State of Nebraska - NE

Nebraska is a Great Plains state of the United States. Nebraska gets its name from a Native American (Oto) word meaning "flat water", after the Platte River that flows through the state. Once considered part of the Great American Desert, it is now a leading farming state. Nebraskans have practiced scientific farming to turn the Nebraska prairie into a land of ranches and farms. Much of the history of the state is the story of the impact of the Nebraska farmer. Nebraskans are sometimes colloquially referred to as "Cornhuskers" (which is derived from the state nickname).

Further information: List of counties in Nebraska and List of Nebraska rivers
Map of NebraskaNebraska is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa and Missouri to the east, across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. Nebraska has 93 counties; it also occupies the central portion of the Frontier Strip.

Nebraska is composed of two major land regions: the Dissected Till Plains and the Great Plains. The easternmost portion of the state was scoured by Ice Age glaciers; the Dissected Till Plains were left behind after the glaciers retreated. The Dissected Till Plains is a region of gently rolling hills; Omaha and Lincoln are located within this region.

The Great Plains occupy the majority of western Nebraska. The Great Plains itself is comprised of several smaller, diverse land regions, including the Sandhills, the Pine Ridge, the Rainwater Basin, the High Plains and the Wildcat Hills. Panorama Point, at 5,424 feet (1,653 m), is the highest point in Nebraska; despite its name and elevation, it is merely a low rise near the Colorado and Wyoming borders.

A past Nebraska tourism slogan was "Where the West Begins"; locations given for the beginning of the "West" include the Missouri River, the intersection of 13th and O Streets in Lincoln (where it is marked by a red brick star), the 100th meridian, and Chimney Rock.

Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument near Harrison
California National Historic Trail
Chimney Rock National Historic Site near Bayard
Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
Missouri National Recreational River near Ponca
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Niobrara National Scenic River near Valentine
Oregon National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Scotts Bluff National Monument at Gering

Two major climates are represented in Nebraska: the eastern two-thirds of the state has a hot summer continental climate, and the western third of the state has a semiarid steppe climate. The entire state experiences wide seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation. Average temperatures are fairly uniform across Nebraska, while average annual precipitation decreases from about 31.5 inches (800 mm) in the southeast corner of the state to about 13.8 inches (350 mm) in the Panhandle. Snowfall across the state is fairly even, with most of Nebraska receiving between 25 and 35 inches (650 to 900 mm) of snow annually. [1]

Nebraska is located in Tornado Alley; thunderstorms are common in the spring and summer months. The chinook winds from the Rocky Mountains provide a temporary moderating effect on temperatures in western Nebraska during the winter months. [2], [3]

The National Wildlife Federation has found that global warming could have a harmful effect on the Nebraska's ecology and economy,[1] promoting the kinds of drought that led to the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s and increasing the population and active season of disease-carrying mosquitos.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law on May 28, 1854; it established the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas. The territorial capital of Nebraska was Omaha.

In the 1860s, the first great wave of homesteaders poured into Nebraska to claim free land granted by the federal government. Many of the first farm settlers built their homes out of sod because they found so few trees on the grassy land.

Nebraska became the 37th state in 1867, shortly after the American Civil War. At that time, the capital was moved from Omaha to Lancaster, later renamed Lincoln after the recently assassinated President of the United States Abraham Lincoln.

Arbor Day began in Nebraska, and the National Arbor Day Foundation is still headquartered in Nebraska City.

Prohibition in the U.S. was adopted in 1918, with Nebraska as the thirty-sixth state necessary to make the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution [4].

Nebraska Population Density MapHistorical populations
Census Pop. %±


1860 28,841
1870 122,993 326%
1880 452,402 268%
1890 1,062,656 135%
1900 1,066,300 0%
1910 1,192,214 12%
1920 1,296,372 9%
1930 1,377,963 6%
1940 1,315,834 -5%
1950 1,325,510 1%
1960 1,411,330 6%
1970 1,483,493 5%
1980 1,569,825 6%
1990 1,578,385 1%
2000 1,711,263 8%
2005 est 1,758,787
As of 2005, Nebraska has an estimated population of 1,758,787, which is an increase of 11,083, or 0.6%, from the prior year and an increase of 47,522, or 2.8%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 52,104 people (that is 132,394 births minus 80,290 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 4,007 people out of the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 22,199 people, and migration within the country produced a net loss of 26,206 people.

As of 2004, the population of Nebraska included about 84,000 foreign-born residents (4.8% of the population).

Demographics of Nebraska (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 93.53% 4.48% 1.32% 1.58% 0.11%
2000 (hispanic only) 5.24% 0.13% 0.17% 0.04% 0.02%
2005 (total population) 93.06% 4.82% 1.31% 1.85% 0.11%
2005 (hispanic only) 6.74% 0.20% 0.18% 0.05% 0.03%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 2.25% 10.52% 1.72% 20.76% 5.53%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 0.48% 9.02% 0.56% 20.73% 4.75%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 32.17% 61.17% 9.63% 22.13% 8.10%

The five largest ancestry groups in Nebraska are German (38.6%), Irish (12.4%), English (9.6%), Swedish (4.9%), and Czech (4.9%).

Nebraska has the largest Czech-American population (as a percentage of the total population) in the nation. German-Americans are the largest ancestry group in most of the state, particularly in the eastern counties. Thurston County (comprised entirely of the Omaha and Winnebago reservations) has a Native American majority, and Butler County is one of only two counties in the nation with a Czech-American plurality.

Rural flight
Nebraska, in common with five other Midwest states (Kansas, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, and Iowa), eighty-nine percent of the cities in those states have fewer than 3,000 people; hundreds have fewer than 1,000.

53 of Nebraska's 93 counties reported declining populations between 1990 and 2000, ranging from a 0.06% loss (Frontier County) to a 17.04% loss (Hitchcock County). While many areas of the state continue to suffer, others have experienced substantial growth. In 2000, the city of Omaha had a population of 390,007 while it was estimated in 2004 to contain 409,416 people, a change of +5% over four years. The city of Lincoln had a population of 225,581 during 2000 and had a 2004 estimated population of 236,146, a +4.7% change. Indeed, the population of the state of Nebraska has increased by an estimated 35,951 people from 2000 to 2004.

The religious affiliations of the people of Nebraska are:

Christian – 90%
Protestant – 61%
Lutheran – 16%
Methodist – 11%
Baptist – 9%
Presbyterian – 4%
Other Protestant – 21%
Roman Catholic – 28%
Other Christian – 1%
Other religions – 1%
Non-religious – 9%

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates of Nebraska's gross state product in 2004 was $68 billion. Per capita personal income in 2004 was $31,339, 25th in the nation.

Once considered part of the Great American Desert, it is now a leading farming state. Nebraskans have practiced scientific farming to turn the Nebraska prairie into a land of ranches and farms. Much of the history of the state is the story of the impact of the Nebraska farmer.

Nebraska has a large agriculture sector, and is a national leader in the production of beef, pork, corn (maize), and soybeans. Other important economic sectors include freight transport (by rail and truck), manufacturing, telecommunications, information technology, and insurance.

Nebraska has 4 personal income tax brackets, ranging from 2.56% to 6.84%. Nebraska has a state sales tax of 5.5%. In addition to the state tax, some Nebraska cities assess a city sales and use tax, up to a maximum of 1.5%. All real property located within the state of Nebraska is taxable unless specifically exempted by statute. Since 1992, only depreciable personal property is subject to tax and all other personal property is exempt from tax. Inheritance tax is collected at the county level.


Further information: List of Nebraska railroads
Nebraska has a rich railroad history. The Union Pacific Railroad, headquartered in Omaha, was incorporated on July 1, 1862, in the wake of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. The route of the original transcontinental railroad runs through the state.

Other major railroads with operations in the state are: Amtrak; BNSF Railway; Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad; and Iowa Interstate Railroad.

Roads and highways
The Interstate Highways in Nebraska are:

76, 80, 129, 180, 480, 680
The U.S. Routes in Nebraska are:

6, 20, 26, 30, 34, 73, 75, 77, 81, 83, 136, 138, 159, 183, 275, 281, 283, 385

Law and government
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Nebraska ConstitutionNebraska's government operates under the framework of the Nebraska Constitution, adopted in 1875 and is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

Further information: Governor of Nebraska
The head of the executive branch is the Governor Dave Heineman. Other elected officials in the executive branch are the Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy (elected on the same ticket as the Governor), Attorney General Jon Bruning, Secretary of State John A. Gale, State Treasurer Ron Ross, and State Auditor Kate Witek. All elected officials in the executive branch serve four-year terms.

Further information: Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska State Capitol
Nebraska is the only state in the United States with a unicameral legislature; that is, a legislature with only one house. Although this house is officially known simply as the "Legislature", and more commonly called the "Unicameral", its members still call themselves "senators". Nebraska's Legislature is also the only state legislature in the United States that is nonpartisan. The senators are elected with no party affiliation next to their names on the ballot, and the speaker and committee chairs are chosen at large, so that members of any party can be (and often are) chosen for these positions. The Nebraska Legislature can also override a governor's veto with a three-fifths majority, in contrast to the two-thirds majority required in some other states.

The Nebraska Legislature meets in the third Nebraska State Capitol building, built between 1922 and 1932.

Nebraska state insignia
Common to nearly all states
Motto Equality Before the Law
Slogan Nebraska, possibilities...endless
Bird Western meadowlark
Animal White-tailed deer
Fish Channel catfish
Insect Honeybee
Flower Goldenrod
Tree Cottonwood
Song "Beautiful Nebraska"
Released April 7, 2006
Less common
Grass Little bluestem
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Fossil Mammoth
Gemstone Blue agate
Soil Holdrege series
For years, United States Senator George Norris and other Nebraskans encouraged the idea of a unicameral legislature, and demanded the issue be decided in a referendum. Norris argued:

The constitutions of our various states are built upon the idea that there is but one class. If this be true, there is no sense or reason in having the same thing done twice, especially if it is to be done by two bodies of men elected in the same way and having the same jurisdiction.

Unicameral supporters also argued that a bicameral legislature had a significant undemocratic feature in the committees that reconciled Assembly and Senate legislation. Votes in these committees were secretive, and would sometimes add provisions to bills that neither house had approved. Nebraska's unicameral legislature today has rules that bills can contain only one subject, and must be given at least five days of consideration.

Finally, in 1934, due in part to the budgetary pressure of the Great Depression, Nebraska's unicameral legislature was put in place by a state initiative. In effect, the Assembly (the house) was abolished; as noted, today's Nebraska state legislators are commonly referred to as "Senators."

Further information: Nebraska Supreme Court
The judicial system in Nebraska is unified, with the Nebraska Supreme Court having administrative authority over all Nebraska courts. Nebraska uses the Missouri Plan for the selection of judges at all levels. The lowest courts in Nebraska are the county courts, which are grouped into 12 districts (containing one or more counties); above those are 12 district courts. The Court of Appeals hears appeals from the district courts, juvenile courts, and workers' compensation courts. The Nebraska Supreme Court is the final court of appeal.

Nebraska allows for capital punishment; the sole method of execution is the electric chair, making Nebraska the only place in the world to use only this mode of execution. However, executions in Nebraska have been infrequent; none have been carried out in the 21st century, and the state has strongly flirted with the idea of a moratorium on, or complete abolition of, capital punishment.

Federal government representation
Further information: U.S. Congressional Delegations from Nebraska
Nebraska's two U.S. senators are Chuck Hagel (Republican) and Ben Nelson (Democrat). Nebraska has three representatives in the House are: Jeff Fortenberry (R, 1st District); Lee Terry (R, 2nd District); and Tom Osborne (R, 3rd District).

Nebraska is one of two states (the other being Maine) that allow for a split in the electoral vote. Since 1991, two of Nebraska's five electoral votes are awarded based on the winner of the statewide election while the other three go to the highest vote-getter in each of the state's three congressional districts. Although possible, a split in the electoral vote has not occurred in any election.

Nebraska politics
Further information: United States presidential election, 2004, in Nebraska, Nebraska gubernatorial election, 2006 and Nebraska United States Senate election, 2006
For most of its history, Nebraska has been a solidly Republican state. Republicans have carried the state in all but one presidential election since 1940—the 1964 landslide election of Lyndon Johnson. In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush won the state's five electoral votes by a 33% margin of (the fourth-most Republican vote among states) with 65.9% of the overall vote; only Thurston County, which includes two American Indian reservations, voted for John Kerry.

Despite the current Republican domination of Nebraska politics, the state has a long tradition of electing centrist members of both parties to state and federal office; examples include George Norris (who served his last few years in the Senate as an independent), J. James Exon, and Bob Kerrey. This tradition is illustrated by Nebraska's current U. S. senators: Chuck Hagel is considered a maverick within his party, while Ben Nelson is the most conservative member of his party in the Senate.

Important cities and towns
All population figures are 2004 Census Bureau estimates.

Largest cities
100,000+ population 10,000+ population
Omaha - 409,416
Lincoln - 236,146
Bellevue - 47,347
Grand Island - 44,287
Kearney - 28,640
Fremont - 25,272
Norfork - 24,072
North Platte - 23,944
Hastings - 23,404
Columbus - 20,881
Papillion - 19,497
Scottsbluff - 14,767
La Vista - 14,685
Beatrice - 12,963
South Sioux City - 12,142
Lexington - 10,056

Urban areas
Metropolitan areas Micropolitan areas
Omaha-Council Bluffs - 683,705 (Nebraska portion), 813,170 (total for Nebraska and Iowa)
Lincoln - 275,820
Sioux City, Iowa - 26,722 (Nebraska portion)
Grand Island - 69,685
Kearney - 50,286
Norfork - 49,964
Hastings - 37,691
Scottsbluff - 37,393
North Platte - 36,213
Fremont - 36,066
Columbus - 31,245
Lexington - 26,566
Beatrice - 23,436

Other areas

Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney comprise the “Tri-Cities” area.
The northeast corner of Nebraska is part of the Siouxland region.


Colleges and universities
University of Nebraska system

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
University of Nebraska at Kearney
University of Nebraska at Omaha
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
Nebraska State College System

Chadron State College
Peru State College
Wayne State College
Private colleges/universities

Bellevue University
Clarkson College
College of Saint Mary
Concordia University
Creighton University
Dana College
Doane College
Grace University
Hastings College
Midland Lutheran College
Nebraska Christian College
Nebraska Methodist College
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Summit Christian College
Union College
York College
Nebraska Community College Association

Central Community College
Little Priest Tribal College
Metropolitan Community College
Mid-Plains Community College
Nebraska Indian Community College
Northeast Community College
Southeast Community College
Western Nebraska Community College

Sports teams
Professional sports
Lincoln Capitols – National Indoor Football League
Lincoln Saltdogs – American Association (independent minor league baseball)
Lincoln Thunder – American Basketball Association (suspended operations; plans to return for 2006-2007 season).
Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights – American Hockey League (affiliate of the Calgary Flames)
Omaha Beef – United Indoor Football
Omaha Royals – Pacific Coast League (AAA minor league baseball; affiliate of the Kansas City Royals)
NCAA Division I college sports
Creighton Bluejays
Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks – ice hockey (in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association) only
Junior-level sports
Lincoln Stars – United States Hockey League
Omaha Lancers – United States Hockey League (home games played in Council Bluffs, Iowa)
Tri-City Storm – United States Hockey League

Nebraska claims to have more miles of river than any other state.

Nebraskans are called Cornhuskers.

Kool-Aid was created in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in the city of Hastings; it is the official soft drink of Nebraska. [5]

The world's largest train yard, Union Pacific's Bailey Yard, is located in North Platte.

The Vise-Grip was invented and is still manufactured in De Witt.

Arbor Day was founded by J. Sterling Morton. The National Arbor Day Foundation has its headquarters near his home in Nebraska City.

The swing in the Hebron, Nebraska city park at 5th and Jefferson streets is claimed to be the world's largest porch swing, long enough to fit 18 adults or 24 children.

Memorial Stadium on the University of Nebraska campus in Lincoln holds over 80,000 people. During football games, it holds more people than the third-most populous city in the state.


Olson James C. and Ronald C. Naugle History of Nebraska 2nd ed (1997)
Andreas, Alfred T. History of the State of Nebraska (1882 highly detailed history
Creigh, Dorothy Weyers. Nebraska: A Bicentennial History (1977)
Faulkner, Virginia, ed. Roundup: A Nebraska Reader (1957)
Hickey, Donald R. Nebraska Moments: Glimpses of Nebraska's Past (1992).
Miewald, Robert D. Nebraska Government & Politics (1984)
Luebke Frederick C. Nebraska: An Illustrated History (1995)
Morton, J. Sterling, ed. Illustrated History of Nebraska: A History of Nebraska from the Earliest Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi Region. 3 vols. (1905-13)
Wishart, David J. ed. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (2004), 900 pages of scholarly articles

Scholarly special studies
Barnhart, John D. "Rainfall and the Populist Party in Nebraska." American Political Science Review 19 (1925): 527-40. in JSTOR
Beezley, William H. "Homesteading in Nebraska, 1862-1872," Nebraska History 53 (spring 1972): 59-75.
Bentley, Arthur F. "The Condition of the Western Farmer as Illustrated by the Economic History of a Nebraska Township." Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science 11 (1893): 285-370.
Cherny, Robert W. Populism, Progressivism, and the Transformation of Nebraska Politics, 1885-1915 (1981)
Bogue Allen G. Money at Interest: The Farm Mortgage on the Middle Border (1955)
Brunner, Edmund de S. Immigrant Farmers and Their Children (1929)
Chudacoff, Howard P. Mobile Americans: Residential and Social Mobility in Omaha, 1880-1920 (1972)
Chudacoff, Howard P. "A New Look at Ethnic Neighborhoods: Residential Dispersion and the Concept of Visibility in a Medium-sized City." Journal of American History 60 (1973): 76-93. about Omaha; in JSTOR
Coletta, Paolo E. William Jennings Bryan. 3 vols. 1964-69.
Dick, Everett. The Sod-House Frontier: 1854-1890 (1937)
Farragher, John Mack. Women and Men on the Overland Trail (1979)
Fuller, Wayne E. The Old Country School: The Story of Rural Education in the Midwest (1982)
Grant, Michael Johnston. "Down and Out on the Family Farm" (2002)
Harper, Ivy. Walzing Matilda: Life and Times of Nebraska Senator Robert Kerrey (1992).
Holter, Don W. Flames on the Plains: A History of United Methodism in Nebraska (1983).
Jeffrey, Julie Roy. Frontier Women: The Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1880 (1979)
Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Birth of a Railroad, 1862-1893 (1986)
Klein, Maury. Union Pacific: The Rebirth, 1894-1969 (1989).
Larsen, Lawrence H. The Gate City: A History of Omaha (1982)
Lowitt, Richard. George W. Norris 3 vols. 1971.
Luebke, Frederick C. Immigrants and Politics: The Germans of Nebraska, 1880-1900 (1969)
Luebke, Frederick C. "The German-American Alliance in Nebraska, 1910-1917." Nebraska History 49 (1969): 165-85.
Olson, James C. J. Sterling Morton (1942)
Overton, Richard C. Burlington West: A Colonization History of the Burlington Railroad (1941)
Parsons Stanley B. "Who Were the Nebraska Populists?" Nebraska History 44 (1963): 83-99.
Pierce, Neal. The Great Plains States (1973)
Pederson, James F., and Kenneth D. Wald. Shall the People Rule? A History of the Democratic Party in Nebraska Politics (1972)
Riley, Glenda. The Female Frontier. A Comparative View of Women on the Prairie and the Plains (1978)
Wenger, Robert W. "The Anti-Saloon League in Nebraska Politics, 1898-1910." Nebraska History 52 (1971): 267-92.

Unknown, (2006)

Further reading
Chokecherry Places, Essays from the High Plains, Merrill Gilfillan, Johnson Press, Boulder, Colorado, trade paperback, ISBN 1-55566-227-7.


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