75 Fun & Interesting Facts About Nebraska, USA

Nebraska is known primarily for farming and agriculture, plus some dramatic natural attractions such as sand dunes and towering rock formations.

Find out what else the Cornhusker State is famous for with this super detailed list of general, random/interesting, and historical facts about Nebraska!

General Nebraska Facts

  • Nebraska is one of the dozen states in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is on the western side of the region.
  • Nebraska is the only state in the US that’s triply landlocked. This means it is at least 3 states away from the ocean in every possible direction.
  • The Missouri River, the longest river in the US, forms the border between Nebraska and Iowa/Missouri.
  • The total area of Nebraska is 77,358 mi² (200,356 km²), making it the 16th largest state. It is between Kansas and South Dakota in terms of size.
  • Nebraska is almost the same size as Kyrgyzstan.  
  • Nebraska has a population of 1.96 million. This makes it the 14th least populous state in the US, between Idaho and New Mexico in terms of population.
Aerial view of downtown Omaha and the Missouri River in Nebraska
Omaha, on the Missouri River, is the largest city in Nebraska
  • The capital city of Nebraska is Lincoln, which is also the county seat of Lancaster County. Lincoln has a population of 298,000 which makes it Nebraska’s second most populous city, and the 72nd in the country.
  • The largest city in Nebraska is Omaha. With a population of 486,000, it is the 39th largest in the US. Lincoln and Omaha are located in the state’s east, near the border with Idaho.
  • Nebraska has badlands and sandhills in the west, Great Plains in the center, and low hills in the east. 92% of the state is farmland or ranchland, more than any state except Texas, Montana, or Kansas.
Aerial view of sandhills in Nebraska
The Nebraska Sandhills
  • The Pawnee, Ponca, Sauk, Cheyenne, Omaha, Dakota Sioux, and Lakota indigenous tribes traditionally lived in the area. Today, only 0.8% of the state’s population is indigenous.
  • NE is the abbreviation for Nebraska.
  • The state’s name comes from the Otoe words “Ni Brasge“, meaning “flat water”. The name was inspired by the Platte River, which runs through Nebraska.
  • The state motto of Nebraska is “Equality Before the Law”.
  • Nebraska state slogans have included “Where the West Begins” and “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”
The flag of Nebraska
The Nebraska state flag
  • The Nebraska flag shows the state seal on a blue background. Nebraska’s seal features the Missouri River, wheat and a cabin (representing the state’s agriculture and settlers), and a blacksmith with his anvil.
  • People that live in Nebraska are called Nebraskans. They are nicknamed “Cornhuskers” because the state has more acres of corn crops than any other. The state is a nicknamed the “Cornhusker State.”

Random Interesting Facts About Nebraska

  • Nebraska’s official state drink is milk (the same as 20 other states), while Kool-Aid is the official state soft drink.
  • Nebraska’s state fossil is the mammoth. Mammoths lived in the state from 2 million to 10,000 years ago.
A mammoth fossil on display at Nebraska State University
Archie the Mammoth, Nebraska State University
The tall tower of the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, with sun setting in background
The Nebraska State Capitol in Nebraska
  • There are no national parks in Nebraska, but the state is home to 9 state parks, protecting 0.3% of the state’s land.
  • Part of the historic Oregon Trail runs through Nebraska. Visitors can hike about half a mile on the actual trail.
  • There are also around half a dozen national monuments in Nebraska. These include the impressive Chimney Rock, which is the most frequently mentioned landmark in journal entries by pioneers traveling to Oregon on the Oregon Trail, and Scotts Bluff, a popular spot to go hiking in Nebraska.
  • There are numerous other national historic trails in Nebraska, including Lewis and Clark, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails.
A towering rocky peak called Chimney Rock in Nebraska
Chimney Rock
  • The Nebraska Sandhills is another national monument. They stretch for an impressive 19,300 mi2 (49,987 km2), around twice the size of Vermont.
  • The Cowboy Trail, when completed, will be the longest “rail to trail” line in the United States, and one of the longest in the world, at 321 mi (517 km). It follows the old Cowboy Railway Line.
  • The Lied Jungle at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is the world’s largest indoor forest. It covers eight stories and 1.5 acres.
  • Around 90% of towns in Nebraska have a population of 3000 or less.
Aerial view of a wooden bridge crossing a river valley, part of the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska
Bridge on the Cowboy Trail
  • The author Willa Cather lived in the small Nebraska town of Red Cloud, which inspired towns in several of her novels, including Black Hawk in My Ántonia.
  • Friend, Nebraska was once home to the supposed smallest police station in the world. It was the size of a shed.
  • Panorama Point is the highest point in the state, at 5,424 feet. Nebraska’s lowest point is 840 feet, at the Missouri River.
A small farm town in Nebraska
A typical small town in Nebraska
  • The weather in Nebraska is a typical Midwestern climate with four seasons, including very hot summers and very cold winters.
  • The lowest temperature Nebraska ever recorded was on December 22, 1989 in Oshkosh- it was -47°F (-44°C). The all-time highest temperature was recorded on July 15, 1934 in Geneva- with a temperature of 118°F (48°C).
  • Nebraska is located in Tornado Alley, a part of the US that it commonly subject to tornadoes.
  • Nebraska’s Legislature is the only one in the US that is unicameral, which means there is only one house, and members are elected without party affiliation.
  • Nebraska has two times zones. Most of the state is on Central Time, but the Panhandle area follows Mountain Time.
  • Nebraska is one of the 10 whitest states in the US (i.e. highest percentage of people of European descent), but it’s only in the #10 spot (fun fact: the #1 spot goes to Maine).
Packages of Kool-Aid
Kool-Aid is one of Nebraska’s gifts to the world.
  • Famous people from Nebraska include activist Malcom X, actor Marlon Brando, former president Gerald Ford, philanthropist and businessman Warren Buffet, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, actress Hilary Swank, politician Dick Cheney, and astronaut Clayton Anderson.
  • The first company to sell frozen TV dinners on a nationwide scale was Omaha-based Swanson.
  • In the 1920s, Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid in Hastings, Nebraska. Edwin’s goal was to create a drink concentrate in powder form that’s juice-flavored in order to reduce shipping costs.
  • The Reuben sandwich is another Nebreaska invention. Chef Bernard Schimmel invented this delicious sandwich for his customer, Reuben Kulakofsky at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha. The Rueben sandwich is a combination of rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing.
  • The delicious chocolate “meltaways” have been produced by the Baker family for over three generations. Baker’s Candies originate in Greenwood, Nebraska.
A reuben sandwich sliced in half
The Reuben Sandwich, a Nebraska invention
  • Many other things have been invented in Nebraska, including constant-velocity joints, vice grips, and center irrigation systems, which revolutionized the world of farming.
  • Omaha steaks, Speedway Motors, Cabela’s, and TD Ameritrade are some famous companies that started in Nebraska.
  • More popcorn is made in Nebraska than any other state.
A corn field in Nebraska
Nebraska is famous for its corn
  • Gallup’s Well-Being Index once ranked Lincoln, Nebraska as the best city in the US in terms of well-being.
  • Gallup, the company that makes such lists, is based on Washington DC but also has a major office in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • The first Arbor Day in the US was in Nebraska in 1872, when approximately 1 million trees were planted. The idea spread, and by 1920, an additional 45 states had adopted the holiday.
  • In Nebraska, it’s technically illegal to burp or sneeze in church.
  • Another old law states that it’s forbidden for barbers to eat onions between 7 AM and 7 PM, so that they won’t have bad breath.

Historical Facts About Nebraska

  • In the final years of the dinosaurs, most of Nebraska was covered with an inland sea. The sea was home to mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs. Their fossils are sometimes found in Nebraska today.
  • In the last ice age, part of the state was covered with huge glaciers.
A walking trail with hills in the background in Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Nebraska Panhandle
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in the Nebraska Panhandle area
  • Evidence of human inhabitation goes back at least 13,500 years in Nebraska.
  • Maize, first developed in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and Central America), made its way to the Great Plains by 700 CE.
  • Francisco de Coronado was the probably first European to arrive in Nebraska in 1541, claiming the area for Spain.
  • Robert Cavelier, a French explorer, claimed the land for France in 1682.
  • Nebraska would later be fought over by the French, Spanish and British.
  • In 1714, Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont reached the Platte River and named it Nebraskier River, the first use of this name.
Aerial view of Platte River
The Platte River
  • In 1762, after France lost the Seven Years’ War to England, it ceded all the land west of the Mississippi to Spain, including Nebraska. It became part of New Spain, which was based in Mexico.
  • By 1800, Spain found it costly to manage the region, so they returned it to France.
  • In 1822, the first town in Nebraska was established, Bellevue.
  • From the 1840s to 1860s, pioneer caravans crossed Nebraska on the Oregon Trail and other historical trails.
An old caravan with white covering, with Scotts Bluff in the background
Settler’s carriage at Scotts Bluff National Monument
  • On May 30, 1854 the Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The newly created Nebraska Territory was larger than Nebraska State is today.  
  • In 1865, Omaha was the starting point of the first railroad line to the Pacific Coast. The line was completed in 1869.
  • In 1867, Colorado was separated from Nebraska, and Nebraska became the 37th state to join the Union.
  • In the late 1800s after the Civil War, the population of Nebraska boomed, with settlers arriving from the eastern US and Europe and establishing farms.
  • In the 1930s, the Great Depression resulted in small farms being abandoned, mills and factories closing down, and families moving away to cities.
An old tower and other ruins of a factory in Nebraska
Ruins of an old potash plant in Antioch, Nebraska
  • In 1939, petroleum was discovered in the southeastern part of Nebraska.
  • During WWII, it wasn’t only Pearl Harbor that was hit. A Japanese balloon bomb exploded in the sky over Dundee, Omaha on April 18, 1945. The bomb didn’t do much damage, so the hit was kept hush-hush until after the end of the war.
  • In 1964, Interstate Highway 80 was completed from San Francisco, California across the country to Teaneck New Jersey, crossing Nebraska along the way. It followed the old Lincoln Highway, the first road across the USA.
  • In the 1980s, many farms in Nebraska closed as a part of a nation-wide farm crisis.
  • In 2006, Nebraska sold $30 million worth of food to Cuba.
  • Nebraska’s worst mass shooting occurred at a mall in Omaha in 2007; the gunman injured five and killed nine.