to family outdoor days, our parks host something fun for every outdoor enthusiast.