Nebraska History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

This land we now call Nebraska was long the sacred home of the American Indian tribes; they raised their children and crops; hunted buffalo that roamed the Great Plains, and for the most part, lived in peace. In an aggressive and relentless search for gold and other treasures, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado claimed the central and southwestern regions of America for Spain in 1541; in the late 1600s, the French claimed all the land drained by the Mississippi for France; they named it “Louisiana Territory” after their king, Louis XIV. French people¬†continued to expand their claims, much to the dismay of the Spaniards; conflicts followed, but with local Indian support, the French defeated the Spanish military response. Over the next century, France and Spain, as well as the British, fought against this land.

In 1800, when Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies were moving across Europe, pushing Spain to the corner, the Louisiana Territory (New Orleans) and a huge chunk of land in the now central United States (including Nebraska) was ceded to France by Spain through an agreement.

In 1803, with military pressures mounting, Napoleon approved the sale of the entire area to the United States in a deal called the Louisiana Purchase. and the United States, doubling in size almost overnight.

  • Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in Nebraska, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the state.
  • A2zcamerablog: Offers general information about Nebraska, covering history, population, economy and county list.
  • Campingship: State outline of Nebraska, including geography location, state capital, brief history and a list of largest counties by area.

The face of Nebraska changed forever when the Lewis and Clark expedition explored this land as it wound its way up the Missouri River on their epic journey across mid-America to the Pacific Northwest. As stories about them (land of opportunity) spread east, the Oregon Trail was the route the pioneers followed; building small farms and settlements along the way. Soon steamboats from St. Louis arrived in Omaha on a regular basis, and the area began to grow.

Nebraska became a US territory in 1854, and in 1867, it became the 37th US state. Nebraska’s seemingly endless acres of fertile land and wide open spaces, and the Farm Act of 1862, encouraged widespread settlement into the new state. The Indians of course rebelled (and fought back) as their lands were stolen, but they were eventually defeated in the late 1800s when the proud Sioux Nation surrendered.

Because of the railroads, Nebraska grew rapidly and quickly became a major shipping point for beef cattle. Growth was stunted in the 1870s as large swarms of grasshoppers damaged all farm crops so badly that many of the original settlers returned east; most were soon replaced by a new wave of settlers.

At the end of World War I, and after the severe drought and stock market crash of 1929, Nebraska farmers, like those in many other states, were close to economic ruin. It all turned around during World War II as demand for cattle, grain and wheat brought newfound prosperity to the state, and Nebraska has never looked back.

Located in the heart of America, Nebraska is famous for its endless fields of grain, oats and wheat, huge livestock operations, idyllic small towns and farms, and of course, the legendary football teams from the University of Nebraska – the Cornhuskers!

Timeline of Nebraska

1500s – 1600s

  • (1541) Explorers claimed Nebraska for Spain
  • (1682) French explorer Robert Cavelier claimed Nebraska for France


  • (1803) US acquired Nebraska from France in the Louisiana Purchase
  • (1804) Lewis and Clark traveled the Missouri River
  • (1819) US Army established Fort Atkinson, Nebraska’s first military post
  • (1823) First permanent white settlement built at Bellevue
  • (1833) The American government bought the Pawnee’s Indian lands, south of the Platte River
  • (1840s) Tens of thousands of settlers traveled across the state, following the Oregon Trail
  • (1854) Nebraska Territory organized
  • (1862) The Farm Act encouraged new settlers from the east to Nebraska
  • (1867) Nebraska became a state
  • (1868) Lincoln replaced Omaha as the Capitol
  • (1877) Famed Indian warrior Crazy Horse surrendered, along with 1,000 of his followers near Camp Robinson. He was later killed
  • (1898) Mississippi International Exposition opened in Omaha


  • (1939) Oil discovered in southeastern Nebraska
  • (1942) Kingsley Dam completed creating Lake McConaughey
  • (1948) US Strategic Air Commnad opened near Omaha
  • (1992) The state began to prevent large corporations from buying farmland
  • (1999) Central prairie fire burned 72,000 acres of field, killed cattle


  • (2000) Scottsbluff train derailment spilled 80,000 gallons of chemical benzene, evacuations ordered
  • (2002) Pipe bombs found in six residential mailboxes, domestic terrorism suspected; drought ravaged crops caused by grasshopper invasion, losses more than $1 billion
  • (2005) Legislature voted to allow convicted felons to vote after completion of proposal and two-year waiting time
  • (2006) Cuba bought $30 million in food from Nebraska
  • (2007) Gunman killed eight, injured five during Omaha mall shooting
  • (2009) Legislature voted to change the death penalty from electrocution to lethal injection
  • (2011) Flooding of Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant near the Missouri River raised fears that power plants could be vulnerable to weather extremes
  • (2011) Nebraska legislautre voted to reroute controversial Trans-Canada pipeline to avoid Ogallala and Dune aquifer
  • (2012) Four tornadoes struck around North Platte, injured four, damaged homes, farm buildings, derailed 31 railcars

Omaha Nebraska

Omaha is the largest city in Nebraska, a center state full of vacation or home improvement opportunities. Located on the western banks of the Missouri River and enjoying a full four seasons of weather, this friendly and diverse city has attractions for all interests and ages. A strong local nostalgic movement has resulted in many historic districts and buildings being designated Omaha Landmarks or placed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Nash Block and Fort District Omaha Historic. Named the Hub City to the West, Omaha has a wealth of museums, performance venues, hiking trails and parks, and a rich musical heritage.
The historically significant jazz scenes in North Omaha and the distinct and influential Sound of Omaha have influenced musicians throughout the United States.
In short, Omaha is middle America at its best, welcoming, laid-back and unobtrusive.

  • Famous Lead Actor Marlon Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Sneezing is illegal during a church service in Omaha. No ‘Be healthy’ allowed in church?
  • This thriving American city has the highest number of millionaires per capita in the country.

Below are some of the best things to do in Omaha on a Nebraska Vacation.

Henry Doorly Zu
Henry Doorly Zu is home to the Kingdoms of the Night, the world’s largest night show and inland swamp; The Lied Jungle is the largest inland rainforest in the world; and the Desert Dome, the largest inland desert in the world.
Covering 130 acres and caring for more than 17,000 animals, the Omaha Zoo features amazing red macaws, Blue Monkeys, King penguins, and big life African cats Cheetahs and Asiatic
The Scott Aquarium features aquatic exhibits from the polar regions to tropical coral reefs. Enjoy a 900,000 gallon shark tunnel, underwater penguin viewing and exotics like Moray eels, Nautilus and leafy Sea Dragons that mimic their environment in a strange way.

Old Market
Old Market is the largest historic district in downtown Omaha, filled with top-notch shopping, restaurants, nightlife and art galleries. Still retaining its past beauty, the area invites a relaxing walk through the paved brick streets of its turn of the century.
Carriages parade along the paved sidewalks with street performers, artists and unique vendors. The Old Market is home to the city’s opera, orchestra, arcade promenade and many excellent theatres.
Home to the Omaha Farm Market in summer, the bustling Old Market is a Nebraska classic with new events to present with every visit.

Omaha Children’s Museum
The Omaha Children’s Museum is a place of learning and exploration for children of all ages, designed to engage the imagination and create excitement through learning.
With permanent exhibitions including the Creative Arts Center, the Artist’s Studio in Residence, an inventor’s workshop and the Science Attraction, the museums help kids learn through fun science presentations.
Before leaving this Nebraska children’s museum, make sure to check out the kinetic tower and Sandy’s Splish-Splash Garden.

Nebraska History