42 Interesting Facts about Nebraska

Last updated on February 14th, 2020

Nebraska is the 37th most populous and the 16th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. The state attained statehood on March 1, 1867, becoming the 37th state to join the union. Its six bordering states are Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Nebraska (nicknamed: Beef State, Cornhusker State) has 93 counties. The state’s capital is Lincoln. The postal abbreviation for Nebraska is NE. With these facts about Nebraska, let us learn more about its history, geography, economy, people, culture, wildlife, and nature, etc.

42 Facts about Nebraska

1. The Reuben Sandwich Originated There

Traditionally, the ingredients of a Reuben sandwich are Swiss cheese, corned beef, Russian dressing and sauerkraut. Reuben Kulakofsky, a grocer from Lithuania who lived in Omaha, reportedly invented the sandwich sometime between 1920 and 1935.

2. Many Refugees Have Settled There

Rather surprisingly, Nebraska is a popular place with refugees, who move to America from impoverished and war torn countries. In 2013, nearly 1000 refugees settled in the state, which helps eighty percent of those who arrive find employment within a couple of months.

Nebraska and its border states
Nebraska (in red) on the U.S. map.

3. It has a Huge Football Stadium

The Cornhuskers’ stadium has a seating capacity of over 90,000. When games are played in it, it becomes one of Nebraska’s most populated places, trailing only Lincoln (268,000) and Omaha (434,000).20

4. Kool Aid was Invented here

Based in Hastings, Edwin Perkins developed the Kool Aid juice drink in 1927. He converted his ‘Fruit Smack’ syrup into powdered Kool Aid, which made it easier to ship. On May 21, 1998, Gov. Ben Nelson declared Kool-Aid to be the official state soft drink.12,13

5. European Powers Have Fought Over it

France and Spain both wanted control of the area now called Nebraska, which damaged relations between these countries. A Spanish expedition to the area in 1720 was slain by fighters allied to the French, from the Otoe and Pawnee tribes.

6. It has a Huge Forest

The National Forest in Nebraska is America’s biggest hand planted forest, which covers 141,159 acres (57,125 hectares) of land. J. Sterling Morton introduced a state holiday in 1872, to encourage tree planting in the state. Forty-five other states had followed suit by 1920.

7. It has a Notable National Monument

Situated in western Nebraska, the Scotts Bluff Monument features on the Mormon and Oregon Trails. These were a couple of key landmarks, particularly throughout the nineteenth century.

8. You can see Stonehenge, With a Difference

In Alliance, the ‘Carhenge’ site has thirty-nine automobiles arranged to imitate Stonehenge. Jim Reinders was the artist who produced this sculpture, as a tribute to his late father.21 

9. It has Lighthouses Without Sea

Nebraska is far from the sea, but it has a lighthouse in Ashland – the Linoma Beach Lighthouse. This graces a forty acre lake and was built more than seventy-five years ago.23

10. Like Pearl Harbor, it was Bombed During the Second World war

The Japanese exploded a bomb over Dundee, which is part of Omaha, in April 1945. Happily, it only caused limited damage, and the incident was not reported until the end of the war.22

Nebraska on the map

11. Nebraska is triply land-locked

Nebraska is the only triply land-locked U.S. state, which means that to reach an ocean, gulf, or bay from Nebraska, one must travel through at least three states.1

12. Unicameral legislature

Nebraska is the only state in the U.S. whose legislature is unicameral and nonpartisan. A unicameral parliament or unicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of one chamber or house.17

13. World’s largest stamp ball 

The world’s largest stamp ball can be seen at the Leon Myers Stamp Center at Boys Town in Nebraska. The core of the stamp ball is believed either to be a pencil stub or a golf ball. The ball is made up of cancelled stamps; and just after two years of sticking the cancelled stamps together; in 1955, the ball grew 32 inches in diameter and weighed 600 pounds. It is estimated that the ball is made up of 4,655,000 cancelled stamps. The ball also a huge fan following. Some visitors are reported to have visited the place from more than 100 miles away just to have a close look at the ball. The visitors can touch the ball but are not allowed to take away or add any stamps to it.2

14. 70 residents in the nation’s smallest city hall 

The nation’s smallest city hall is in Maskell, Nebraska. It is a 10 foot by 12 foot structure and has been the dwelling place of roughly 70 residents since 1930s.3

15. Corn and livestock

The amount of land used to produce corn and livestock in Nebraska is greater than in any other state in the U.S.

16. Malcolm X 

Malcolm X (one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history) was born in Omaha, Nebraska in May, 1925. He was a American Muslim minister and human rights activist who became popular during the civil rights movement.16

17. Agriculture is a dominant industry

Almost all (91%) of Nebraska is farmland. 1 in 4 jobs in Nebraska are related to agriculture. The state has nearly 80,000 miles of rivers and streams that add to the state’s natural resources.15

18. Origin of the name

The name Nebraska comes from an Oto Indian word meaning “flat water.”14

19. Why is it called cornhusker?

The nickname “cornhusker state” comes from the fact that in earlier times, the locals used to harvest the corn by hand “husking” before machinery was used. Nebraska is the only state to bear a nickname based on a college football team – the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.11,12

20. Before Lincoln, Omaha was the state’s capital

After Nebraska became the 37th state in 1967, the town of Lancaster was made the capital and was later renamed Lincoln in the honor of the 16th president of the United States Abraham Lincoln. Before Lincoln, Omaha was the state’s capital.

21. The land rush 

Before Nebraska became a state in the U.S. union, it passed the Homestead Act in 1862. The act allowed the white settlers to claim-and keep-a “section” of 160 acres of land if they worked for five years to develop it. However, there were other conditions that were to be satisfied to claim the land. The act brought a rush of settlers to the state.10

22. The Tree Planter’s State

Until 1945, Nebraska was known as the “Tree Planter’s State.”9

a mammoth fossil
Image credit – James St. John

23. Mammoth fossils are in abundance here

State can also be considered as the burial ground of fossils because it is considered that as many as ten mammoth fossils are buried under an average square mile of land in Nebraska. Note that mammoth bones have been found in all 93 state counties. The University of Nebraska State museum displays the bones of the largest mammoth discovered in the state.8

24. The largest irrigated area

Nebraska has the largest share of U.S. irrigated area with 8.3 million acres (14.9 percent). It is the largest producer of center pivots in the world. Nebraska has more than 100,000 registered irrigation wells and an additional 16,000 registered water wells.7,24,25  

25. A 15 year old aviator

At the age of 15, Evelyn Sharp became the youngest female pilot in the United States. She made her living as an aerial stunt performer. “Sharpie” made her first solo flight at age 15, and got her private pilot’s license on her 17th birthday, and a year later had a commercial transport pilot’s license.6

26. A structure at least 23 million years old is still in use today as a navigation aid

A natural geologic formation, designated the Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Chimney Rock is one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks for pioneer travelers on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. The structure is considered to have been formed 34 to 23 million years ago. The top of the structure looks like a chimney and hence the name. The spire stretches to a height of 325 feet from its base.4

27. A million trees in a day

On April 10th, 1872, more than a million trees were planted in Nebraska. In 2019, Ethiopia started a tree planting spree by planting more than 350 million trees in a day. However, this numbers has not been confirmed by any official sources. The move was motivated by the country’s prime minster. The country aims at planting more than four billion trees in 2019. The current world record holder for planting the most trees (50 million) in one day is India.5

28. Hailstone rains

With a diameter of 7 inches, a hailstone which fell in Aurora, Nebraska, during a June 22, 2003 storm was one of the largest hailstorms in the U.S. history. It held the distinction of being the largest hailstone in U.S. until July 23, 2010, when an 8 inch diameter hailstone fell near Vivian, S.D.18,19

29. He Declined the Best Actor Award at the 1973 Academy Award

Marlon Brando, Jr. was among the most influential and famous actors of the latter part of the 20th Century. On March 27, 1973, Brando was a ‘no show’ at the Academy Awards.  Sacheen Littlefeather, an activist for Native American rights and Apache actress, went in his place to decline the award for his role in The Godfather. This was in protest of the portrayal of Native Americans.

30. His Success Started Early

A native of Nebraska, Warren Buffett, who is also known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” is a philanthropist, business magnate and an investing legend. At 11 years old, Buffett bought stock and at age 16, he had accumulated over $53,000 from various investments and business ventures.

Even as a youngster, he was an incredibly hard worker. His gigs included delivering The Washington Post daily, which brought in approximately $175 per month. In those days, that was more than the majority of teachers made.

31. Michael Jackson Was an Idol of His

Michael Jackson dedicated his autobiography, Moonwalk, to Astaire and highlighted the time he was called by Astaire, after an especially impressive television performance, who congratulated him. Astaire was very impressed with the “exceptional” way Michael Jackson moved and expressed it to him in a comical yet sincere manner, which was well received by Jackson. According to Michael Jackson: The Golden Book of Condolence, Astaire has been quoted as referring to Jackson as “the greatest dancer of the century.”

32. Popular On and Off the Court

Roddick has been featured on a number of magazine covers; Rolling Stone and Vogue are only two of the non-sports magazines on which covers he has appeared. Andy Roddick and Chris Evert are the only two tennis tennis players to host Saturday Night Live. Additionally, in December 2003, People Magazine named him the Sexiest Athlete and he was among their Sexiest Men in 2006.

33. She Impressively Moved Up the Career Ranks in the 1940s and 1950s

Born in Omaha on October 21, 1924, Julie May Wilson joined the “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” chorus early in the 1940s.  Along with the show, she traveled to New York and worked as a chorus girl at the Latin Quarter and the Copacabana.  With a role in the revue “Three to Make Ready,” Wilson made her debut on Broadway in 1946.

34. Lincoln – the capital!

Lincoln City has the mildest maritime climates. Unlike other parts of Oregon which may have disagreeable weather, Lincoln will remain a desirable tourist destination. Even during the winter weather, the cold never gets too extreme at this location.

35. Are you a surfer?

Lincoln is the ideal destination for lovers of surfing and kiting. In summer, the location experiences winds from the Northwest and in winter it experiences winds from Southwest direction, which makes it perfect for flying kites or surfboarding.

A Surfer riding on the waves

36. A statue of Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln City has a memorial statue of Abraham Lincoln on the NE 22nd Street. The statue is an honor to the famed president and as a uniting symbol to the seven communities of Oregon coast that united in 1964 forming the incredible city.

37. Influx of people

Lincoln City has a shifting population all year round. It records all-time-highs in population during the summer times when people come in massively from across the country and the entire globe.

38. Nature’s hot spot

Lincoln is positioned perfectly on the coast of Central Oregon. To its West, it neighbors the Pacific Ocean and the East neighbors both the Coast Range and the Devil’s Lake. This makes the place ideal for all nature lovers.

39. A test before marriage

In Omaha, there is strict legislation that even extends to the entire state of Nebraska, which proscribes anyone tested positive for gonorrhea from marrying. This requires tests being carried to establish the condition of both marrying parties before they are married.

40. Beer and soup

All owners of bars in Omaha are required to sell beer while they prepare soup. Beer sellers have to brew soup for the clientele sipping on the beer. It is legislation, and no beer seller can get away with it.

41. This connects Iowa and Nebraska

Omaha is renowned to be the home for a 3000-foot bridge. The humongous and attractive bridge over Missouri River links more than 150 miles of biking and hiking trails. It is the linking bridge between the states of Iowa and Nebraska. It opened on September 28, 2008.

42. A rain forest in a zoo

Omaha is home to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. It is one of the best and renowned zoos in the word. This zoo is home to the largest indoor rainforest in North America, the largest indoor desert in the world, and the largest world glazed geodesic dome.

Nebraska – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationNE
Table last updated29th Dec, 2019
State CapitalLincoln
Largest CityOmaha
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 77,354 sq miles; Land Only: 76,872 sq miles
Population
1,920,076
(Estimate July 1, 2017 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodMarch 1, 1867
State rank by population37th
State rank by date of formation37th
State rank by area16th
Number of Counties93
DemonymNebraskan
Bordering StatesColorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Wyoming
Official LanguageEnglish
Highest PointPanorama Point
5,424 ft (1654 m)
Lowest pointMissouri River at Kansas border 840 ft (256 m)
Length 430 miles (690 km)
Width210 miles (340 km)
GovernorPete Ricketts (R)
Electoral Votes5
State MottoEquality before the law
State NicknameCornhusker State; Beef State
% Water0.7
Noble prize WinnersGeorge Beadle (Physiology or Medicine, 1958)
Lawrence R. Klein (Economic Sciences, 1980)
Val Fitch (Physics, 1980)
Famous peopleMick Tingelhoff (Pro Football player)
Wade Boggs (Baseball player)
Hilary Swank
(Actress)
U.S. President Born in Nebraska1. Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr.
State Flag

Flag of Nebraska

State seal

Nebraska-StateSeal.svg

State coat of arms

Nebraska state coat of arms (illustrated, 1876).jpg

State quarter

Nebraska quarter

State BirdWestern meadowlark
State FishChannel Catfish
State FlowerGoldenrod
State FossilMammoth
State GrassLittle bluestem
State GemstoneBlue agate
State InsectHoneybee
State MammalWhite-tailed Deer
State RockPrairie Agate
State TreeCottonwood
Longitude95° 19' W to 104° 03' W
Latitude40° N to 43° N
Time ZoneCentral Time Zone, Mountain Time Zone
Websitewww.nebraska.gov
Area Codes308, 402