Nebraska Facts

… For over a century the area of the wide Platte Valley has functioned as the highway to the West… yet the state of Nebraska is so more than merely a pathway to the West… this is a land where the old Wild West continues to mingle with the most modern of civilizations… impressive herds of cattle… superhighways have replaced the Old Oregon Trail… the land where nuclear reactors are powering modern industries… where modern-day cities have grown where once the tracks of Mormon wagons… some of the world’s finest museums… music festivals and other cultural attractions are everywhere to be found…

At one time Nebraska was named part of ‘the vast American desert’, but the state has changed into a great land of impressive farms only because its early settlers brought with them determination and spirit. In the state’s western region you can find great wheat fields for as far as your eyes can see, and in the north-central region, enormous herds of beef cattle are being raised on huge ranches. In Nebraska’s eastern portions you can find crops like grain, corn, sorghum, just to mention a few.

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Only Nebraska has a nickname that is based on a college football team, the Cornhuskers of the University of Nebraska, where football is so popular that when a home game is played on Saturday, the team’s Lincoln stadium becomes Nebraska’s ‘third-largest city’ (after Omaha and … Lincoln). The university’s athletic prowess gets nicely balanced though by notable cultural and civic institutions.

Quick Facts about Nebraska

– Nation’s first Homestead grant (claimed in Nebraska in 1862).
– Nebraska’s Capitol ranks among the 10 greatest buildings in the world.
– Leads the nation in alfalfa and other hay production.
– Nebraska leads America in the meat processing and packing industry.
– The state is home to the largest health & accident insurance firm in the world.
– More than 35 insurance companies headquarters in Nebraska.

Nebraska brief history

A group of Navajo Indians came back to the Spanish-controlled southwestern part of the region in 1699 (most likely from the South Platte valley), and they were carrying trophies that indicated that French settlers were in that area. Pedro de Villasur, trying to drive out the French, attacked them but he got killed on the Platte River in 1720.

The Platte River was given its name probably by the French brothers Pierre Antoine and Paul Mallet. and Paul Mallet during their visit of 1739. They followed the Platte River on their journey south to Santa Fe. In 1803, the region came under American rule as it was part of the Louisiana Purchase.

In July of 1804, the great expedition of explorers Lewis and Clark reached the mouth of the Platte River entering Sioux Territory. The expedition made the last camp in Nebraska on September 7th of that year to continue further up the Missouri River, and in 1806, they cam back down the river on their way back east.

Manuel Lisa, an American fur trader, was following the explorers and he founded a fur trading post in the area in 1807. Zebulon Pike organized a ceremony for 400 Indian tribesmen on the Republican River, where he lowered the Spanish flag and made the Indian people swear allegiance to the U.S.

It wasn’t long before Nebraska became the ‘highway to the West’ and in the winter of 1846-47, over 6,000 faithful Mormon were crossing the Nebraska plains on their journey to the ‘promised land’ in Utah.

The following major crossing of Nebraska’s land came in 1889 when the news of gold in California brought a huge number of gold-seekers (named ‘forty-niners’, as in ‘1849’). At the time of the Civil War, Nebraska was having a population of just over 30,000, and of these residents, more than 3,300 served in that war.

Daniel Freeman (of Beatrice) was America’s first recipient of Nebraska land which was granted under the Homestead Act in 1862. President Andrew Johnson was vetoing the 1866 Nebraska statehood bill, but the U.S. Congress overrode this veto, so Nebraska became a state in the Union in 1867, on March 1st, and President William McKinley opened the Mississippi International Exposition in Omaha in 1898.

More than 47,000 Nebraskans served in World War I and a little over 1,000 lost their lives. Nebraska became (inter)national news when it installed its unique one-house legislature, consisting of just a Senate. During World War II over 120,000 Nebraska residents went to war and almost 3,850 died during that horrific conflict.