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Visit outpost at Fort SidneyVisit outpost at Fort Sidney

Down the Road: The only remnants of Fort Sidney are the Commander’s Home and the married Officer’s Quarters, which now serves as a history museum for Cheyenne County.

Curt Arens

November 21, 2023

2 Min Read
the Commander’s Home and married Officer's Quarters
REMEMBERING THE FORT: Fort Sidney, in its heyday, was a major outpost, protecting construction workers for the Union Pacific railroad in the early days, and playing a role during the Indian conflicts on the High Plains. It also served as a supply trailhead for gold seekers along the Sidney-Black Hills Trail. Today, the Commander’s Home and married Officer's Quarters (pictured) are all that remain of the fort. Photos by Curt Arens

“Sidney Station” was established by the 37th Infantry Regiment two years after the Civil War at a point midway between the north and south branches of the Platte River at what is now Sidney, Neb., in Cheyenne County.

Later renamed Sidney Barracks, at first it was a temporary camp with only one permanent structure — a blockhouse.

In 1869, the site was relocated, and the name was officially changed to Fort Sidney, a major strategic point for protecting construction workers on the Union Pacific railroad. With the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, Sidney became a major supply depot and trailhead along the Sidney-Black Hills Trail for gold seekers. In the mid-1870s, Sidney was a wild trail town with a major trailhead for cattle shipping.

In 1878, 300 Northern Cheyenne under Dull Knife and Little Wolf broke away from their hated reservation in Oklahoma and began to flee to Kansas and Nebraska, sounding the alarm at Fort Sidney. A special train rushed troops to Ogallala to try to intercept Dull Knife’s band, but the Cheyenne escaped into the vastness of the Sandhills.

The post at Sidney was closed in 1894, and the buildings were sold in 1899. Today, the Post Commander’s Home and the married Officer's Quarters, which now serves as the Cheyenne County Museum, are all that remain of the old fort.

The Commander’s Home has been restored and outfitted with period furnishings. There is also a powder magazine on the grounds.

 the Commander’s Home and married Officers’ Quarters metal sign

The Officer's Quarter's museum building nearby not only chronicles artifacts from Fort Sidney, but there also is a room dedicated to the Sioux Army Depot, a 20,000-acre military installation once located 12 miles northwest of Sidney that warehoused and distributed supplies and ammunition from 1942 during World War II through Vietnam.

Other rooms in the museum highlight antique tools; a hardware store and dress shop from 1887; firearms and leather; pioneer women; Native Americans; historic toys; a library room, railroad room and schoolroom.

Located just a block off the historic Lincoln Highway in Sidney, the Commander’s Home and museum in the Officer's Quarters are open summer weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. in June, July and August and at other times by appointment.

Learn more at fortsidney.org.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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