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Experiencing Local History

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:44 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Murdock Museum is marking its 26th anniversary this year.

We caught up with members of the local historical society in Murdock to learn more about the museum. “After the Murdock Centennial in 1990, there was a lot of interest in preserving some of the local history,” historical society member Dale Vanderford said. It was then that local enthusiasts decided to turn an old building into a museum. “This building was originally an Allis Chalmers dealership, and it was built in 1945,” Vanderford said. At first glance, it’s just a plain block building. But it turns out, there’s quite a bit of history behind it. “The building was built by prisoners of war from World War II,” historical society member Angie Friesell said. “They were mainly German, and there was a camp for them down in Weeping Water, and they would bring them up here, and they built this building, and it became an implement dealership. They welcomed these prisoners, people were kind to them, and some of prisoners also worked for area farmers.”

As you might imagine, converting an old tractor dealership into a museum took some work. “We spent probably a year’s worth of time putting a roof on it, and fixing things up,” Vanderford said. Like in most small towns, the work was done by volunteers. But the work means visitors can now get a glimpse of what life might have been like in a Nebraska railroad town in the early 1900′s. “We have kind of a small main street boardwalk that recreates a couple of the businesses in town, including a barbershop, and a hardware store,” Vanderford said. “We have a church which displays things from the local churches that exist and used to exist around here as well.”

The museum also features a one-room school house replica made out of the old Lions Club building. “We have 40 desks, and it’s open for school groups if they want to come through and spend a day, and learn what it was like in the 1890′s,” Vanderford said. The museum is important to local residents and to Cass County. “We have a really neat history, and we want people to come in and see that,” Friesell said. “We are in a great location because we have Mahoney State Park, we have Platte River State Park around, and we have Louisville Lakes.” The hope is people will take some time to visit the museum, to get a taste of local Nebraska history. “Don’t forget about history. History is important,” Friesell said.

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