Horseback riders are among those sure to appreciate upcoming improvements to Fort Robinson State Park.
Plans include a $1.2 million addition of campsites and facilities for visitors traveling with horses, said Jim Miller, park superintendent.
Late this summer, construction will begin on an expansion to the equestrian campground at the northwest corner of the main park complex, doubling its size. Included will be 24 additional sites with hook-ups to 50-amp electricity, water and sewer. Also new will be an adjacent 30-pen enclosure for stalling horses outside. That facility will complement the recently renovated historic Mare Barn, which also still will be available for boarding horses.
“Not everybody likes to have their horses stalled inside, especially during the hot weather,” Miller said. “They’ll have a choice this way.”
The new sites will be among many improvements to the park’s campgrounds in recent years. For instance, a new showerhouse was installed at that campground in 2022.
Miller said contractors are making progress on the electrical upgrade to the Soldier Creek Campground that began late last year. When finished, 50-amp electricity will be available at each site.
“The weather has kind of set them back, but they’re still hoping to be done at the end of March. I’m really hoping it will be operational before we open up for camping season,” he said.
In 2021, 42 additional full hook-up sites were added to the park’s Red Cloud Campground.
The park also is improving preservation for two buildings that house personnel of the Post Playhouse summer theatre and the park’s historical bandmaster’s quarters. The aging native stone and brick foundations are being replaced with concrete under the three buildings. Instead of resting near the ground as they have, the buildings will have a 4-foot tall crawlspace.
Thanks to funding obtained by the Post Playhouse board, the theatre is receiving new seating this year. The old seats have been removed, and the new ones are expected to be installed before summer.
Upcoming improvements at the park also include upgrades to one of its lodge rooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A number of the park’s historic buildings have received new sidewalks, steps, roofing and siding in recent years. Also, new flooring has been installed at the park’s offices, the Buffalo Soldiers Barracks and numerous cabins. Some of the latter also have received new cabinetry.
These projects largely have been funded by Capital Maintenance Funds, which were established by the Nebraska Legislature in 2016 to help preserve Nebraska’s public outdoor recreation facilities and parklands; state and federal sources such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund; and Nebraska Game and Parks’ funds generated from user fees of the state park system.