History of McCook, Red Willow County

McCook was established in 1882 as the result of an agreement between the Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company and the Lincoln Land Company to form a new railroad center halfway between Denver and Omaha. McCook was named for Alexander McDowell McCook; General McCook served the Union for 43 years.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Sutton House
The Sutton House at 602 Norris Ave. is one of Wright’s few homes west of the Mississippi River, and the only one in Nebraska. This architectural marvel showcases Wright’s distinctive Prairie Style. This house is currently a private residence.

Senator George W. Norris State Historical Site
Senator Norris referred to the modest house at 706 Norris Ave. as his own “WPA project.” It has been beautifully preserved, as it was when Mrs. Norris left it in 1967. Learn about the man that has so strongly impacted all of our lives through his four decades representing Nebraska in the House and Senate, including his efforts in establishing the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Rural Electrification Act.

Open for tours Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m – (308) 345-8484 

Museum of the High Plains and Carnegie Library
Located at 421 Norris Ave., this is where you go to learn “the rest of the story” about McCook and southwest Nebraska’s settlement; the importance of Agriculture and Railroad to our development and future; our significant political heritage in being the home to Senators and Governors; and catch a glimpse of daily life of years gone by. Notable exhibits include Frank Lloyd Wright house plans for a home that was never built, D.A.R. display, quilts and the area’s role in WWII by being the location of the McCook Army Air Base, as well as the Indianola German POW camp.

The historic Carnegie Library comprises a portion of the Museum complex. Built in the style of the Spanish Colonial Revival, the library was constructed with a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation, opened to the public in 1908 and served in that capacity for over 60 years. It continues to serve as a place of education with its archives of scrapbooks, yearbooks, and a wealth of genealogical resources.

Open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m., (308) 345-3661.

Heritage Square Historical Walking Tour
Discover McCook’s beautiful historic district on this excursion. The tour spans a 10-block area near downtown displaying a variety of architectural styles from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Start your tour by picking up a Historical Walking Tour brochure at the Keystone Business Center, the Museum of the High Plains or download the pdf here.

Red Willow County Fair History from the 1900’s
County Fair memories are different for everyone. 4-H and FFA members, and their families, who are caring for livestock during the Fair will have a different experience than those that look forward to the Midway and concerts. Do you plan a stop at one of the church food booths to check on the type of pie available? Or is a stop at the Lion’s BINGO booth a must for you?

Follow the above link for a history of the Red Willow County Fair, beginning with its origins in Indianola. This history is a review of historical documents, family resources and personal reflections of the author, Jerda (Thompson) Garey Vickers, with the intention of revisions with additions and documentation from you, the reader. Please contact us at HighPlainsHistorical@gmail.com with your memories of the Red Willow County Fair.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Sutton House
Senator George W. Norris
Museum of the High Plains and Carnegie Library