Why should you plan to visit the Harold Warp Pioneer Village, one of the most amazing hidden gems in Nebraska? Located in Minden, Nebraska. A population of around 3000 people. The closet large city is Omaha, almost 200 miles away. Kansas City is 5 hours away. So again I ask why. The answer was provided by Harold Warp himself. Paraphrased: If we don’t keep a record of where we started, how can we take pride in how far we’ve come.
Hidden Gems in Nebraska
I have learned something about myself as a Travel Planner, Travel Blogger, and generally a person with a great deal of curiosity. I want to see it all. Everything. I don’t want to skip a step, a site, or an opportunity. Not to be depressing, but I look at each day of travel like this: We May Never Pass This Way Again. So I’m going to scour every possible source, so that when I head out, I’m going to see it all.
You might recall I’ve mentioned the handy app Roadtrippers. This resource was invaluable to me as I planned our Epic 2020 Road Trip. I knew I had to visit the Harold Warp Pioneer Village as soon as I discovered it on the app. It just looked too awesomely odd to pass up. And, there’s not a whole lot of Nebraska Tourist Attractions between Dodge City, Kansas and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. So a stop in Minden, Nebraska was a nice break in an endless sea of corn fields.
What is the Harold Warp Pioneer Village
In a nut shell, the Harold Warp Pioneer Village is a museum of American progress, documented in 26 buildings, each one packed to the literal ceiling with every object you can imagine. Over 50,000 individual items. Starting with the first one, and ending with the last.
For example. The first Ford Automobile, and one for every year thereafter. The first stove, and one for every year thereafter. Motorcycles. Text Books. Ball Point Pins. The sheer volume of the collection is mind-boggling.
A sign hanging in one building served as a visual FAQ:
- With very few exceptions, every single item was purchased by Harold Warp.
- The items were sourced all over the US, Canada and Mexico beginning in 1948.
- Who is Harold Warp? The Founder and Owner, Harold Warp was an American businessman who invented Flex-O-Glass, a Chicago-based plastics firm which revolutionized the industry by developing Jiffy Wrap and Jiffy Bags for protecting food, an idea that was quickly imitated by major plastic and chemical firms.. He was born in a sod house on a farm near Minden, Nebraska, and the youngest of twelve children.
- Harold Warp said the reason he started the collection was “to show our children how this great country was built, by displaying everyday items in their order of development, so future generations could see the historical development of our great country.”
- None of the buildings on the property are original to the location. They were all moved there or constructed there.
Living History Museums
I love living history museums. They bring the past alive by recreating the sights, sounds, aromas, and even tastes of the past. And when you visit the Harold Warp Pioneer Village, the progress of American invention is displayed in themed building after building after building.
The stand-outs for me included:
- The immense collection of carriages and wagons, including an actual Romney Gypsy wagon dating back to 1850.
- A reconstructed train depot, with layers of floors dating from 1872 to 1902.
- St. Paul Lutheran Church, dating back to 1884, and dedicated to Harold Warp’s sister, Clara. I thought that was really sweet.
- The sod house, newly constructed to mirror the sod house that Harold Warp grew up in. Think about that. A sod house in Nebraska! I can’t imagine how cold that was in Winter.
- The building containing row after row after row of recreated rooms, from kitchens to living rooms, to stores. The volume of items needed to fully decorate each vignette is staggering.
- The collection of appliances, especially the stoves and ovens. Amazing how some things change, and how some things are still so familiar.
- The oldest existing merry-go-round.
Every imaginable item is labeled. Including the trees. There’s no possibility of leaving this living history museum without gaining knowledge. Exactly as Harold Warp intended.
For those of you who are collectors, this is not a collection of the most rare. Or most well-preserved. It’s a collection of EVERYTHING. So visitors can really appreciate the scope of American progress and ingenuity.
One of the wonderful things about a road trip is taking in sites that are so interesting, and weird, and thought provoking, and comical, and wonderful.
And wonderful is the perfect word to describe a visit to the Harold Warp Pioneer Village. It’s open year-round. And you should go!
Tags: Museums | Nebraska | Road Trip