In 1866, a three-train caravan of prairie schooners carrying 44 German families from Ixonia and Watertown, Wisconsin, arrived at the junction of Elkhorn and North Fork Valleys, where they were attracted by the rich land open for settlement. These pioneers were joined by others from Wisconsin and formed the community that later became Norfolk.
With the Sand Hills lying to the west and farmland to the east, today’s Norfolk has the charm and hospitality of a small town, and the opportunities and history of a big city. Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau recommends the following four attractions for visiting groups.
Spanning a sizable chunk of America’s outback, the Cowboy Trail is the longest rail-to-trail conversion in the United States. Once part of the Chicago & North Western Railroad’s Cowboy Line, this limestone trail covers 321 miles from Norfolk to Chadron. Walk or bike the trail; it’s the most scenic way to take in the Norfolk area.
Elkhorn Valley Museum
Home to the Johnny Carson exhibit, Elkhorn Valley Museum has a working one-room schoolhouse, the restored first home of Norfolk, the Square Turn Tractor, a research center and a birding library. Group visits begin with an orientation and a self-guided tour. Programs geared toward specific interests, such as pioneer life, are available for groups.
Barnstormers Family Bar & Grill
Barnstormers Family Bar & Grill is located in a historically registered airport terminal building. The new bar area is centered around an airplane theme while the dining area still reflects large biplane wings with a backdrop of pictures from the early days of the Norfolk Regional Airport/Karl Stefan Memorial Field (OFK).
Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park
About 12 million years ago, a volcano spread a blanket of ash over northeastern Nebraska. More than 200 fossil skeletons from 12 species have been discovered at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, about an hour northwest of Norfolk. Begin a visit with the interpretive displays and the fossil preparation laboratory.
Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau