47 Interesting Facts about Nebraska

Last updated on September 5th, 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 47 interesting facts about Nebraska, let us learn more about its history, geography, economy, people, culture, wildlife, and nature, etc.

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 on the 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 and its border states
Nebraska (in red) on the U.S. map with bordering states including Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri. 

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.  Interesting facts about Nebraska
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.

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