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.
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The feature that sets Nebraska Prairie Museum apart from other museums is its unique POW display. German POW's were housed at Camp Atlanta during W.W. II. These prisoners told stories of their exceptional treatment and lifelong friendships that developed through the adversity of war.Holdrege, NE Museums