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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

100th Meridian Museum

The 100th Meridian Museum, located adjacent to the Henri Museum, houses the antique touring coach used by William Howard Taft and his family when they toured Yellowstone Park in 1907

Cozad, NE Museums


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

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


Lake Helen

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

Gothenburg, NE Recreation

Sod House Museum

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

Gothenburg, 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

Union Pacific Depot

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

Cozad, NE Railroad History

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


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

Explore Dawson County