Kearney, Neb., October 2, 2017 – After evaluating the recent damage to the Archway’s earth lodge, a portion of the roof of which caved in on Saturday, May 27, the organization’s board has decided that it is not economically feasible to save the structure. The lodge, which was built using traditional materials and building techniques, has effectively reached the end of its useful life.
“Traditionally, these structures were built on the Plains using the materials that were available,” said Marketing Coordinator Mark Foradori, “and they had a useful life of approximately 7 years. This lodge has been in place for 7 years and most of the supporting posts are rotted to the point where repairing the lodge would mean completely rebuilding it.”
The Archway board consulted with the structure’s original builders and with other organizations that maintain outdoor earth lodges before making its decision. They determined that the only way to save the structure would be to completely dismantle it and rebuild it in a way that would incorporate modern materials and techniques. The costs involved in such a project are prohibitive at this time.
The earth lodge will be removed this fall. The board and staff of the Archway are working to develop an alternative, permanent exhibit that will provide educational information about earth lodges and indigenous culture in the 1840s.
The Archway earth lodge, which is 54 feet in diameter, was originally built in May, 2010. Traditional building materials and methods were observed. Native cottonwood posts were used for support. No nails, screws or adhesives were used in the construction.
Beginning about 500 years ago, communities of 6 -100 earth lodges were common on the Plains. The architecture of the earth lodge reflects the culture and the sensibilities of the people who called it home. Earth lodge homes were typically abandoned after 7-8 years and left to return to the earth and new lodges were constructed to replace them.
Since prehistoric times, the path along the Platte River through Nebraska, once known as the Great Platter River Road, has served as a migratory route across the continent. From the Oregon Trail era to today, the Archway’s family friendly exhibit brings the story of the Great Platte River Road to life. Walk the pioneer trails. See the Pony Express. Experience the Transcontinental Railroad. Hear stories of the Lincoln Highway. Both entertaining and educational, The Archway is a must-see adventure for visitors of all ages.