Nebraska, which was admitted to the union as the 37th state on March 1, 1867, two years after the end of the American Civil War, contains some of the nation’s best ranchland and farmland. Prior to its statehood, the Nebraska Territory had been sparsely settled but saw growth during the California Gold Rush in 1848, with a larger wave of settlers arriving as homesteaders in the 1860s. Although the territorial capital of Nebraska was Omaha, when it achieved statehood the seat of government was moved to Lancaster, which was later renamed Lincoln after President Abraham Lincoln, who had recently been assassinated. Nebraska is bounded by South Dakota to the north, Colorado to the South, Wyoming to the West and Iowa and Missouri to the East.
In 1872, J. Sterling Morton proposed a holiday to promote the planting of trees in Nebraska. The first “Arbor Day”—in which an estimated 1 million trees were planted—was celebrated on April 10, 1872. By 1920, 45 states had adopted the holiday.
The world’s largest exhibited mammoth skeleton was found on a farm in Lincoln County in 1922. Originating from the Late Pleistocene Era, “Archie” is on display at the University of Nebraska State Museum.
Nebraska is the only state with a nonpartisan, unicameral legislature. Promoted by Senator George Norris for its efficiency, cost-effectiveness and ability to eliminate secretive conference committee meetings common in bicameral legislatures, Nebraska has been governing by a single-house legislature since 1937.
On June 22, 2003, a record-setting hailstone with a circumference of 18.75 inches fell in Aurora. The storm left craters of up to 14 inches in the ground and caused roughly $500,000 in property damage and one million dollars in crop damage.
Bailey Yard in North Platte is the world’s largest train yard, situated on 2,850 acres of land spanning eight miles. It manages as many as 10,000 rail cars each day and can repair up to 20 cars per hour in its immense locomotive repair shop.
The Ogallala Aquifer, which lies beneath 174,000 square miles of eight states extending from South Dakota down to western Texas, provides almost all of the water for residential, industrial and agricultural use in the High Plains region. Two-thirds of the Ogallala’s total supply comes from Nebraska.