Although the construction of Fort Omaha was completed more than a
century ago, the buildings and grounds today reflect a distinctively
modern attitude and mission.
In early 1868, before the construction of Fort Omaha and after a
major clash between the U.S. Army's Department of the Platte and the
Lakota tribe of Sioux Native Americans, the U.S. government signed a
treaty agreeing that the army would abandon posts along the Bozeman
Trail. To replace the abandoned posts, the army began planning for a
single new post—a place where troops could be stationed and
sent out by rail whenever needed. By this time, the Union Pacific
Railroad reached the Rockies.
Omaha, a young but growing city, recognized the potential for
economic growth and competed with other towns to win the planned
post. The city cited its railroad and river transportation systems
and already established businesses as the support the army would
need. Civic leaders purchased 42 acres of land four miles north of
Omaha from Augustus Kountze, a prominent Omaha banker, and offered to
lease it to the government at an undervalued price for the new
headquarters. The army accepted the offer.
The first structures were wood frame and built facing the
rectangular parade ground of approximately 30 acres. The new post
housed a regiment of more than 650 men. As new buildings were
constructed, the early building arrangement remained.
Fort Omaha's initial purpose was to guard the important pioneer
settlement on the junction of the railroad and the Missouri River.
Steamboats transferred munitions, mules, horses and supplies up the
Missouri to equip Fort Omaha's cavalry units.
When the army required department commanders and officers to live
on the post in 1878, the first brick structure was built for General
George Crook, Commander of the Department of the Platte from
1875-1882. (The Department of the Platte included present-day Iowa,
Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and a portion of southeastern
Idaho.) In his spacious home, General Crook entertained distinguished
guests including presidents of the United States.
Metropolitan Community College received the deed to the 70-acre
site in August 1975, and through extensive renovations and
refurbishing, Fort Omaha became MCC's first permanent campus. MCC's
deed stipulates that the parade ground must be maintained as an open
field and that the exteriors of brick buildings cannot be changed.
The College has preserved Fort Omaha's historic look while creating
an environment conducive to a progressive, two-year college.
Take a virtual walking tour of the
Fort Omaha Campus.