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Jefferson County, NE

Jefferson County

Visitors to Jefferson County and the Fairbury area will find themselves deep in the heart of Oregon Trail Country. The historic trail, on which thousands of immigrants traveled west to California and Oregon, cuts diagonally across the county from the southeast corner to the northwest. Wagon ruts are still visible at Rock Creek Station Historical Park southeast of Fairbury, at George Winslow's grave site north of Fairbury and at various other locations across the county. Monuments have been erected along the route, along with monuments marking the sites of the Pony Express Route which also ran through the county. A monument marking the major stations in the county along with a Pony Express plaque is also located on the northeast corner of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairbury. The Tri-County Oregon Trail Monument gives the legend of the Oregon Trail through Washington County, Kan., Gage County and Jefferson County.


For twelve years and nine months, while Nebraska was still a territory, the present Jefferson County was Jones County. In 1867, Nebraska became a state, which included one very sizeable county called Jefferson. In 1871, D.C. Jenkins introduced a bill to divide this large county with the Sixth Principal Meridian being the division line. The settlers voted in favor of ratification and the eastern part became the present Jefferson County and the western portion has henceforth been known as Thayer County.


Tales of the discovery of gold attracted thousands of people to travel through the area on their way to the mountains. By the late 1850s road ranches were established to provide these fortune seekers with supplies. At Rock Creek Station on the Oregon Trail and Pony Express Route the legend of "Wild Bill" Hickok was born after he gunned down one David McCanles, and two station attendants.


The hills and canyons south and west of the Oregon Trail offered ideal places of retreat from which outlaws, robbers and desperados based their operations. Evidence of usage has been found of several such places. Rock-enclosed springs, remnants, and rock walls with a remaining position of certain rocks and soil indicate man's habitation of the area many years ago.


A Jefferson County self-guided day trip is listed in the attractions section and provides information about many historical sites throughout the county.




Explore Jefferson County

Four Corner Survey Marker

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of May 30, 1854, created the territories of Nebraska and Kansas, which had to be surveyed before settlement of the prairies could proceed. On May 8, 1855, Charles A. Manners set a cast-iron monument on the bluff west of the Missouri river at 40-degrees north latitude. In 1855

Fairbury, NE Historical Markers

Historic Homes Tour

1112 C Street: American Foursquare home built in 1902 by B.G. Dawson.

1016 D Street: Gothic-Georgian Revival 1910 Showhouse built by architect W.F. Gernandt.

822 E Street: Italiante home built in the 1870s.

1007 E Street:

Fairbury, NE Tours

Steele City Historical District

Four old restored buildings are the main attractions here. The district has a 1900 stone blacksmith's shop in working condition, 1902 stone livery stable, 1880's stone Baptist church and brick bank museum.

Steele City Blacksmith Shop:

Steele City, NE National Register

Fairbury City Park

Tourists, outdoorsmen and nature lovers have plenty of opportunities to take full advantage of the great outdoors while in Fairbury.

Fairbury has acres and acres and acres of parks.

The City Park, located on the southwest edge of town, is over 42

Fairbury, NE Recreation

Bonham Theatre

Both the Bonham Theatre, and the First National Bank, located on the northwest corner of Fifth and E streets, were at one time owned by Luther Bonham.

Bonham Theatre'

Fairbury, NE Theatres

Fairbury City Museum

This museum has been located for many years on the west side of the downtown square in Fairbury. It is now in a larger building that allows the display of items in a much more pleasant atmosphere and has more space for new items. The museum'

Fairbury, NE Museums

Rock Creek Station State Park

Rock Creek Station State Park is a Pony Express and emigrant station where James Butler Hickok gained his famed name, "Wild Bill", when he shot and killed the station attendant, D.C. McCanles, in 1861

Fairbury, NE Historic Sites

Jefferson County Courthouse

The Fairbury Journal-News once printed that the Jefferson County Courthouse was not a museum, but perhaps it should qualify. Business is still conducted daily but visitors may wish to stop in just to have a look at the building and it's contents. Built in 1891 at a cost of $60,000

Fairbury, NE Historic Courthouses

Historic Square

The Fairbury Commercial District, consisting of a 10-block downtown area of 97 contributing buildings, was officially entered in the National Register of Historic Places on June 20, 1997

Fairbury, NE National Register

Campbell Bros. Circus Mural

The Campbell Bros. Circus and other highlights of historic Fairbury are captured on this mural on the side of Globe Rexall Drugstore in downtown Fairbury.

The picture was created by Echo & Jeff Easton & Greg Holdren. The scene is 140 feet long & 38

Fairbury, NE Arts

I.0.0.F. Temple Building

What is today known as the Ackerman Building was originally called the I.0.0.F. Temple Building. It was the first building downtown to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building housed the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge 54 and was built in 1894-1

Fairbury, NE National Register


Explore Jefferson County