THE 100TH MERIDIAN MUSEUM
The 100th Meridian Museum was completed in 1994. The museum became the permanent home for the Concord Touring Coach which can now be viewed by the public. This famous stagecoach carried President Taft during his visits to Yellowstone National Park.
THE ROBERT HENRI MUSEUM AND HISTORICAL WALKWAY
The Robert Henri Museum and Historical Walkway was the childhood home of John J. Cozad’s son, Henri, who became a famous artist and is known worldwide. The Walkway consists of an original Pony Express station, the Little Church in the Park, and a pioneer schoolhouse. The Robert Henri Museum holds many art shows throughout the year.
ORIGINAL PONY EXPRESS STATION
Cozad’s original Pony Express Station has attracted much attention through the years. Located in the Veteran’s Memorial Park, it is often times a focal point for visiting tourists. The cabin was originally built about 1849 on the south bank of the Platte River, south of Darr by Mr. Pat Malalley. Mr. Malalley built it of red cedars which he found in the canyons to the west. He used wooden pegs in the construction and he plastered it with clay which he found in the hills to the south. This clay made a “pink” plaster. This Malalley Ranch became not only a trading post for Indians but also a camping place for wagon trains because there was water available and wood for repairs and fuel. Later it became known as the Willow Island station and was used as a stage and Pony Express station during the Pony Express April 1860 – October 1861.
In 1864 Congress approved the construction of a transcontinental railroad which would eventually meet at the 100th Meridian, the site of Cozad, Nebraska. This site was later changed to Utah. At this time soldiers were stationed at the Mallalley Ranch and it was renamed Fort Willow Island (not to be confused with the Willow Island Railroad Station to the west).
In 1906 G. J. Baldwin purchased the Malalley-Freeman Ranch, and the family lived in the log house until their home could be built. From that time until 1936 the log house was used as a store house, a blacksmith shop and even a pig pen.
In 1936 the American Legion Post No. 77 of Cozad, Nebraska purchased the Malalley log house, the official Willow Island Pony Express Station for $75.00 and brought it to the Cozad City Park, now the Veteran’s Memorial Park. The house was taken down log by log and reconstructed to its exact size with all doors and windows in authentic places. A new roof was put on the log house.
It was moved to its present location, rebuilt and dedicated by Dawson County American Legion Post 77 in 1938. Mr. Carl Gustafson had a marker built of Colorado red rock to stand beside the Pony Express Station, and the marker contains an official Pony Express Medallion issued by the Pony Express Headquarters in San Rafael, California. A plaque which is attached to the building states: “May the spirit of those hardy pioneers who blazed a trail to the golden West never die.”
This information is from the Robert Henri Museum and Historical Walkway booklet written by Betty Menke
THE LITTLE CHURCH BY THE PARK
The Little Church by the Park was originally known as New Hope Evangelical. It was the center of most social activities. Not only were there services on Sunday and Wednesday nights and weddings and funerals, but it was used for Ladies Aid Society, Quilting Parties, Potluck Suppers, Box Socials, birthday and anniversary celebrations and all types of parties that did not include dancing.
The little white frame church, known as the New Hope Evangelical Congregation was built in 1909 on an acre of ground northwest of Cozad. About 1920 country people began to have automobiles and went to town quite often. They joined the Cozad Evangelical Church in town. In 1921 the little white frame church was sold to a new group called The Christian Science Society and was moved to Cozad on 10th Street north of the Cozad City Park, now named the Veterans’ Memorial Park. The Christian Science Society held services in the little church by the park until 1981. It is now used as a chapel, a meeting place for small gatherings, and art shows by the Cozad Art Club and is known as “The Little Church By the Park”.
THE PIONEER SCHOOL
This one room country school was built about the year 1880 on a site nine miles north and west of the City of Cozad. The school was called “The Adle School” because it was on Adle land. In the one room was a big coal burning stove. Every day the pail of water was carried to school until eventually a pump was put outdoors near the schoolhouse. This was a very active school, not only full of students in the daytime, but many evening community activities were held there. There was a neighborhood PTA, a Literary Society, and a Grange Group that met there monthly. There were parties, programs, box suppers and even dances held there.
In the 1950’s some consolidation of schools began. After the closing of the school it was purchased by Dorothy and Archie Smith and they in turn gave it to the Cozad Historical Society in 1960. The school was placed south of Cozad for many years waiting for a permanent location. In the spring of 1985 the Robert Henri Museum and Historical Walkway Foundation
THE 100TH MERIDIAN CITY
John J. Cozad was traveling west on the Union Pacific Railroad when he saw the “100th Meridian” sign. It impressed him as a favorable site for a town. Returning to Ohio, he organized a company of people which he brought to this location and founded the town named after him.
The 100th Meridian” is an important natural demarcation line where “the humid east meets the arid west”. Therefore, you are now officially in the West, as proclaimed by the State of Nebraska.
THE PONY EXPRESS TRAIL
Three major pioneer trails, the Oregon, the Mormon, and the Chisholm, as well as the Pony Express went through the Cozad area. The Pony Express marker and the Oregon Trail marker are located at two sites south of the Platte River Bridge at Cozad.
The Historic Lincoln Highway
Cozad is located right on the historic Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Highway stretched across 3,389 miles beginning construction in 1913 when a group of American industrialists envisioned a “continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description, without toll charges, and to be a lasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln.”
The Lincoln Highway banner is proudly displayed right in front of the Robert Henri Historical Walkway as part of its official route and an original Lincoln Highway marker with Medallion can be viewed in the front window of the 100th Meridian Museum.