A trip to Ash Hollow

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 1:15 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 1:51 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Ash Hollow State Historical Park near the west end of Lake McConaughy in Garden County is a fascinating Nebraska state park. The area was a stopping point for Plains Indians, a site of U.S. troop maneuvers and a place for shelter and water on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. Ruts are still visible at Windlass Hill where wagons were lowered into the valley.

We talked with Tamara Cooper who is the superintendent of the park. “My favorite part of Ash Hollow, is its place over change and time,” Cooper said. “It’s been here for millions of years. People have found shelter here for thousands of years. And it’s got a very broad history, and I think that’s what I like the most about it.”

Archaeologists have dated human occupation at the park back to at least 12,000 years ago. There is a “cave” or overhang in the cliffs where natives would go to process bison kills. Later in history, the area was used by pioneers traveling west. Those on the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails found refuge in the area. “We have a spring, we have ash trees, and they were able to stay over for a few weeks, rest their animals, and make repairs before they moved on to the more strenuous part of the trail which would be the mountains,” Cooper said.

The park is used for many outdoor activities today. “You can literally walk on the Oregon Trail,” Cooper said. “We have different hiking trails, we have an equestrain trail, and there are many places for people to have picnics or family reunions. It’s a very serene place for people to come, learn history, be a part of history, and also enjoy the outdoors.”

The park ground is open from sunrise to sunset year round for people to enjoy.

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