| TRAVEL |
Most visitors to Scottsbluff, Nebraska arrive looking for history and the experience of walking along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails following the footsteps of their ancestors, and other immigrants, to the west coast and a new life in the late 1800’s. Little consideration is given to one of seven land-locked lighthouses in the United States that they can only see in Wyobraska.
Article & Photography by: Hawk Buckman
Published March 10, 2020
During visitors stays in Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Banner, Kimball and Sioux Counties (Wyobraska) many will explore the surrounding areas such as Signal Butte, the North Platte River, the Scottsbluff Zoo, Roubadeaux Pass, the Roubadeaux Trading Post, and other locations of interest in and around the Platte River Valley.
One location that should be seen while visiting Wyobraska is the Lake Minatare State Recreation Area (the Panhandle’s largest body of water) and the full size Lake Minatare Lighthouse- a land-locked folly lighthouse that has stood at Lake Minatare since 1939. The lighthouse has never been functional but has stood for years as a symbol of Wyobraska and the Nebraska Panhandle much like Chimney Rock.
The structure was constructed to resemble a lighthouse but is actually a pavilion, shelter and picnic-area built by the Veterans Conservation Corps, a New Deal agency that provided jobs to unemployed veterans in the 1930’s.
The folly lighthouse is one of seven inland lighthouses in the United States and was constructed out of native stone. It’s located in the middle of Lake Minatare which encompasses 2,158 acres and stands in the center of the North Platte Wildlife Refuge. The lake was created between 1912-1915 when construction on Minatare Dam was completed. Minatare Dam is a historic structure and was determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Camping and boating facilities are available at Lake Minatare recreation area and is a modern campground featuring asphalt pads with electrical hookups on the west end of the camp-grounds. Modern restrooms, showers and water hook-ups are available. There are 100 primitive camping areas around the lake which are accessible by car or truck. But be careful not to get stuck in the sand. Picnic tables, shelters, drinking water, fire grates, a trailer dump station and vault toilets dot the landscape and are within walking distance or a short drive.
In October 2, 2012 Stephen Colbert released his book “America Again: Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t.” Astonishingly, the Lake Minatare Lighthouse was pictured in the publication as a reference to the distance between New York, NY and Scottsbluff, NE as to how the United States had changed since the use of security cameras, and other tactical means, had been developed since 9/11 to observe terrorist activity. The comment was satyrical and harmless.
When visiting Wyobraska Lands be sure to pay a visit to the lighthouse and Lake Minatare. However, be sure to do so before Oct 15 and after Jan 15 as the lake is closed to the public to host migrating waterfowl and wildlife.
A Nebraska State Park Permit is required to enter park area. A daily pass can be purchased for $6. Nebraska platted vehicles (residence) can purchase a yearly permit for $30. Out of state vehicles can purchase a yearly pass for $45.
From Scottsbluff: The intersections of Hwy. 71 and Hwy. 26, go three miles north on 71 to Lake Minatare Road. Turn east on Lake Minatare Road and go eight miles to a T at Stonegate Road. Turn left (north) on Stonegate Road for one mile. Turn right into the Lake View entrance immediately after crossing the canal bridge. The office is ½ mile on your right.
From Minatare and Hwy. 26: Turn north on Stonegate Road at the Northeast corner of Minatare. Go nine miles following Stonegate Road to the Lake View entrance, turning right after crossing the canal bridge. The office is ½ mile on your right.
GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
The information in this article has been compiled from:
- Jerry Lucas – VOL Federal Parks Service
- Scottish Mining Records
- Murdoch Family