15 Interesting Facts About Nebraska

Did you know that Nebraska invented the world’s first ski lift in the 1930s?

Nebraska, also known as “The Beef State” and officially nicknamed “The Cornhusker State”, became the 37th state to join the United States of America on March 1, 1867. As of 2019, it has a population of 1,934,408 people, ranking as the 37th most populous state. Nebraska is bordered by South Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Colorado. It is the 16th largest state, covering 77,358 square miles (200,356 square kilometers) of land and water. The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln, located in the far east of the state.

Now, let’s delve into some more fascinating facts about Nebraska!

Most of Nebraska was once submerged under an inland sea.

During the Late Cretaceous period, which spanned from around 66 to 99 million years ago, about 75% of present-day Nebraska was part of the Western Interior Seaway, an inland sea that covered over a third of the United States. This sea was home to a variety of marine reptiles that predate the dinosaurs, including plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, as well as giant predatory fish like the Xiphactinus. Fossils of these creatures can be found in limestone cliffs throughout Nebraska.

Nebraska was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before European arrival.

The Paleo-Indians were the first people to populate the Americas, arriving in the region now known as Nebraska towards the end of the Ice Age. They traveled from modern-day Russia to North America via the Bering Strait around 14,000 years ago. Evidence of their presence has been found in the form of stone arrowheads, kill sites, and campsites. By the time Europeans arrived, several established and advanced groups of Native Americans were living in Nebraska, such as the Pawnee, Otoe, Missouria, Omaha, Lakota, and Ponca.

The French were the first Europeans to claim Nebraska.

Despite Native American presence in the region, European explorers and colonizers laid claim to Nebraska. French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed all land that drained into the Mississippi River (and its tributaries) for France in 1682, although he had never been to most of the region. In 1714, another French explorer named Etienne de Bourgmont became the first white man to set foot in Nebraska.

The name “Nebraska” comes from the Otoe name for the Platte River.

The first mention of Nebraska can be found in the writings of Etienne de Bourgmont, who referred to it as “Nebraskiér”. The name comes from the Otoe name for the Platte River, which runs through the state.

The Otoe name for the Platte River, which means wide and flat, was used by a man who had spent some time there. The name became translated as “the flat river” and later became the name of the river. Nebraska was a part of French Louisiana until 1762 and then changed hands to New Spain. New Spain did little else other than establish a few trading posts before handing it back to the French in 1800. In 1803, all of French Louisiana, including Nebraska, was sold to the US for $15 million. The capital of Nebraska was established as Omaha when Nebraska Territory was founded in 1854. Settlement in the region was incredibly difficult until the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad in the late 1800s. Nebraska is home to the US’ largest indoor rainforest, which lies in Omaha within the Henry Doorly Zoo. The world’s first ski lift was invented in Nebraska in the 1930s by Jim Curran, an engineer working for the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

After watching a machine designed to move bananas to and from cargo ships, he was inspired to create a ski lift in a similar manner. Despite initial rejection of his design as crazy and dangerous, he persisted and eventually gained approval. The first two chairlifts in the world began operating at the Sun Valley ski resort in Idaho on December 21, 1936.

Nebraska’s borders were much larger in the past.

When Nebraska Territory was established in 1854, its borders were different from today. The western border was the Continental Divide, the southern border was with Kansas Territory along the 40th parallel north of the equator, the eastern border was along the Missouri and White Earth rivers, and the northern border was along the 49th parallel north of the equator. Previously Nebraskan land was used to create Colorado Territory and Dakota Territory, and Nebraska was admitted as a state in 1867.

Frozen TV dinners were invented in Nebraska.

In 1952, the sons of a Swedish immigrant, Gilbert and Clarke Swanson, changed the frozen food industry forever. Their father, Carl A. Swanson, left his sons with the largest food production company in the region when he passed away in 1949. Gilbert and Clarke Swanson began developing the idea of a frozen meal, complete with side dishes. In 1952, they released their first frozen TV dinner, which included turkey, peas, and cornbread in an aluminum container. The product’s name later changed, but any frozen meal is still commonly referred to as a TV dinner.

A worldwide tree-planting movement began in Nebraska.

Julius Sterling Morton proposed the idea of Arbor Day in 1872. He envisioned a holiday where people of all backgrounds would pause their usual work and plant trees. Morton’s idea included prizes for individuals and counties that planted the most trees. On April 10th, 1872, more than a million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day. Arbor Day was shifted to Morton’s birthday on April 2nd and became a state holiday in 1885. Now celebrated in many countries, the date of Arbor Day varies depending on the local climate.

Nebraska is in the middle of Tornado Alley.

Tornado Alley is a central region of the US affected by extreme weather due to a unique mix of climate conditions. Nebraska is located in the heart of Tornado Alley and experiences severe weather, such as tornadoes, every spring, summer, and sometimes fall.

Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska.

Although America’s favorite powdered drink mix was not always a powder, it was invented in Nebraska.

Edwin E. Perkins created a syrup called “Fruit Smack” before inventing the powdered form of Kool-aid in 1927. He changed the formula to a powder for easier transportation. Perkins was known for being an inventor since childhood and would experiment with ingredients found in his mother’s kitchen.

In Lehigh, Nebraska, a lawmaker decided to ban the sale of doughnut holes in the 1800s. He believed it was outrageous for bakers to sell the middle parts of donuts. The law was eventually repealed, but it’s still difficult to find doughnut holes for sale in Lehigh.

Nebraska is not just known for its agriculture and cornfields. The state has produced iconic products such as Kool-aid and TV dinners. It also has a rich pioneer history that can be explored in various museums throughout the state.


1. What is the capital city of Nebraska?

The capital city of Nebraska is Lincoln. It is the second-largest city in the state and home to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the state’s flagship public university.

2. What is Nebraska’s state nickname?

Nebraska’s state nickname is the Cornhusker State. This nickname comes from the state’s agricultural roots and its reputation as a major producer of corn.

3. What is the highest point in Nebraska?

The highest point in Nebraska is Panorama Point. It is located in Kimball County in the western part of the state and stands at an elevation of 5,424 feet (1,653 meters) above sea level.

4. What is Nebraska’s state bird?

Nebraska’s state bird is the Western Meadowlark. It is a medium-sized bird with a distinctive yellow breast and flute-like song. The Western Meadowlark is commonly found in grasslands and prairies throughout the state.

5. What is the population of Nebraska?

As of 2021, the population of Nebraska is approximately 1.9 million people. The largest city in the state is Omaha, with a population of over 460,000, followed by Lincoln with a population of over 280,000.

6. What is the significance of Chimney Rock?

Chimney Rock is a famous natural landmark located in western Nebraska. It was an important landmark for pioneers traveling on the Oregon Trail in the 19th century, serving as a guidepost for their journey westward. Today, Chimney Rock is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of Nebraska’s pioneer history.

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