82 Interesting Facts About Nebraska

Last updated on December 12th, 2023

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 interesting facts about Nebraska, let us learn more about its history, geography, economy, people, culture, wildlife, and nature, etc.

Facts about Nebraska

1. Origin of the name

The name Nebraska comes from an Oto (also spelled Otoe) Indian word meaning “flat water.”

2. It has two time zones

The state of Nebraska has two time zones. The Panhandle region uses mountain time, while most of the state of Nebraska follows Central Time.

3. 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.

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

After Nebraska became the 37th state in 1867, 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.

Nebraska on the map


5. 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.

6. Many Refugees Have Settled There

In 2022, by the measure of refugee arrivals per 100,000 people in a state, over a 10-year period, Nebraska topped the list, followed by North Dakota, Idaho, Kentucky and South Dakota.

7. 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.

Notice that the words of the Gettysburg Address are on the wall behind Lincoln.
Notice that the words of the Gettysburg Address are on the wall behind Lincoln.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. “Tracing Footsteps: Lewis and Clark’s Journey Through Nebraska in 1804”

Did you know the famous explorers Lewis and Clark traveled through Nebraska in 1804? That was when they were on their way to the West.

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett. Image credit – Javier

11. Warren Buffett and his Success Story

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.

12. 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 an American Muslim minister and human rights activist who became popular during the civil rights movement.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. The town Red cloud in a novel

Another famous person from Nebraska is the author Willa Cather. She is from Red Cloud and used the town in her novel ‘My Antonia.’

17. The father of Scientiology

The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, is originally from Nebraska. The writer and director of BattleField Earth was born in Tilden, Nebraska, on March 13, 1911.

18. Pink hair curlers

Tip Top, an Omaha, Nebraska local company, invented and produced Pink hair curlers. For more than 40 years they were manufactured here.

19. Safety barrier

Project leader Dean Sicking of the University of Nebraska is the person we should tank for the SAFER (the Steel And Foam Energy Reduction Barrier) barrier. It was first used on motor car racing tracks.

20. Fort Atkinson – A National Historic Landmark

One of the first military structures built in Nebraska was Fort Atkinson. The fort was in use from 1820 to 1827.

Locking pliers
Locking pliers. CC BY-SA 3.0

21. The Locking pliers

William Peterson from De Witt. Nebraska invented the locking pliers, or vice grip as it is generally known, in 1924. He sold the first couple he made from the trunk of his car.

22. 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.”

23. 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.

24. The Tree Planter’s State

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

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. Ranch dressing was also created here

The Nebraska native Steven Henson is the one to thank for creating the ranch dressing. It is one of the most popular dressings outside of the state these days.

Kool Aid With Bugs Bunny, 1960's. For facts about Nebraska
Kool Aid With Bugs Bunny, 1960’s

28. 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.

29. Frozen Dinners

Frozen TV dinners were first invented in Nebraska in 1952 by the Swedish immigrant Swanson. The frozen food in an aluminum container became an instant success.

30. The first ski lift

The first ski lift ever made was built in 1936 by the Union Pacific. That was when the Sun Valley Resort was opened, and the first chair lifts started operating.

Giant ball of stamps, Nebraska, United States.
Giant ball of stamps

31. 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 has 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.

32. The world’s largest collection of historical roller skates

Did you know that the National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln, Nebraska, holds the world’s largest collection of historical roller skates dating from 1819?

33. It has the largest weight room

The largest weight room in the US can be found in the West Stadium Strength Complex at the University of Nebraska. It stretches just over three-quarters of an acre.

34. The largest porch swing under a roof

Hebron in Nebraska is home to the largest porch swing under a roof. It was built in 1985 and can hold about 24 adults at the same time.

35. 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).

Nebraska on the map with bordering states

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

36. 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.

37. “The Magnificent Machinery: Exploring North Platte’s Bailey Yard”

The eight-mile Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska, is the largest railroad classification in the world. As many as 14000 train cars pass through it every day.

38. 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.

39. 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.

40. 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.

41. Center-pivot irrigation system was invented in 1940 in Nebraska

Frank Zybach, a Nebraska farmer, invented the center-pivot irrigation system in 1940. His invention changed and improved farming production, especially in semi-arid regions.

42. 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.

a mammoth fossil
Image credit – James St. John

43. 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.

44. It has a Notable National Monument

Located in western Nebraska, the Scotts Bluff Monument is a prominent landmark along the Mormon and Oregon Trails. These were a couple of key landmarks, particularly throughout the nineteenth century.

45. 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.

46. The Nebraska Sandhills

The Nebraska Sandhills are some of the biggest formations in the Western Hemisphere. Some of these dunes are 20 miles long and 400 feet high.

47. 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.

Linoma beach lighthouse on the Platte River in Nebraska
The Linoma beach lighthouse on the Platte River in Nebraska! Image credit – Jack Silver

48. It has a Lighthouse 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.

49. 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.

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

The Japanese exploded a balloon 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.

51. Extreme weather

It is also true that Nebraska is in the middle of Tornado Alley. That is because of the climate mix of this area that causes some extreme weather conditions.

52. The heat wave in history

A heat wave struck Nebraska in 1934, where temperatures of over 100 degrees were recorded. On June 15, a high temperature of 118 degrees was recorded in Geneva.

53. Freezing cold

The lowest temperature in Nebraska was in 1989, on December 22, in Oshkosh. The temperature dropped to a freezing -47 degrees Fahrenheit on that day.

54. 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.

55. 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.

corn harvest in Nebraska
A small part of a huge pile of harvested corn (Zea mays) being stored on the ground pending shipping to market

56. 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.

57. Licorice import

The largest licorice importer and retailer in America is in Lincoln, Nebraska. Licorice International has become a popular destination since it opened in 2005.

58. “Pioneering Legacy: Bellevue, Nebraska, and the Fur Trade Origins”

The fur trade is the reason for the existence of the oldest town in Nebraska. Bellevue was established in 1822 and is still an influential location in the US today.

59. The home of the Runza fast-food chain

The home of the Runza fast-food chain is right here in Nebraska. Even though you may find a few restaurants elsewhere, this is where it all started.

60. Official state soft drink

On May 21, 1998, Gov. Ben Nelson declared Kool-Aid to be the official state soft drink.

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