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Willa Cather Foundation - Red Cloud Nebraska (NE)

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About Red Cloud

About Red Cloud

Red Cloud is said to be the most famous little town in America. In order to help our guests experience all this little town has to offer, we have information about area accommodations, attractions, shopping, and recreation. Here you'll also find directions and transportation information to aid in planning your visit. We hope to see you soon!

About Red Cloud

If you dream of escaping the urban crush for the serenity of a small town, then Red Cloud is the perfect destination to spend a quiet weekend. Red Cloud—population 1,020—is located in the heart of south-central Nebraska, approximately 7 miles north of the Nebraska-Kansas border. With its quaint lodging options, rich history, regular cultural programs, historic attractions, and recreational activities, there is never a shortage of fun and worthwhile things to do while visiting the community. For more information about visiting Red Cloud, contact the Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce at 402-746-3238.

History of Red Cloud

Willard Thorp, in "American Writing in the Twentieth Century" says, "From the literary standpoint, Red Cloud ranks as one of the most famous villages in American Literature."

Red Cloud is home to the largest living memorial to an author in the country. Willa Cather spent her childhood in this small railroad town, and it is the mission of the Willa Cather Foundation to promote and assist in the development and preservation of the art, literary, and historical collection relating to the life, times, and work of one of America's—and the world's—most beloved and respected authors. As a result of its efforts, the Foundation brings 8,000 to 10,000 visitors to Red Cloud each year.

Founded in 1871 and named by Silas Garber—banker and fourth governor of Nebraska—Red Cloud was a booming, growing pioneer community that saw eight passenger trains a day come through its Burlington Depot. Garber and a group of local business men named the town Red Cloud in honor of the chief of the Oglala tribe of the Teton-Lakota Sioux. Though named for the Sioux leader, Red Cloud is located in what is known traditionally as Pawnee/Otoe territory; there is no evidence of Sioux having been in this area.

For many years, Red Cloud boasted a horse-drawn streetcar railway system with tracks running from downtown to the depot. Lorenzo Oatman, who survived an infamous attack by the Yavapais tribe in Arizona as a small child, ran the Royal Hotel for many years. The Starke Round Barn, built in 1902, is the largest of its type in the state. Click here to learn more about Red Cloud. 

Click here to search past issues of the Red Cloud Chief newspaper from 1873 to 1922.