August 3, 2012

Nebraska – “The Cornhusker State”

Nebraska Map


Just the Facts…


bird – Western Meadowlark
flower – Goldenrod
tree – Cottonwood
capital – Lincoln
union – 37th state on March 1, 1867
population – a little over 1.5 million



The Basics 

Nebraska is part of America’s Great Plains.  It is in the central part of the country and is mostly prairie – meaning, flat with very few trees.  As a result, Nebraska is susceptible to severe weather, especially tornados – part of it is in “Tornado Alley.”  Severe weather moves through the flat land, without anything like mountains or larger bodies of water to break it up.

The name “Nebraska” comes from a Native American language, and means “flat water.”  It is thought that more than 15 Native America tribes used to live in Nebraska.  Now, six tribes have reservations located in Nebraska.


 Its Claim to Fame

The “West” begins in Nebraska – the state was populated when people started going west during the Goldrush.  Quite a few trails heading west crossed through Nebraska.  And, the original transcontinental railroad ran through Nebraska – Union Pacific Railroad is based in Omaha (it is a big railroad hub).  The world’s largest train yard is in North Platte, sometimes called “Rail Town USA.”  And, the biggest train yard in North Platte is called “Bailey Yard” (its owned by Union Pacific).

The first homesteaded farm was in Nebraska.  Daniel Freeman was the first farmer to receive title to his land through the Homestead Act – his farm was along Cub Creek and near the town of Beatrice, Nebraska.   Now, there is a museum to mark the famous spot.  The Homestead Act lured many immigrants to America – people in Europe heard about the land that was being given away in America and took a long journey over the ocean to try to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Before the Homestead Act, the American government kept buying up as much land as it could – 270 million acres over the years!  Many people felt it was America’s Manifest Destiny to extend from ocean to ocean.  Then, in the middle of the Civil War, the government decided it was time to settle all the land that it purchased.  Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act in 1862.  It provided that any US citizen age 21 or older, male or female, could file a application for 160 acres (a quarter-mile on each side) of unclaimed land in the public domain.  If the settler built a house and dug a well on that land, farmed it, and lived there for the next five years, he “proved up” the claim and the title passed to him.

What Makes it Tick

Nebraska is home to more cattle than people!  The flat prairie of Nebraska is perfect for raising cattle – they can graze on all that prairie grass.   According to the Nebraska Beef Council, there are almost 2 million head of beef cattle in Nebraska – that is more than Nebraska’s total population!  So, maybe the last steak you had for dinner was from Nebraska, or a burger, or barbeque ribs.  Nebraska also raises bison – have you ever had a Bison burger?   They are scrumptious!

Nebraska is the cornhusker state – so it stands to reason that A LOT of corn is grown there!  But, very little of it is sweet corn that we eat – otherwise known as corn-on-the-cob.  Most of Nebraska’s corn is made into feed for livestock, such as cattle, pigs, and chickens.  In addition, Nebraska corn is made into products such as ethanol and bioplastics.  Nebraska also grows a lot of soybeans, wheat and sugar beets.


If You Visited

If you visited Nebraska, you might attend the Kool-Aid Festival!  Kool-aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska.  A man named Edward Perkins invented the drink in his mother’s kitchen!  The town of Hastings holds a “Kool-Aid” festival in August every year to celebrate its famous drink.

Arbor Day was started in Nebraska.  Arbor Day is a state holiday in Nebraska – no one goes to work.  Julius Morton came up with the idea of Arbor Day – he felt that Nebraska could benefit from more trees!  He planted orchards and windbreaks on his farm and encouraged others to do the same.  Once he became a member of Nebraska’s Board of Agriculture, he was able to encourage his idea on a bigger scale – and Arbor Day was created!  On the first Arbor Day, more than one million trees were planed in Nebraska!


Want to Know More? 

Check our Nebraska state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Nebraska?  Or, maybe you have visited Nebraska?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Nebraska?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Nebraska to share? Email them to: Or, post them to our Facebook page:

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Nebraska.  Visit these websites to learn more: