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Red Cloud

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

About Red Cloud
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

History of Red Cloud
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.

Area Airports and Travel Information

Area Airports and Travel Information
Area Airports and Travel Information

Red Cloud Municipal Airport—This is a city airport that can accommodate small private planes. A courtesy car is available for your convenience. For more information, call 402-746-3297.

Central Nebraska Regional Airport—Grand Island, Nebraska (70 miles north of Red Cloud)
The airport offers Budget and Thrifty car rental services. Take South Highway 281 and continue south until arriving in Red Cloud. 

Lincoln Municipal Aiport—Lincoln, Nebraska (145 miles northeast of Red Cloud)
The Lincoln airport offers Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, Alamo, and Enterprise rental car services. From Lincoln, take I-80 West to exit 312, which is US 281 South. Continue on South Highway 281 to Red Cloud. 

Eppley Airfield—Omaha, Nebraska (205 miles northeast of Red Cloud)
Eppley Airfield has Thrifty, Dollah, Hertz, Alamo, National, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Advantage for your renting convenience. To get to Red Cloud take I-80 West to Exit 312 onto South US 281; continue on South US 281 to Red Cloud.

Hays Regional Airport—Hays, Kansas (140 miles southwest of Red Cloud)
The airport offers Hertz and Enterprise rental car companies. Take TI-70 East to K 181 North, which becomes US 281 North until reaching Red Cloud. 

Manhattan Regional Airport—Manhattan, Kansas (160 miles southeast of Red Cloud)
Manhattan Regional Airport offers two rental car services: Enterprise and Hertz. Take US-24 West, then turn right and go north on K 181; this highway becomes US 281 North and will bring you to Red Cloud. 

Kansas City International Airport—Kansas City, Missouri (275 miles southeast of Red Cloud)
Kansas City International Airport offers several rental car options including: Ace, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty. Take I-70 West to US- 24 West, to K 181 North, and continue north into Red Cloud.