The Oregon Trail Community Foundation’s Board of Directors has approved a $25,000 grant to the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation for the expansion project at Chimney Rock’s Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center.
“We are so grateful to the OTCF Board for their support of the project” said Leslie Fattig, NSHSF Executive Director. “Chimney Rock is such an iconic Nebraska landmark and we are thrilled that visitors will be able to have an enhanced experience.”
The Foundation, which supports History Nebraska (formerly the Nebraska State Historical Society), has received a total of $1,591,848.11 in gifts and grants toward the original goal of $1.8 million to expand Chimney Rock’s Ethel and Christopher J. Abbott Visitor Center.
In November 2018, the Foundation purchased the land situated between the Visitor’s Center and Chimney Rock with the intention of preserving the stretch of prairie and the view afforded by undeveloped land.
The land sale was separate from an ongoing fundraiser to expand and improve the visitor center, which attracts about 30,000 people a year. The current visitor center was built 25 years ago, replacing an old trailer that had been near the base of the national landmark. The new expansion will include an additional 1,350 square feet, with a new entrance that will double as a storm shelter, an indoor classroom, and a gathering space. Other improvements include an expanded gift shop, accessible parking, an outdoor classroom and an open-concept theater space, with a clear view of the 300-foot spire that towers above the Platte River Valley.
Work on the expansion is slated to begin in October 2019 and be completed in April 2020, with a grand reopening a month later.