The historical marker on the Phelps County Courthouse lawn gives a brief history of Phelps County; The great immigrant roads to the west which followed the Platte River brought the first settlers to this area. Beginning in the late 1850s, these frontiersmen operated stage stations, road ranches and trading posts. An August attack upon a wagon train in northwestern Phelps County, known as the Plum Creek Massacre, was the initial incident of the Indian War of 1864.
Phelps county was organized on April 23, 1873, with the northern town of Williamsburg being named the county seat. The seat of government was moved to Phelps Center in 1879 and again to Holdrege, its present location, in 1883. Early settlers, lured by government homestead lands and cheap railroad lands, were mainly of Swedish descent. Excellence in education, religion and agriculture was their goal, as it is today.
This area is credited with one of the world's largest underground water supplies. The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, headquartered in Holdrege, operates the largest surface water irrigation project in Nebraska, providing direct and supplemental irrigation, hydroelectric generation, recreation and wildlife habitat benefits to Nebraska.
Explore Phelps County
The Nebraska Prairie Museum contains an exceptionally fine collection of over one acre of indoor exhibits. Explore every aspect of life on the prairie and uncover surprises around every corner. Be one of the many visitors who exclaim, "This is the finest museum I have ever visited."Holdrege, NE Museums
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.Holdrege, NE Birdwatching
The railroad offered a city block to the citizens of Holdrege if they would build a courthouse. The ambitious merchants promptly provided the funds and the cornerstone was dedicated on October 10, 1884. Subsequently, the voters approved removal of the county seat to Holdrege on November 11Holdrege, NE Historic Courthouses