Nebraska, the Cornhusker State, didn’t join the Union until two years after the Civil War. It became the 37th state on March 1, 1867. Its name came from the Otoe Indians and means “flat water.” They called it that because of the Platte River, which is very long and shallow.
The capital city was Omaha, but it was moved to Lancaster. During the Civil War, much of the area sided with the Confederacy. After the war, a Nebraska official wanted to keep the capital in Omaha and devised a plan. He suggested renaming Lancaster to Lincoln, in honor of Abraham Lincoln, the Union president who had been assassinated. The lawmaker hoped Southern sympathizers would be outraged, but the plan failed, and the capital was moved to the renamed town of Lincoln.
Americans started to settle the area in the 1840s using the Oregon Trail. Much of the land at that time had been set aside as Indian Territory, but settlers ignored the boundaries and built their homes on the land. The Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 created the Nebraska Territory and then the Homestead Acts during the 1860s really saw a movement of settlers to the area.
- In 1927, Edwin Perkins ran a small mail-order business in Hastings. He sold things through the mail. One of the things he sold was a fruit syrup called Fruit Smack. The bottles kept breaking while on the road, so he invented a concentrated powder. Now we call it Kool-Aid.
- Nebraska has its own version of the English landmark Stonehenge. Just north of Alliance is the Carhenge, a monument that looks like Stonehenge but made of 38 old cars.
- Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show was developed in North Platte. Buffalo Bill’s home, Scout’s Ranch, is still there. A state historical park now sits on 25 of the original 4,000 acres that he owned.