Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Know Nebraska: Dobby's Frontier Town

Nebraska is full of unique attractions, and Dobby's Frontier Town in Alliance, ranks right up there at the top. When you're from a state rich in natural beauty, important history and western heritage, yet lacking the signature "mountains or beaches" that constitutes, in the minds of some, a destination, you get very creative in celebrating what you have.
Such is the case with Dobby's Frontier Town. One man had a vision to save the pioneer heritage of his beloved area of Nebraska. You'll find the details of his story in a story published in Nebraska Life Magazine in 2012 and now posted on their website.
Suffice it to say that Dobby's is an absolutely unique western village, filled with authentic buildings from Alliance's past, as well as clever and accurate reproductions.
It was one man's vision, but when age and the scope of the project combined to signal it was too much for one man, volunteers stepped in and convinced the city of Alliance to take over ownership and save it. It is now governed by a board of directors and many tireless volunteers who spend countless hours keeping up with maintenance and expanding the village.
Here you'll find a school house, jail, saloon and bordello, general store, blacksmith shop, and a bank, among many others.
There is a straw bale home, a log cabin, a church and a gas station. The age of the station can be guessed at by the price of the gas - 5 cents a gallon!
The grounds are beautiful! Though it is tucked away just on the outskirts of Alliance, it truly evokes the feeling of being a small town isolated on the prairie.
While in most museums visitors are barred from the artifacts by velvet ropes, here at Dobby's you can sit and stay a while, absorbing the atmosphere, and letting the experiences of the people who lived there soak into your bones.
It's all FREE! Although I encourage you to make your way to the General Store (pictured above), where you'll find the donation jar and guest book. Sign the book and let them know where you're from and what you think of the work they're doing - then leave a generous donation in the jar to help them with that work.
They hold an annual celebration on the third week in September, with fun and games, live music, living history and fabulous down-home country food. I encourage you to pencil it into your date book.
One of the most special things about Dobby's, is when you walk into the buildings, it's as if the inhabitants have just stepped out and will return momentarily. It has none of the mothballed static feel of a museum. It truly feels like a living town.
You'll have fun wandering through the community, imagining life on the frontier and considering with appreciation the drive and determination it took to create such an attraction.
We had the opportunity to visit Dobby's a year ago, but when we pulled up with our RV, we didn't think there was room for parking, so we drove on by. This year when we returned, we found that there is plenty of room. While there isn't a huge parking lot, there is plenty of room, even for a 31 foot RV like ours.

I've linked the website and the Nebraska Life article above, but Dobby's also has a Facebook page. You'll also find some great reviews on Trip Advisor (along with some comments from folks who clearly don't "get it".) It's been featured in Roadside America, and Road Trippers, and there's even a multi-cache geocache that will take you on a self-guided tour.

Dobby’s Frontier Town is located at 320 East 25th Street/Nance Road Alliance, NE 69301 and is open April-October, Monday-Sunday 10am to 6pm. Winter Hours (weather permitting)is by appointment by calling: (308) 760-3574

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