Crawford Nebraska


We arrived at Fort Robinson State Park near Carford Nebraska about 2pm on Wednesday the 25th of August. The drive from Scottsbluff only took a couple of hours. Check in was 4pm but we were allowed to occupy site 110 as there was no one there the night before. The site was handicap rated which means the concrete pad extended out to the picnic table. This is a nice campground. The cost was $35 per night for full hook ups but you also have to pay a Nebraska State Park Pass fee of $8 per day and no discounts.

On the way North traveling the two-lane highway where you may see another car every 10 min or so we traveled through the Sand Hills again… then as we got closer to the Fort pine trees started appearing, then more and more pine trees, then bluffs with big pine trees. We moved from pure barrenness to a forest within a few miles. Extraordinary country.

This area has a lot of history. Crazy Horse was killed here, Red Cloud made his famous trip to Washington DC from here and as a result established the Red Cloud Agency. The Fort then was involved in WII.

I have said this before and will say it again… the people then are the same then as we are today. The only difference is technology (and maybe our value system – which is eroding). They had log cabins, we have houses, they had horses, we have cars, they had the pony express, we have email… the same people just different tools. And… it was not that long ago. You can look at the photos, see the expressions in their faces, and read their diaries – we have the same emotions, same concerns for family, we are the same people. You can also see how the Army was run, the discipline, respect, rank structure, etc., and most of it has not changed. If you have served then you will find it easy to relate. I do not see places like Fort Robinson as distant “things” made up in history books… they are our heritage, our brothers and sisters, they are real and it was just yesterday… we should pay attention.

Camp Robinson (later changed to Fort Robinson) was one of several army posts established to protect Indian agencies. For the first four years, the post provided security for nearby Red Cloud Agency. The Red Cloud Agency was established after Red Cloud made his famous trip to Washington DC. The soldiers also guarded the Sidney-Deadwood Trail to the Black Hills and the surrounding region. Although the agency was moved in 1877, Camp Robinson remained. As an indication of its permanent status, the designation “Camp” was changed to “Fort” in 1878.

In 1885, the first African American soldiers of the Ninth Cavalry arrived. At that time the U.S. Army was totally segregated, with two cavalry regiments composed of black soldiers. From 1887 to 1898 the post was the regimental headquarters for the Ninth Cavalry. From 1885 through 1907 the majority of the troops stationed at Fort Robinson were African American.

The busiest years at Fort Robinson were those of World War II. With cavalry regiments being dismounted, large numbers of horses were shipped to the remount depot. By 1943 there were 12,000 horses at Fort Robinson, though the herd was gradually reduced. 

Pack mule training at the post increased during the war years. By the end of the war, nearly 10,000 mules had been trained or issued.

After the war, the various military activities at the post were phased out. In 1947 the army decided to abandon Fort Robinson. The old post was transferred to the United States Department of Agriculture for the use as a beef research station. In 1948, after some seventy-four years of use, Fort Robinson ceased to be a military post.

Red Cloud, Oglala Sioux Chief, ca. 1870.

For more information see:

Brief History of Fort Robinson
Red Cloud Agency

To see our photos of the Fort and area, click here.

Our next stop is Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City South Dakota and the Black Hills where will be spend over a week exploring the area to include Mount Rushmore, the Bad Lands, and Custer State Park. The Base has a RV park for Active Duty and Retiree personnel as a lot of bases do.