Overland Trail Museum - Atlas Obscura

Overland Trail Museum

Sterling, Colorado

Snapshots of late 19th and early 20th century Americana, focused on life on the plains, are displayed in this museum. 


The Overland Trail Museum, which is operated by the Sterling Parks, Library and Recreation department, was originally opened in the mid-1930s and was named after (and originally intended to commemorate) the 19th century Overland Trail along the South Platte River. This was said to be the busiest route in the country in the 1860s, due to the emigrants streaming westward.

The main building, built in 1936, still contains displays, but over the years extensive exhibits have been added in new structures. The focus has also been broadened to include life on the plains generally, with many early 20th century topics. Many of the exhibits are outside, and you are free to walk around among them.

They include a one-room schoolhouse, church, store, and blacksmith shop, which date from before 1915, with in addition displays of farm and ranch equipment. There is also an early 1900s barber shop, containing equipment from an original in Huxton, Colorado, and a family residence furnished as it might have been in the 1930s. A reconstructed print shop and a replica of an early 20th-century filling station are also found.

Of particular interest are the displays in the Dave Hamil/R.E.A. (Rural Electrification Administration) building, on the profound effect that electricity had on rural life. Hamil was a Colorado pioneer in electrification.

Know Before You Go

The museum is at the east edge of Sterling just west of Interstate 76, on the south side of US 6/Business 76. The entry road is well marked. Check the website for hours and admission fees.

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February 12, 2024

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