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Dawson County, NE

Dawson CountyDawson County is located on what was the first transcontinental highway--the overland route to the west. The county was formed in 1871, just four years after the state joined the Union, March 1, 1867, and has played a major part in the development of Central Nebraska. The story of Dawson County's growth is important to you whether you live here, or in New York or California, Texas or Minnesota, because so much of our country's early history was shaped by the people who passed through here on the Oregon Trail, the Union Pacific Railroad, and later on the Lincoln Highway and U.S. Highway 30.


The Oregon Trail, the Overland Trail, and Routes of the Mormons--all passed through this valley enroute to the west, both sides of the river being used.


Aerial photographs still show the imprint of the wagon ruts in the fields south of the river. Although cultivation has erased most signs of the old Trails, the photographs still show them plainly, due to the different colors of dirt that blew into the old ruts. These will soon merge into other soil, obliterating the last visible vestiges of the old Trails, except for the very few original Pony Express Stations remaining.


The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill, near what is now Sacramento, California, on January 24, 1848, touched off the greatest migration of history.


Paradoxically, the "Days of '49" really began in 1848. News spread slowly in those days, but travel was even slower.


But by 1849 the rush was on in earnest, and although the tide of immigrants diminished somewhat, it continued to flow up the broad Platte Valley until the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific, in 1868.


But even today the plains of the Platte continue to be the preferred route to -- and from -- the West. The Union Pacific is now flanked by Interstate 80 and Highway 30, while overhead fly the big airliners.


The early immigrants had the glitter of gold in their eyes, and failed to see the gold lying beneath the soil of the Platte Valley--the gold of agriculture and the water to make it pay.

Explore Dawson County


Willow Island Pony Express Station

The Pony Express Station which stands in the Cozad City Park was known officially as the Willow Island Station and was located just south of the present Darr Bridge. The station began in 1838

Cozad, NE Pony Express

Lake Helen

Foresighted citizens approved a bond issue in 1889 for construction of a 12

Gothenburg, NE Recreation

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles

A new museum with over 60 completely restored and operational military vehicles spanning from WWII to the present. See Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a rare Snow Tractor, Bomb Loader, Tractor Dozer, M-60 Tanks, half-tracks, jeeps, "weasels"

Lexington, NE Museums

Swedish Crosses Cemetery

For over a century, three unique crosses have been a lasting symbol of the Swedish heritage of Gothenburg. In the early 1880s, Peter and Anna Berg, along with Anna'

Gothenburg, NE Cemeteries

Ernest A. Calling House

Ernest A. Calling, a pioneer businessman of Gothenburg, hired L.J. Anderson to build this distinctive Queen Anne style home in 1907. Born in Klipp, Sweden, in 1870, Calling emigrated to the United States in 1889

Gothenburg, NE National Register


John J. Cozad - Biography

It was a beautiful summer Sunday in 1872

Cozad, NE Famous People

City Parks

Gothenburg has four parks covering 55 acres. Facilities include swings, picnic areas, pool, athletic fields, football stadium, ball parks, camping areas, and playground equipment. Two playgrounds in Gothenburg have all types of playground equipment. Lafayette Park:

Gothenburg, NE RV Parks

Union Pacific Depot

On October 15, 1866, the Union Pacific Railroad track laying crews reached the "100th Meridian"

Cozad, NE Railroad History

"The Little Church By the Park"

In 1909, a little white frame church was built on an acre of ground donated by Ernest and Mary Love. It was called New Hope. Around the year 1920

Cozad, NE Historic Churches

Historical Markers

Three major pioneer trails, the Oregon, the Mormon, and the Chisholm, as well as the Pony Express went through the Cozad area.

Historical Markers

Cozad, NE Monuments

Explore Dawson County