Fort Robinson State Park & Post Playhouse
Mark W. Harris
Nebraska's Largest State Park - Where Crazy Horse Surrendered
Crawford is best known as the home of Fort Robinson State Park, three miles west of Crawford on Highway 20. The fort began in 1874 as a military camp at the Red Cloud Indian Agency. For 70 years, it was the most important military outpost in the region. Now, it is one of Nebraska’s most important historical sites and one of its most popular tourist attractions. With 22,000 acres, it is Nebraska’s largest state park.
It was here that the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse surrendered in 1877. A stone marker shows the spot where Crazy Horse was mortally wounded while resisting imprisonment. Two years later, the fort was the site of a battle as part of the famous Cheyenne Outbreak. Led by Chief Dull Knife, Northern Cheyenne fled their Oklahoma reservation for their homeland, but were captured and imprisoned at Fort Robinson. One night in January 1879, under fire from cavalry troops, 130 Northern Cheyenne Indians escaped into the rugged buttes. Within two weeks, all were killed or captured; 64 Cheyenne and 11 soldiers died in the fighting.
Fort Robinson was home to “Buffalo Soldiers,” an African-American garrison in the segregated army of the times. In the 20th century, the fort became the world’s largest military remount depot, and during World War II was the site of a K-9 corps training center and a German POW camp.
In addition to many original buildings, some historic barracks have been carefully reconstructed according to historic and archeological data – including the Cheyenne Outbreak barracks and Buffalo Soldier barracks. Visitors also can enjoy cookouts, trail rides, hiking, historic tours and museums, and a summer repertory theater at the Post Playhouse. Lodging is available in officers’ houses; camping is available at 100 camping pads with electrical hookups and 25 non-pad, non-electrical sites. Group and equestrian camping are available.
The fort is so large that though it draws many tourists, it never feels crowded. It is open mid-April through mid-November. A state park entry permit is required. (308) 665-2900
For more information on Post Playhouse, call (308) 665-1976 or visit www.postplayhouse.com. Before May 21, the phone number is 308-432-6380. The season starts June 1 and the plays include: Oklahoma, Godspell, Grease, A Year with Frog and Toad, and Broadway Gold: A Cabaret.
For more information about Crawford area attractions, contact the Crawford Chamber of Commerce at (866) 665-1817 or visit www.crawfordnebraska.biz.