Also known as “The Cornhusker State,” Nebraska is the 37th state in the United States. Once explored by the Lewis and Clark expedition and benefited by the California Gold Rush during the 19th century, Nebraska is one of the more progressive states today. It is largely an agricultural state, and is a major producer of beef, pork, corn sorghum and soybeans. It also has one of the lowest unemployment rates. Nebraska’s capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha.
However, it’s not all that! Nebraska is also home to many significant landmarks, wildlife, and inventions you may not have heard of. Here are 13 interesting facts about Nebraska you should know!
The Pine Region is an escarpment (steep cliff or slope) that is located between the Niobata River and the White River in northwestern Nebraska. The hills are heavily forested with several species of trees that include cottonwoods and the ponderosa pine, which proliferate the forests. There are animals living among the hills too, include a particularly large heard of bighorn sheep, as well elk, mule, deer and wild turkeys. The variety of flora and fauna in the Pine Ridge is somewhat unusual in Nebraska.
Meanwhile, the Pine Ridge region is also momentous as it served as the setting of the Indian Wars’ final chapters. It was the home to a number of bands of Lakotas. In the 1860s and the 1870s, several battles were fought by the Lakotas and the U.S. Army in the region. In 1877, Crazy Horse, the Oglala band’s war leader, was killed at Fort Robinson, now one of the major features in the Pine Ridge region. Two years later, Dull Knife, the great leader of the Northern Cheyenne people, spearheaded the Cheyenne Breakout from Fort Robinson.
For fans of arts and crafts, you can go to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. It was founded in 1997 when native Nebraskans Ardis and Robert James donated their collection that consisted of 950 quilts to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where the museum is also currently located.
The International Quilt Study Center and Museum exhibits over 4000 quilts from the US and abroad, dating from the early 18th century to the present day. The museum is known to have the largest collection of quilts in the world.
IQSCM’s collection is housed in privately-funded, environmentally sustainable, state-of-the-art museum houses with cutting-edge research and storage facilities and huge galleries. Its mission revolves around collecting, studying, preserving, exhibiting, and promoting quilts and quilting traditions, hailing from all over the world from different cultures and eras. Anyone is welcome to visit and gain new learnings from the museum.
A Reuben sandwich is a type of sandwich whose main and traditional ingredients consist of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing. It is usually served and eaten hot, as it is grilled between slices of rye bread. According some accounts, a Lithuanina-born grocer named Reuben Kulakofsky who was residing in Omaha, Nebraska, was the inventor of the sandwich somewhere from 1920 through 1935.
It was said that Kulakofsky created the sandwich for a group of weekly late-night poker players in Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel, who dubbed themselves “the committee.” Charles Schimmel, the hotel’s owner and one of the participants, liked the sandwich so much and decided to place it on the hotel restaurant’s lunch menu. March 14 is declared the National Reuben Sandwich Day in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Scotts Bluff National Monument is located in Scots Bluff County, western Nebraska. The Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail are two of the most important landmarks especially during the 19th century. The Scotts Bluff is named after conspicuous bluff or big rock whose highest point measures at 800 feet (240 meters) that rose above the plains.
Scotts Bluff was named after Hiram Scott, a fur trapper and trader, who died at the base of the magnificent bluff in 1828. Today, the historic national park protects over 3,000 acres of jagged badlands, mixed-grass prairie, remnants of overland routes, and soaring bluffs alongside the North Platte River.
During the 19th century the state of Nebraska was once dubbed as the “Great American Desert.” The term was once referred to the western part of the Great Plains (a vast expanse of flat land that lies in parts of Mexico, United States and Canada), east of the Rocky Mountains. Although it was called such then, the people who first settled in desert region were nevertheless determined pioneers. They constructed irrigation systems and developed scientific farming which helped transform Nebraska as a productive region for farming. Look at Nebraska now — it is currently one of the top 10 agricultural states in the US.
The Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) was named as the official state bird of Nebraska in 1929.
It’s conspicuous with its streaked black and brown back and wings and a vivid yellow chest with a distinct black “V” on the breast.
A medium-sized from the Icterid family, the western meadowlark measures about 22 centimeters (8.5 inches) in length. Its diet primarily consists of insects, but it will also consume berries and seeds. Closely resembling the eastern meadowlark, what distinguishes it from the latter is its gurgling musical song and flute-like calls.
Aside from Nebraska, five other states designated the western meadowlark as their state bird: Kansan, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, and North Dakota.
The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was designated as the official state mammal of Nebraska in 1981.
It is a beautiful, herbivorous deer found in the woods, brushy areas, and farmlands. It feeds primarily on green plants, acorns, corn, nuts, and other woody vegetation, depending on the season.
Boasting incredible power, it can jump over 9-foot fences, run up to 40mph, and swim 13mph. If it senses danger, it flashes the white underside of its tail to signal other deers or to help the young follow its mother during the escape.
Ten other states declared the white-tailed deer as one of their state symbols, which includes: Michigan, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Illinois, Oklahoma, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
“Beautiful Nebraska,” was written by Jim Frias (music) and Guy G. Millier (lyrics) in 1960. Seven years later it was adopted as the official state song of Nebraska.
Frias, an immigrant from Russia, said he got the inspiration for the song while driving in the countryside near Lincoln, Nebraska. He stopped and parked his card under the group of trees situated near a farm.
The new melody came into his mind while lying on his back and gazing at the beautiful blue sky. He returned home to finish the melody on the piano. Miller, his friend with a fervor for poetry, created the song’s lyrics. An easy ballad that any Nebraskan can sing, “Beautiful Nebraska” is treasured and considered a classic by the state people since its adoption as the state song.
The blue agate was officially adopted as Nebraska’s state gemstone in 1967, together with the prairie agate which was named the state rock or stone.
Also called blue chalcedony, it can be found in Sioux and Dawes counties in Northwestern Nebraska, where it formed in wind-blown silt and claystone in the Chadron Formation. A pale gem that often features a dark internal form with blue and white stripes and an uncolored streak, blue agate is commonly used in jewelry-making.
The eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) was named by Nebraska as its official state tree in 1972, replacing its former tree, the American elm.
The eastern cottonwood is often linked to early Nebraska, with a number of renowned pioneer landmarks in the state being these trees. Settlers also collected cottonwood shoots and planted them on their land claims. Today, these deciduous trees are growing throughout Nebraska and are widely used for timber production.
The civil and state flag of Nebraska consists of a blue rectangular field with the official state seal in the middle. It was adopted in 1925, but was officially designated as Nebraska’s state flag in 1963.
The goldenrod (Solidago gigantea) was declared as the state flower of Nebraska in 1895 by legislative action.
Various goldenrod species grow throughout Nebraska. Depending on the variety, this perennial flower grows a clump and can reach up to 4 feet when blooming. A member of the Aster family, its flower has small heads, which are typically almost always yellow but may appear with cream or white rays.
Also known as Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, it is a zoo located at 3701 South 10th Street, in the city of Omaha, Nebraska. In 2014 it was proclaimed as one of the best zoos in the world, according to the world’s leading travel website, TripAdvisor. It features a dozen or more exhibits including the Desert Dome, the Lied Jungle, the Durham Family Bear Canyon, Tree of Learning, Butterfly and Insect Pavilion. The zoom aims to conserve several species of animals as well as educating the public about them.
The zoo opened as “Riverview Park Zoo” in 1894. In 1963, the zoo received a hefty $750,000 donation from Margaret Hitchcock Doorly, but with a stipulation that the zoo would be named after Henry Doorly, his late husband. Thus, the change.
Today, the zoo has earned a number of records, such as having the world’s largest indoor desert, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, the world’s largest indoor swamp, and the world’s largest glazed geodesic dome.