Nebraska History Spotlight: Keya Paha County Historical Society

The Keya Paha County Historical Society was founded on March 1, 1968, by twenty people who wanted to protect and preserve local history for future generations. Over the years, numerous members built exhibits and filled the museum with artifacts.

Interior of the museum that was once the school assembly room.

In addition to a collection of books, family histories, newspapers, and maps, the museum displays its artifacts in themed rooms. The military room contains many eras of memorabilia and uniforms. The education room displays items from the county’s early schools, along with a large display of class lists and photos dating back to 1905.

Local artifacts include historic clothing and household items. Some of the county’s early post office boxes are on display as well as a general store cabinet from a local community. Society members are currently working to update the basement space, which houses large implements including tools, buggies, and early machines. Directly outside the museum is an original log cabin relocated from the northern part of the county.

Arguably, the museum’s most interesting artifact is the building itself, the former Keya Paha County High School. Built in 1915-1916, it saw the first annual commencement of seven graduates in 1917. Enrollment peaked at more than 160 pupils during the 1941-42 school year. Starting in the 1950s, the state began mandating improvements to the building. Eventually, voters decided to build a new school. The old building graduated its last class in 1964 and was later donated to the historical society for a museum.

Entering the old school, one notices the beautiful wood trim and original wood flooring, the original desks in the assembly room, and the wooden steps that are worn from the footsteps of students who passed through so many years ago.

Former education room.

The Keya Paha County Historical Society currently has nine volunteer members who are working hard to renovate the building and update its collections. Thanks to generous donations, the group has been able to put a new roof on the building, purchase new storm windows, and remove all hazardous material from the basement.

Follow the Keya Paha County Historical Society on Facebook. Tidbits of history are regularly posted on the page. Located in Springview, the museum opens during Memorial Day weekend and has hosted a cruise night event for the past three years. The museum is open at various times throughout the summer and by appointment. Call Jason at 402-925-8314. Email [email protected] if you have photos or information for the museum. Address: 210 E Football Ave, Springview, NE 68778.

By the Keya Paha County Historical Society (5/30/24)

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