Pioneers Park

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One of Lincoln's oldest and most loved parks, Pioneers Park, is home to the Pinewood Bowl Theater, miles of multi use trails, playfields, playground areas, public art, and the Pioneers Park Nature Center.

Dedicated in 1930, landscape architect Ernst Herminghaus developed the master plan that guided development of Pioneers Park, including the signature view corridors to the Nebraska State Capitol, and a system of recreational paths. Pioneers Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Acres: 668

History

The Pioneers Park acreage was greatly enlarged in December 1928 by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. John F. Harris in honor of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Harris. When the park was unofficially named Harris Park, the donor requested that it be named Pioneers Park, not only in honor of his parents, but to other pioneers whose faith and foresight was the foundation of all early west, as well as Lincoln. 

Dedicated on July 24, 1930, Pioneers Park is a 600 acre tract of rolling plains skirted by timber. Pioneers Park stands not only as a tribute in name to the early settlers of this region but as a growing monument to later men of that same pioneer stock. 

Public Art

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Mr. John Harris secured a world-famous sculptor, George Gaudet of Paris, to do the life-size bison in bronze which was placed within the park near the main entrance in April of 1930. "Bison" is the center of the formal landscaped Harris Circle, the site is the highest point overlooking the east entrance, and was the converging point of two drives to enter the park from the north and south corners of the east side. The south entrance was later closed in 1945. 

The bronze-colored cast stone statue of Ogalala Lakota Chief Red Cloud. His figure holds a blanket, signaling to his tribesmen.  

In 1935, members of the Omaha, Winnebago, Sioux, and Ponca Native American tribes camped in Pioneers Park to witness the dedication of Ellis Luis Berman’s “Smoke Signal” in the middle of Pioneers Park. It is made of bronzed cast stone. It was erected and finished in Pioneers Park. It is a likeness of Chief Red Cloud, the famous and beloved chief of Nebraska history. The statue itself is about 15 feet tall, weighs about five tons. The statue stands facing away from the city--away from colonization, toward his tribe to the southwest. A fire at his feet and half-raised blanket in his arms are reading for him to give the signal. The structure is on a high natural rock ledge, overlooking the picnic grounds, and at its back the pine forest surrounding the Pinewood Bowl, the whole presenting a natural rustic effect. 

Pinewood Bowl

In this black and white photo, the natural bowl is amplified by the Pines surrounding it. The original stage structure has no back, allowing the priaries to form a stunning natural backdrop.The impressive Pinewood Bowl has been an establishment in Pioneers Park since the early 1940s. The Pinewood Bowl was seen by landscaper, Chet Ager, when he became superintendent of parks in 1931 as a natural amphitheater. He carefully steered its development toward that goal, but he died in 1940 before his dream could be realized.

Work on the construction of the Bowl started on November 20, 1946. It was formally dedicated to the heroic men and women of World War II on July 13, 1947. Pinewood Bowl is a great natural hollow, which has been skillfully shaped for human use. Great floodlights are placed high to accentuate the beauty of the scene and intensify the shadows of the pine trees surrounding the Bowl.A black and white aerial photo of the earliest man made additions to the Pinewood Bowl.

This memorial bowl was sponsored by the Community Singfest Committee, made up of representatives from the Lincoln Ministerial Association and the Women’s Division of the Chamber of Commerce. Fritz Craig was the name architect for the project, and was supervised by Ernst Heminghaus, then the Superintendent of Parks. 

A crowd sits in the green space in front of the Pinewood Bowl stage. Large pine trees fill in the background.

The Pinewood Bowl is approached by a 15-foot walk leading through the pines toward the bowl. Looking down from the crest of the hill, one sees the stage below, set against a background of pines, and three stage wings on each side formed by rows of cedars. The stage has a concrete platform, which is made up of sidewalk slabs from the old Capitol building.

Treasury Building Pillars

As part of a joint bicentennial project for the city of Lincoln, the Parks and Recreation Department and the Junior League of Lincoln, the four Treasury Building Pillars that formerly stood to the north entrance of Antelope Park at 23rd and O Streets were erected at Pioneers Park.

The pillars, originally taken from the United States Treasury Building, were given to the city in 1907 by Cotter T. Bride, a friend of William Jennings Bryan. The pillars are long storied to have sheltered President Abraham Lincoln while he stood on the steps of the Treasury Building reviewing troops during the Civil War. 

For 45 years the pillars stood guard over the entrance to Antelope Park. In 1961 the park land at 23rd and O Streets was sold and the pillars were put in storage until a new place could be found for them.

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The re-erection near the duck pond in Pioneers Park cost $5000. The area was designed to give an aesthetically pleasing effect of ancient ruins. It was installed away from the road to allow a sense of meditation and provide scenic views through original tree-lined vistas to the Capitol, buffalo statue, duck pond, and passing trains. 

The dedication ceremony for the Bicentennial Pillars were held in 1976.

Pioneers Golf Course History

Plans were made in 1930 for the construction of a golf course. Two golf experts from a firm in Kansas City were hired to lay out the three nine-hole courses so arranged that each starts and ends at the clubhouse location, and so designed that they may be played as nine, eighteen, or twenty-seven holes.

Pasture in the far southwest corner for the larger animals--the buffalo, deer, and elk--were fenced, and ponds were improved. A winding road bordered by trees here and there runs its six mile course along the ridges where the view extends far out over the country. 

Later on, the golf course was reduced from its potential for twenty-seven holes to eighteen holes.

  

Park Events

Lincoln Parks and Recreation does not offer rentals or reservations of any space within Pioneers Park including shelters, wedding locations, or Pinewood Bowl. Facilities are on a first-come first-use format.

Pinewood Bowl Theater - Concerts

Surrounded by the natural beauty of evergreens, the venue offers concerts and events under the stars. Pinewood Bowl can accommodate up to 5,500 people.

Pinewood Bowl Theater

The concert series producers, ASM Global and Mammoth, are committed to keeping Pinewood Bowl Theater green.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Carpool to our concerts whenever possible.
  • Ride your bike!  Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department maintains trails that cyclists can travel to Pioneers Park.
  • Please recycle when attending concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater.  Recycling receptacles are located throughout the the venue. Thanks for using them!

2022 Shows

  • Jack White: Sun, June 12, 2022
  • Jake Owen: Thu, June 16, 2022
  • Bon Iver: Sat, June 18, 2022
  • Tom Segura: Wed, July 27, 2022
  • Little Big Town: Thu, July 28, 2022
  • Parker McCollum: Fri, July 29, 2022
  • Goo Goo Dolls - Summer Tour 2022: Sat, July 30, 2022
  • Bonnie Raitt: Tue, August 2, 2022
  • All This Future Summer Festival Tour: Fri, August 5, 2022
  • Dirty Heads: Wed, August 10, 2022
  • ZZ Top: Sun, August 21, 2022
  • Jim Gaffigan: Mon, August 29, 2022
  • Incubus: Fri, September 23, 2022

2021 Shows

  • Jamey Johnson: Fri, June 11, 2021
  • Chicago: Wed, June 23, 2021
  • Styx and Collective Soul: Thu, June 24, 2021
  • Cole Swindell: Fri, June 25, 2021
  • The Avett Brothers and Willie Nelson: Tue, August 10, 2021
  • An Evening with Sheryl Crow: Tue, September 7, 2021
  • 311: Wed, September 8, 2021
  • Shinedown: Wed, September 22, 2021
  • Styx & REO Speedwagon: Tue, May 10, 2022
  • Earth, Wind & Fire: Sat, May 14, 2022

Looking towards the stage, over the heads of concert goers, a band is on stage under strings and lanterns of light.

 

 

 

Pinewood Performing Arts - Musical

Magic Under the Stars Since 1949

Lincoln's unique full production with a live orchestra theater experience at Pinewood Bowl since 1949. Pre-professional workshops, summer outdoor musicals, and community outreach. Visit the Pinewood Performing Arts website to learn more about their programming and to purchase show tickets.

pinewoodbowl.org

Summer Outdoor Musical

Dates:   JULY 14-17 & 21-24, 2022

Pinewood Performing Arts is excited to announce the 2022 summer musical will be: DISNEY'S NEWSIES

Stop the presses! This Disney film turned Tony-winning Broadway hit inspires everyone to fight for what's right and seize the day.

Set in turn-of-the-century New York City, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy, and leader of a band of teenaged "newsies." When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what's right!

Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, Newsies features a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken (Little Shop of Horrors, Sister Act) and Jack Feldman and a book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots). Featuring the now classic songs “Carrying the Banner,” “Seize the Day,” and “Santa Fe,” Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills and a timeless message, perfect for the whole family and every audience.

 

Special Event Information - Running Events

Schedule of Events on the trail

The following events are scheduled in Pioneers Park and may result in restricted access to the equestrian and hiking trails, and access drives. Cross country and other running events will require that the Tallgrass Meadow Loop (blue) be closed. Other events may impact parking areas and cause increased vehicle traffic at crossings.

2022 Running Event Schedule

 

August 20, 25, 26, 27.
September 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 25, 29, 30.
October 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 11, 13, 21, 23.
December 4

 

     

Visitor Information

Commercial Photography in the Park

Lincoln's parks and public gardens have provided beautiful backdrops for generations of family photos. When you or your photographer are taking pictures, we ask that you be mindful of, and minimize disruption to, other park users and garden visitors. Please also take care to avoid damaging any flowers, plantings, turf, or park property.

If your photo shoot is large and/or it could disrupt normal park or public garden operations, you make need to seek a Special Use Permit. If fees for photography services are collected on site, a Permit to Conduct Business may be required. Wedding reservations are available at our wedding designated sites. Please contact 402-441-7847, Ext. 0, or email parks@lincoln.ne.gov, for additional information regarding both Special Use Permit and wedding reservations.

Thank you and enjoy those beautiful pictures!

Pioneers Park Equestrian Trail

Pioneers Park offers a riding experience with a variety of wide views of park space to shaded forest riding. The trail is approximately 2.6 miles and traverses Pioneers Park. Horses are not allowed past the arches at the Pioneers Park Nature Center on the far west of the park.

 

 

  

 

Location

3201 S Coddington Ave., Lincoln 68522  View Map

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