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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


Pony Express Station

The Sam Machette Station was used as an early fur trading post/ranch house along the Oregon Trail southwest of Gothenburg before it was used as a Pony Express station during its operation between April 1860 and November 1861

Gothenburg, NE Pony Express

Historic Depot

In the years from 1863 to 1868 the railroad had become a certainty. During the five year period, the first operations of mapping, surveying, setting telegraph poles and planning the roadbed had been completed. The railroad through this territory was completed in 1868

Gothenburg, NE Railroad History

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

Eagle Viewing

The bald eagle has always captured the attention of Americans, so much so that in 1782 the Continental Congress chose the eagle as the national bird and the centerpiece for the nation's Great Seal. Over the years, the bald eagle acquired its status as a symbol of freedom and of the United States.

Lexington, NE Natural Attractions


Veterans' War Memorial

Located on the west shore of Lake Helen, this memorial is a reminder of sacrifices made by veterans and their families of all wars. The names listed commemorate local residents who gave their lives. World War I:

Gothenburg, NE Memorials

"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

Gothenburg Carnegie Library

The library was built in 1916 with assistance from a $7,000

Gothenburg, NE Carnegie Libraries

Pony Express Mural

The Pony Express galloped through the West in 18 short months before Nebraska gained statehood. The historic value of those early times is being preserved in Gothenburg, which was named Pony Express Capital of Nebraska in 1991

Gothenburg, NE Arts

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

Sod House Museum

The award-winning Sod House Museum was established in Gothenburg in 1988

Gothenburg, NE Museums

Explore Dawson County