Inside: These 75 Facts About Nebraska just might surprise you!
1. As travelers on the Oregon Trail passed through Nebraska, one landmark was mentioned in their journals more than any other. That was the famous “Chimney Rock”.
2. The popular drink “Kool-Aid” was invented in 1927 in Hastings, Nebraska, by Edwin Perkins. No surprise then that it is Nebraska’s “Official State Soft Drink”.
3. The actual name “Nebraska” comes from the Otoe Indians of the area. It means “flat water” which refers to the Platte River.
4. With over 90 waterfalls, the Niobrara River is a top destination for canoeing enthusiasts.
5. The first community to install the 9-1-1 emergency communication system was Lincoln, Nebraska.
6. Just north of Alliance, Nebraska, you’ll find “Carhenge”. It’s a replica of Stonehenge in England but created with 38 automobiles. The vehicles have been put together with the same dimensions and shape as the original Stonehenge.
7. Ranked as one of the top five states in agricultural output, Nebraska is best known for producing cattle, soybeans, corn, wheat, and hogs.
8. Despite having more miles of river than any other state, Nebraska was once referred to as “The Great American Desert”.
9. During World War Two, the towns of Fort Robinson and Weeping Water were homes to German Prisoner of War camps.
10. The famous Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is home to the world’s largest indoor rainforest, as well as an impressive array of exotic birds and animals.
11. Famous actors Henry Fonda and Marlon Brando were both products of Nebraska. What is less known is that Marlon’s mother gave Henry acting lessons at the Omaha Community Playhouse.
12. Not all brawn, the University of Nebraska football team has turned out more Academic All-Stars than any other school in their division.
13. The highest natural point in Nebraska is “Panorama Point” located in Kimball County, at 5,424 feet.
14. The holiday known as “Arbor Day” was begun in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. Approximately one million trees were planted across the state that day.
15. Covering over 90,000 acres, the Nebraska National Forest is one of the largest hand-planted forests in the world.
16. In case the subject should come up in conversation, the World’s Largest Porch Swing is located in Hebron, Nebraska. It will comfortably seat 25 adults.
17. The largest mammoth skeleton on display anywhere in the world is “Archie”. He resides at the University of Nebraska State Museum and stands 14 feet tall.
18. Along with Malcolm X, and William Jennings Bryan, Nebraska also gave us Fred Astaire, Johnny Carson, and President Gerald Ford.
19. The stadium where the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football is capable of seating over 90,000 fans. This means that on game days, the stadium becomes the third most populated area in the state.
20. The Navy’s largest ammunition depot during World War Two was located on 49,000 acres in Clay and Adams counties. It provided approximately 40% of the ammunition used in the war.
21. Despite the growth of various other industries in Nebraska, farms and ranches still take up 92% of the total land area.
22. Although it is completely land-locked, Nebraska still has a well-known lighthouse. It is located in Ashland and looks out over a nearby 40-acre lake.
23. Nebraska is not a crowded state; while in size it is the 16th largest state in the Union, in population, it ranks 37th.
24. Because Nebraska was the state that began the Arbor Day celebration, it was initially known and “The Tree Planter’s State”. That title was replaced in 1945 when it became “The Cornhusker State”.
25. The official state insect of Nebraska is the beloved Honey Bee.
26. If Nebraska had a State Sandwich, it would very likely be the Runza. It’s a German-Russian pocket bread creation stuffed with beef, onions, and cabbage. There is even a state-wide restaurant chain called Runza with over 80 locations.
27. The state government in Nebraska is unique in that it is the only state with a Unicameral form of government. This means that there is only one house that serves its citizens. It switched from a bicameral government in 1934.
28. Nebraska has part of the Oregon Trail running through it, and visitors can actually hike a portion of it.
29. Not surprisingly, the Nebraska State American Folk Dance is the “Square Dance”. Numerous Square Dance competitions are held throughout the state each year. The longest marathon square dance calling (28 hours!), took place in Norfolk, Nebraska in May of 2000.
30. In June of 2003 a storm in Aurora dropped a record hailstone which was 18.75 inches in circumference.
31. In the past, Nebraska has had some interesting laws on the books. One law from the 1800s forbid merchants from selling “donut holes” in the town of Lehigh. Meanwhile, in Waterloo, barbers are not allowed to eat onions between the hours of 7AM and 7PM. In the town of Blue Hill, no female may be seen eating onions in public while wearing a hat that would scare a timid person.
32. The beloved “Reuben” sandwich had its roots in Omaha in the 1920s. It was originally created by Reuben Kulakofsky as a snack for his poker buddies at the Blackstone Hotel. It eventually became part of the regular menu at the hotel.
33. Chef Boyardee, whose products have fed generations of Americans, is immortalized by a six-foot-tall statue in Omaha.
34. Nebraska officially became the 37th state in the Union on Friday, March 1st, 1867.
35. You’d never guess it today, but between 66 and 99 million years ago, three-quarters of Nebraska was covered by an inland sea known as the Western Interior Seaway.
36. At 2,850 acres, the Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte is the largest railroad classification yard in the world.
37. When the first French trappers came into Nebraska it was populated by over 40,000 indigenous people. They were from the Omaha, Missouria, Ponca, Pawnee, and Otoe tribes as well as various branches of the Lakota Sioux.
38. The biggest weight room in America is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. How big is it? It covers a little over three-quarters of an acre.
39. The top paid attendance attraction in Nebraska is the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Among other attractions, it offers one of the world’s largest indoor deserts which is housed by the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world
40. On May 22, 2004 a tornado in Hallam, Nebraska touched down, creating the world record for a damage path at 2.49 miles in width.
41. In order to announce their new partnership with Coca-Cola, fast-food chain Arby’s created the world’s largest billboard to share their news. Located in Monowi, Nebraska (the smallest town in America, with a population of one), the billboard was over 211,000 square feet and read, simply, “Arby’s Now Has Coke”.
42. Nebraska’s Chadron State College, along with Creative Dining Services, set the record for the longest line of tacos in April of 2017. This not only set a world record but also fed over 2,000 people in Chadron.
43. The highest temperature in Nebraska was 118 degrees in Minden on July 24, 1936.
44. One of their favorite hangouts, the Platte River, is home to over a half a million sandhill cranes between February and April.
45. The lowest recorded temperature in Nebraska was a bone-chilling 47 degrees below zero. It was recorded in Bridgeport on February 12, 1899.
46. With all the rivers in Nebraska, fishing is very popular. To keep the sportsmen happy there are five state fish hatcheries, with the biggest one in Burwell.
47. Congress created the Nebraska Territory in 1854, which opened the area to settlement.
48. The first permanent settlement in Nebraska was Bellevue, which started as a fur-trading post in 1823.
49. Nebraska’s first library was started in 1820 at the Fort Atkinson military outpost.
50. Since there were very few trees with which to build shelters, the early Nebraska settlers would cut hunks out of the prairie sod and use them as bricks for building their homes. These houses were known as “soddies” and, if properly maintained, provided reliable shelter from the elements.
51. Settlers came to the Cornhusker state from many countries, bringing their heritage and customs with them. The town of Dannebrog celebrates its Danish roots with Grundlovsfest. Wilber residents have a Czech Days festival, and Syracuse has a Germanfest celebration.
52. If you want to experience life as a settler in early Nebraska, visit the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island. It is a replica of the typical towns that would spring up along the rapidly-expanding railroad lines in the mid-1800s.
53. In 1862 Congress passed the Homestead Act. This was a boon to early settlers since all it required was for them to build a house and grow crops on 160 acres. After five years of working the land, it became theirs.
54. William Cody, better known as “Buffalo Bill” had his ranch in North Platte, Nebraska where he organized the first rodeo, called the “Old Glory Blowout”, in 1882. Always the showman, he toured the world with his famous “Wild West” show.
55. The Union Pacific Railroad, part of the transcontinental railroad, was completed across Nebraska in 1867.
56. Offutt Air Force Base near Ashland and Bellevue is home to the U.S. Strategic Command (formerly the Strategic Air Command) and is open for tours. There is also an Aerospace Museum there.
57. During World War II troop trains made a regular stop in North Platte. Soldiers were greeted and fed by a number of local volunteers at what became known as the North Platte Canteen. It is estimated that around six million enlisted men enjoyed this Nebraska welcome
58. One of the largest and most successful non-profit child and family care organizations in the country is Boys Town, located just outside Omaha. Begun in 1917 by Father Edward Flanagan, Boys Town helped change the way orphaned and neglected children were treated.
59. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark started their adventures into the American west, known as “The Corps of Discovery” at the eastern boundary of Nebraska, the Missouri River. Their trip was an 8,000-mile roundtrip.
60. A favorite “Tall Tale” of Nebraskans is how Febold Feboldson created the straight southern border of the state. The story says he crossed honeybees with eagles to create the “Beeagle”. He harnessed it to a plow and made a “beeline” for the southern border.
61. Willa Cather, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is from Red Cloud, Nebraska.
62. The state flag of Nebraska, commissioned in 1925, consists of the state seal in gold and silver on a field of blue. The seal is comprised of various elements such as a settler’s cabin and sheaves of wheat to represent Nebraska’s agricultural heritage. The state motto: Equality Before the Law” is also included in the seal.
63. Along with other meat products, the well-known American staple Spam is produced in Fremont, Nebraska.
64. Nebraska’s capital city was once named Lancaster, after the town in Pennsylvania. A move was initiated to rename the city Lincoln in honor of the recently assassinated President.
65. Although the bulk of the state was included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, western Nebraska was actually acquired by treaty following the war with Mexico in 1848.
66. The largest aquifer in the U.S. is the Ogallala Aquifer, located in western Nebraska. If it was spread out, it would cover all 50 United States with 1.5 feet of water.
67. Nebraskan, Clifton Hillegass purchased a set of notes on Shakespeare and expanded the idea to other literary works, giving us Cliffs Notes.
68. Nebraska is both the largest producer and the largest user of center-pivot irrigation systems.
69. Before becoming the “Cornhuskers”, the Nebraska State University football team were known variously as The Antelopes, The Rattlesnake Boys, The Old Gold Knights, and, almost unbelievably, The Bugeaters.
70. In 1922 Charles Lindbergh (“Lucky Lindy”) began his flying career with lessons at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation’s flying school in Lincoln.
71. The building housing the corporate headquarters of Mutual of Omaha has seven of its floors underground.
72. Manufacturing in Nebraska includes a number of products ranging from pharmaceuticals and mobile homes to electronic components and farm machinery.
73. Since 1950, Omaha has been the site of the College World Series.
74. On April 18, 1945, the Dundee section of downtown Omaha came under enemy attack from the Japanese when a balloon bomb exploded in mid-air. There was no damage and no casualties, but the “attack” was kept secret until after the war.
75. Geographically, Kearney, Nebraska is located at the exact halfway mark between San Francisco and Boston.