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 engineer named Anselmo B. Smith located and platted the town. He platted numerous other towns in Nebraska, but it was said that he liked the beauty of this valley so well that he asked to give this town his own name. Many early residents were railroad employees. Anselmo soon added new businesses and became the trading center for a wide area. With a double-decked porch, the City Hotel provided “modern” accommodations for travelers. The first local school opened in 1887, and the local Methodist Church was established that year. St. Anselm’s Catholic Church, often referred to as the “Cathedral of the Sandhills,” was organized in 1905. By the 1920s Anselmo had nearly 500 residents, with thriving businesses that included elevators, a roller mill, livery stables, seven doctors and dentists, general mercantile stores, restaurants, barbers, five banks, and two newspapers.