When Burwell residents put on a local rodeo in 1921, the event was so successful that they made it an annual affair and built a permanent facility. Nebraska’s Big Rodeo (NBR), its official name since 1925, was soon drawing crowds of 20,000…

Scouting was introduced to Papillion in 1913 with the formation of Boy Scout Troop 1. In 1921, the village granted permission to the troop’s scoutmaster, Rev. B. Johansen, to build a log cabin as the troop headquarters. The limestone foundation was…

The Columban Fathers were founded in Ireland by Fathers Edward Galvin (later Bishop) and John Blowick for missionary work in China. Recognized by the Vatican in 1918, the society is named for St. Columban, a sixth-century Irish missionary monk.…

German Lutheran families began settling in the rich valley of the North Fork of the Elkhorn River in 1869, near what became the city of Pierce. These families established their own congregation on October 23, 1871, first meeting in a local sod…

Bowling Lake is named in honor of Captain Russell Bowling whose B-47 bomber crashed while landing at Lakenheath, England, on July 27, 1956. The lake and a lodge were built by the airmen of the Lincoln Air Force Base to provide a nearby source of…

The first Keya Paha County Fair was held in September 1898. Ever since, the center of the fair’s activities has been the Barn Dance. The current fairground was purchased in 1921. A new dance hall was approved in 1929 and built by Fred Taylor. The…

Alkali Station played several important roles as a stopping place on the Overland Trail between 1859 and 1867. Established as a stagecoach relay station, it served as a Pony Express station in 1860-61, then as a base station along the…

The first homestead claim in Howard County was filed on March 11, 1871. St. Paul was appointed the county seat in May, and retained that title over Dannebrog in a close 1874 election. A wooden courthouse was built in St. Paul in 1877. By June 1912,…

On this site stood a boarding high school owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church, founded to give young people in this region an opportunity to receive a Christian education. Attendance peaked at about 200 in the 1980s. Its highly…

On February 5, 1862, Joseph P. Smith, his young sons William and Charles, and his grandchild Alexander Anderson were murdered while collecting logs along the north channel of the Platte River. While relations between Native Americans and white…

First known as the Nebraska Soldiers and Sailors Home, the Grand Island Veterans Home was opened in 1887. The first home was a four-story Victorian building situated on 640 acres. The building soon became inadequate to house the veterans. Between…

Julesburg, Colorado, visible to the southwest, was established as a road ranche, trading post, and stage station in 1859. Located near the junction of several overland routes, Old Julesburg became an important transportation and military center…

Chadron was selected as the site of the fourth Nebraska State Normal School on January 8, 1910, and located on the grounds of the former Chadron Congregational Academy. Classes began in the summer of 1911, concluding with the dedication of the…

Anselmo began as a railroad town along the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. The Burlington needed a stop for water, coal, and switching facilities. It built a depot, and the town itself was platted in November 1886. A Lincoln Land Company…

Deer Park Hotel was located near this site. Established in 1880, the roadhouse was a large building made of native logs. It was built just opposite the Niobrara River from the Fort Niobrara cantonment. The fort, also established in 1880, served the…

Following U.S. entry into World War II, Kearney officials campaigned for establishment of an army air field at the site of the Keens Municipal Airport. Construction of the Kearney Army Air Field (KAAF), one of eleven in Nebraska, was approved on…

The invention of mechanical balers in the mid-1800s led to the use of bales of hay or straw as building blocks. Pioneer builders developed structural bale walls using cuttings of either native prairie flora—baled hay—or of agricultural waste, known…

In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, known as the G.I. Bill of Rights. This ushered in sweeping changes to America’s colleges and universities by paying for the tuition of World War II veterans…

McCormick Hall opened in 1884. It is named for Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper, who donated $5,000 to help finance construction of the building. The first building on the Hastings College campus, it was the intellectual,…

The Salem Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1883. This area, including portions of Kearney, Phelps, and Harlan counties, once had the largest number of Swedish immigrants in rural Nebraska. The original sod church was built in…

On June 24, 1969, 14-year-old Vivian Strong was shot and killed by James Loder, a white police officer, while leaving a party in the Logan Fontenelle public housing complex. Vivian was one of many teenagers at a dance party in a vacant housing unit…

Founded in 1877, Pleasant Hill Cemetery was used until 1918. The cemetery contains graves of Civil War veterans along with other settlers and their children. Pleasant HillUnited Brethren Church stood nearby; it closed in 1962. The Pleasant Hill…

Potter began as a small Union Pacific Railroad settlement and depot midway between Kimball and Sidney. The station house was built by Union Pacific in 1870 and, as the only building in the settlement, also served as the post office and school. Its…

In 1887, Douglas County purchased this 5 ½-acre field from nearby Forest Lawn to use as a cemetery for poor and unidentified people. It was named Potter’s Field, a traditional title from the New Testament. Of 3,912 individuals recorded to have been…

Seven tornadoes struck Grand Island and surrounding areas on the night of June 3, 1980. They were part of a supercell thunderstorm complex that produced eighteen tornadoes from Nebraska to West Virginia. The complex approached Grand Island from…

Like many Nebraska communities, Long Pine’s history is tied to railroad development. When the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley line arrived in 1881, Long Pine became a bustling railroad town. The Chicago & North Western Railroad (CNW)…

The first French people in this area were trappers and traders along the Missouri River. Permanent French settlers began to arrive during the 1850s. Among the early settlers were Julien Bahuaud and the Laurent Bernard, Jean Bize, and Jean Lavigne…

A single willow tree on the banks of Antelope Creek served as a landmark along the Gordon Trail for settlers, fur traders, and Native Americans. In 1885, Reverend John Scamahorn and 104 settlers from Indiana set up camp at the Lone Willow. Later…

Brickmaking in Hastings began in 1878, six years after the town was established. A year later much of the downtown was destroyed by fire in September 1879. Following the fire, the city passed an ordinance requiring future commercial buildings to…