50 Facts About Nebraska State You Should Know

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A lagoon surrounded by greenery with buildings in the back on a sunny day
Buildings and a lagoon along the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha, Nebraska

When you think about Nebraska, what comes to mind? Most people think about farmland, and that's about it.

However, did you know that Nebraska is the birthplace of Hollywood royalty Marlon Brando and one of the most successful investors of all time, Warren Buffet?

You probably don't know much about "flat water" (the English translation of the Oto Indian word Nebrathka - the term the state is named after). You probably also didn't know that Nebraska was initially called the "Great American Desert."

Get ready to impress your friends and family with your new trivia knowledge. Here are 50 facts about Nebraska State you should know.

  • 50 Nebraska facts

50 Nebraska State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About Nebraska
    1. Nebraska is the 16th largest state
    2. It's known as the "Cornhusker State"
    3. Marlon Brando was born here
    4. 100 million trees have been planted in this state
    5. Red Cloud is the most famous small town
    6. Kool-Aid wouldn't exist without the state
    7. Fred Astaire is from Omaha
    8. The Lied Jungle is the largest indoor rainforest
    9. Arbor Day is an official state holiday
    10. Flatwater Lake is Nebraska's Hamptons
    11. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is world famous
    12. Millions of birds migrate along the Platte River
    13. It's Warren Buffett's birthplace
    14. The southern part of the state was on the Oregon Trail
    15. The University of Nebraska State Museum's collection is impressive
  2. Interesting Nebraska Facts
    1. The Missouri River runs through it
    2. Chimney Rock National Historic Site is a western icon
    3. Scotts Bluff National Monument has been a guide for travelers
    4. President Gerald Ford was born here
    5. Nebraska fed soldiers in World War II
    6. Lincoln is the state's capital
    7. The white-tailed deer is beloved
    8. Look out for the meadowlark
    9. "Equality Before the Law" are words to live by
    10. The Nebraska state flower grows everywhere
  3. Cool Facts About Nebraska
    1. It was the last to create a flag
    2. The cottonwood reminds you of pioneers
    3. There's an official state soft drink
    4. The Sandhills take up 25% of the territory
    5. 500 thousand cranes fly through Grand Island
  4. Weird Facts About Nebraska
    1. Yankton shares a border
    2. It may have more miles of river than other states
    3. There's even a state song
    4. A New Yorker designed the capitol
    5. The largest mammal fossil was found here
  5. Nebraska History Facts
    1. Its name means "flat water"
    2. It used to be called the "Great American Desert"
    3. Nebraska has extensive underground water reserves
    4. You can find the largest hand-planted forest here
    5. 911 was first used here
  6. Scary Facts About Nebraska
    1. There's a haunted movie theater
    2. The largest collection of haunted objects is here
    3. Weeping Water's stream is supposedly made of tears
    4. There are supposedly radioactive hornets
    5. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln could crumble
  7. Random Facts About Nebraska
    1. Nebraska has the largest weight room in the United States
    2. The Reuben sandwich was a Nebraska invention
    3. The honeybee is a state symbol
    4. It is the 37th US state
    5. World's largest porch swing is in a small town

Show all

Fun Facts About Nebraska

Lost_in_the_Midwest/Depositphotos.com
A dome made of steel and glass surrounded by trees and plants
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of the fun facts about Nebraska State

Nebraska is the 16th largest state

Covering 77 thousand square miles, Nebraska is the 16th largest state in the US. Nebraska is further divided into 93 different counties.

Its population, however, is mostly centered around the largest cities. A large proportion of the land, 96%, is designated for farmland.

A green tractor in a corn field on a clear day
A field of corn, the state's highest produced crop, in Nebraska

It's known as the "Cornhusker State"

Since the vast majority of the state is made up of farmland, it's no wonder that agriculture is a huge part of the economy. One of the state's biggest exports is corn.

Corn is "husked", or harvested, by hand. As such, harvesters are called Cornhuskers - one of the fun facts of Nebraska that gives it a distinct character. This moniker helped the state earn its nickname.

Marlon Brando was born here

For 60 years, Marlon Brando was considered Hollywood royalty. His work in countless classics made him a household name. However, not many people know that this talented actor was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1924.

He came from a working-class family that inspired him to work hard and develop the determination he needed to earn his success.

100 million trees have been planted in this state

Even though it isn't as developed as other more populated places, the state has still done its part in trying to preserve its natural wildlife. Nebraska's Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) started their tree planting initiative for that reason.

Starting in 1972, the state worked on its goal to help preserve natural resources in the state. In 2021, the NRDs finally achieved its target and planted 100 million trees. That would equal roughly 50 trees for every Nebraska resident.

Red Cloud is the most famous small town

Willa Cather is one of the most important historic writers in American history. Due to her contributions in literature, her childhood home has been deemed a historic place.

Red Cloud is an otherwise run-of-the-mill small town in Nebraska. However, it's become a living memorial in Cather's honor which draws thousands of visitors every year.

Kool-Aid wouldn't exist without the state

In 1927, the town of Hastings, Nebraska changed beverage history. Inspired by Jello-O, Edwin Perkins decided to try to create a powdered drink mix.

Initially, Perkins invented a liquid drink concentrate that would flavor water and create new beverages. However, when shipping bottles became too expensive, he figured out how to make a more efficient powder instead.

Fred Astaire is from Omaha

Fred Astaire called the state home as he was born in Omaha in 1899. Astaire became a star thanks to his skills as a dancer, actor, and singer. He earned many awards throughout his career, including a Special Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Lied Jungle is the largest indoor rainforest

It would be easy to call the Lied Jungle just a simple zoo. In actuality, it's the largest indoor rainforest in the world.

Of course, the rainforest is all man-made, but it's meticulously designed to emulate an authentic habitat. The animals housed in the jungle aren't kept in traditional cages to help replicate their natural environments.

Arbor Day is an official state holiday

Although most people know about Arbor Day, it is typically a holiday that wasn't observed. This is not the case in Nebraska. Since 1872, it's been an official holiday in the state.

April 10th was the original date for the holiday, but it was later changed to April 22nd. Now the holiday is officially recognized nationwide. However, Nebraska still takes the celebration more seriously.

Flatwater Lake is Nebraska's Hamptons

Nebraska being a landlocked state hasn't stopped it from creating luxury waterfront areas. The Flatwater Lake development in the otherwise small town of Valley, Nebraska is a prime example of that.

Aimed to be the state's version of the Hamptons, the lake is meant to be a recreational hotspot for boating, water skiing, and swimming. Flatwater Lake has started becoming so popular it's even caused the state's population to boom.

A fawn standing on a rocky area with leafless branches nearby
A fawn in Henry Doorly Zoo, considered one of the world's best zoos

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is world famous

With 160 acres of land, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is routinely considered one of the best zoos in the world. It's even the home of the Lied Jungle.

The zoo is dedicated to education and conservation. Each exhibit is intended to replicate the natural habitats of the animals housed by the zoo as closely as possible.

Aerial view of a bridge over a shallow braided river
Aerial shot of a bridge over Platte River, a site of bird migration in Nebraska

Millions of birds migrate along the Platte River

Platte River is one of the breeding places of birds in the northern part of the United States. Every year, as the weather starts to get warm, millions of birds stop in the area. Ducks, geese, and cranes are among the most numerous of the birds that stop here.

It's Warren Buffett's birthplace

One of the country's biggest businessmen, Warren Buffett, was born in Omaha to a congressman for the state.

Buffett's family ties helped him get his foot in the door of business, which paved the way to becoming one of the most successful men in the world. As of 2022, the Oracle of Omaha is one of the wealthiest people in the United States.

The southern part of the state was on the Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail was a wagon route that spanned over 2000 miles, connecting parts of Kansas with Oregon. During the westward expansion that saw settlers spread toward the Pacific coast, it saw hundreds of passing wagons every day.

Though it wasn't yet a state, part of the trail passed through what is now Nebraska. This pathway is part of what helped create the territory's initial cities.

The University of Nebraska State Museum's collection is impressive

The University of Nebraska has an impressive collection of educational and historic materials, making it a prominent place for higher education. However, you don't have to be a student to see it as the school has created a museum for visitors.

The science departments have an impressive collection of crystal, fossil, and meteorite samples. In addition, the history and literature departments house thousands of manuscripts, letters, and original photos in their archives.

Interesting Nebraska Facts

A sandstone rock formation in the background of blooming sunflowers on a valley
The 300-foot Chimney Rock is an iconic and historic landmark in Nebraska
Aerial view of a barge on a river with farmlands on either side
Nebraska is one of the 7 states that the Missouri River runs through

The Missouri River runs through it

The Missouri River is the longest in the United States and runs through seven different states. Nebraska is the last stop along its route before it gets to Missouri.

The river is open to the public, which makes it one of the most popular places for fishing and boating in the state. Just watch out, the river forms the border with Kansas, so you might cross into another state without realizing it!

Chimney Rock National Historic Site is a western icon

Chimney Rock is a nearly 300-foot natural rock formation in the western part of Nebraska. Due to its distinct size and shape, it became a landmark that helped guide settlers on their way west.

Its notoriety continued well after the initial westward expansion. It has since become an icon representing the West.

A steep layered rock formation with a grassland at its foot
Scotts Bluff, a natural monument, is home to various animals and plants

Scotts Bluff National Monument has been a guide for travelers

One of the interesting facts about Nebraska is that Scotts Bluff National Monument helped guide travelers. Settlers and Native Americans alike used the tall bluffs to guide them.

Now the area is a national monument. You can hike the trails and catch a glimpse of the different animals and plants that are native to this part of the state.

President Gerald Ford was born here

If you're interested in historic fun facts for Nebraska, you should know that it's the birthplace of President Gerald Ford. The 38th US president was born in Omaha on July 14, 1913.

His first home was his grandparents' house on Woolworth Avenue, although he only lived there for a few weeks. The site has become a national historic place that allows you to learn about this historic figure's early life.

Nebraska fed soldiers in World War II

As part of America's Heartland, Nebraska was crucial to World War II's war efforts in an underrated way. Farmers were hard at work planting and harvesting enough crops to not only feed US citizens in America but also soldiers overseas.

Nebraska was also a hospitality state. Trains that transported soldiers often stopped at the North Platte Canteen, for example, where they were given food, drinks, and other gifts before being deployed.

Lincoln is the state of Nebraska's capital city
The Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, the state's capital and second largest city

Lincoln is the state's capital

Even though Omaha is easily its most well-known city, the capital of Nebraska State is Lincoln. The decision to make Lincoln the seat of the state's power was a logistical one.

Omaha was difficult to reach due to the Platte River blocking southern Nebraskans. To give all citizens better access to the government, the second-largest city was chosen.

The white-tailed deer is beloved

The Nebraska state animal, the white-tailed deer, is a symbol of this great Midwestern state. The choice was made official in 1981.

The white-tailed deer can be found all over the US. Nebraska shares this animal as a symbol with 10 other states.

Look out for the meadowlark

The Nebraska state bird is a little less common than its state animal. The western meadowlark has been a state symbol since 1929.

These little birds are easily recognizable by their bright yellow chest and belly. It's also audibly recognizable thanks to its chirping, which has often been described as joyful.

"Equality Before the Law" are words to live by

The Nebraska state motto sets itself apart from the mottos of many other states. That's because it's in English, not Latin, French, or Spanish. You'll see "Equality Before the Law" in all the state's seals and official documents.

However, unofficially, you might see or hear one of the state's other slogans. "Visit Nebraska, Visit Nice" was widely used for years before it was changed. It was replaced by the more humorous "Nebraska: Honestly, It's Not for Everyone."

A plant with small yellow flowers
Nebraska has an abundance of goldenrod, the state flower

The Nebraska state flower grows everywhere

One of the most interesting facts on Nebraska for tourists to know is that if you visit the state, you're almost guaranteed to see another Nebraska state symbol. The goldenrod can be seen growing in fields everywhere.

This flower is easy to see due to its bright yellow color. There are over 100 different species of this flower, all of which can be found in nearly any open field.

Cool Facts About Nebraska

Long tree branches with golden leaves in front of a blue sky
The cottonwood tree is the state tree of Nebraska

It was the last to create a flag

The current Nebraska state flag has been official since 1963, though the design dates back to 1925. It shows the state seal in gold on a blue background.

Though the state seal has been used since 1867, it was the last state to adopt a flag for itself. The flag shows a blacksmith at work along a river and near a cornfield.

A bottom-up view of a large tree trunk with golden yellow foliage
A giant cottonwood tree with leaves yellowing in the fall

The cottonwood reminds you of pioneers

Did you know that the Nebraska state tree was chosen for its connection to the first pioneers in the state? The cottonwood has been the state tree since 1972, having replaced the American elm.

When pioneers made the trip across the Nebraska frontier, they were often left with little protection from the sun. The abundant cottonwoods in the state guaranteed some shade and a place to rest on the journey.

There's an official state soft drink

As you've already read, Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska in 1964. It later became extremely popular all over the country.

Due to this sudden rise in popularity, the state decided to commemorate it by naming it the official state soft drink. The decision to make the powdered drink a state symbol was made in 1998.

View from the top of a river winding through grasslands
Dismal River running through Nebraska Sandhills, a state National Natural Landmark

The Sandhills take up 25% of the territory

The Nebraska Sandhills is a unique part of the state's geography. They're sand dunes that have become so stable that prairie grasses grow on them.

Since 1984 this area has been designated a National Natural Landmark due to its one-of-a-kind landscape. The Sandhills are so vast that they make up around 25% of the state's total land area.

Cranes and geese on the ground and flying above with leafless trees in the back
Sandhill cranes and snow geese in Nebraska during their annual migration

500 thousand cranes fly through Grand Island

Grand Island can be found along the Platte River, a hotspot for migrating birds each spring. Though there are millions of birds that stop here, the Sandhill cranes are among the most popular for bird watchers.

Half a million of these cranes fly through Grand Island every year as the weather gets warmer. Viewing these massive flocks of birds has become so popular there's even a viewing deck for tourists.

Weird Facts About Nebraska

A cottonwood log on the shore of a river and a steel bridge in the back
The Meridian Bridge over Missouri River on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota

Yankton shares a border

Often, lists of Nebraska facts and information fail to mention that the state borders South Dakota. It's one of the six other states that landlock it.

Unlike traditional borders, South Dakota and Nebraska share a river border as well as a land one. Yankton, South Dakota is just across the Missouri River from Nebraska.

Aerial shot of a river meandering over a green valley
Dismal River is one of the many rivers in Nebraska

It may have more miles of river than other states

Nebraska has a lot of land, but it has its fair share of rivers as well. Rumor has it that it had the most miles of river than any other state in the country.

It's unclear if that's accurate. However, Nebraska does have over 70 thousand miles of rivers to its name.

There's even a state song

Did you know that Nebraska has a state song? It's called "Beautiful Nebraska," and it was originally written in 1960. Initially, the song was music only, without lyrics.

The words to the song were added in 1967 shortly before it was designated the official song of the state. Today, you can hear different renditions of the song at state events.

A white building with a dome tower surrounded by trees on a sunny day
The Nebraska State Capitol was designed by a New Yorker, Bertram Goodhue

A New Yorker designed the capitol

The Nebraska State Capitol is arguably the most important building in the state. It's where the government meets and makes all its decisions about Nebraska laws.

You might be surprised to learn that the architect behind its design, Bertram Goodhue, was a New Yorker, not a Nebraskan. He designed the capitol in the art deco style after winning a competition for the job.

The largest mammal fossil was found here

If you go to Nebraska, you should visit Archie. That's the name that was given to the largest Colombian mammoth skeleton ever found.

The skeleton is over 15 feet tall and is on display at the University of Nebraska Museum. Not only is he displayed there, but he was also found in the state as well.

Nebraska History Facts

Aerial shot of a lookout tower and road winding through a forest
A lookout tower in the Nebraska National Forest, a 90,000-acre planted forest

Its name means "flat water"

It's interesting where the word "Nebraska" comes from. It's from the Oto Indian word Nebrathka, which means "flat water." The term refers to the Platte River, an important body of water in the state.

It used to be called the "Great American Desert"

An interesting fact about Nebraska is that it was once referred to as part of the "Great American Desert." Although agriculture is currently a driving force in the state's economy, it was thought that nothing would grow in the state.

Stephen H. Long is the first known person to use the term after an expedition he conducted in the 1820s. Though his journey was scientific, it was clearly quite flawed.

Nebraska has extensive underground water reserves

Nebraska has more groundwater than any other state in the country. That's because much of the High Plains Aquifer can be found in the state.

This aquifer spans eight states and almost 200 thousand miles. That's not the only aquifer in the state. There are over 4000 wells spread out under the state's land reserving water.

You can find the largest hand-planted forest here

As mentioned, Nebraska's love for trees has resulted in millions being planted around the state. A large number of those trees can be found in the Nebraska National Forest.

This forest is spread out over 90 thousand acres. It's the largest hand-planted forest in the world. It's open to the public for hiking, camping, and other outdoor recreational activities.

911 was first used here

The invention of the 911 system revolutionized the way people were able to handle emergencies. It's one of the most important inventions in American civil history.

The very first 911-type call dates back to the 1960s in Alabama, however, it was a rudimentary system at that time. One of the first implementations of the modern system was in Nebraska in the late 1980s.

Scary Facts About Nebraska

Omaha is home to one of the scary facts about Nebraska state
Omaha downtown at night time with streetlights casting shadows over the street

There's a haunted movie theater

Alliance is a relatively small and ordinary town in Nebraska. You wouldn't guess that one of the state's most haunted places is here!

You can see a movie at the Alliance Theater and maybe catch a glimpse of a ghost while you're there. Since the 1930s, when it was converted from a hotel into a theater, people have claimed to see unexplained shadows.

The largest collection of haunted objects is here

The Museum of Shadows in Omaha is perfect for fans of spooky things! It is home to 3000 objects that have been certified as haunted.

That number marks the most extensive collection of haunted artifacts in the world. It's also earned the title of the "World's Most Haunted Museum."

Weeping Water's stream is supposedly made of tears

One of the scariest historical facts about Nebraska has to do with the legend of Weeping Water. According to lore, after a fierce battle where many warriors lost their lives, the wives and mothers left behind mourned.

Supposedly, they cried so much that their tears began to overflow enough to form a stream. It's unknown if this legend is authentically Native American or if it was made up by settlers. Either way, it's now an important part of Nebraska's history.

There are supposedly radioactive hornets

The 1940s introduced the world to nuclear power. It wasn't long before urban legends started to spread about radiation affecting wildlife around the world.

One of the legends that gained popularity was the myth that radioactive hornets could be found in Nebraska. There were never any verified cases, but that hasn't stopped people from telling the story!

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln could crumble

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has its own urban legend. The story says that if a young woman graduated without being kissed during her time at school, the columns on the school's campus would crumble.

Since the legend first began decades ago, the columns have been dubbed the "kissing columns." They've also been moved to another location on the grounds where they can be better preserved.

Random Facts About Nebraska

Trees and posts in front of buildings and a clear sky in the background
Buildings in Omaha, Nebraska on a clear day
wolterke/Depositphotos.com
A brick entrance to a walkway that says University of Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame
The entrance to the University of Nebraska's Athletic Department Hall of Fame

Nebraska has the largest weight room in the United States

The University of Nebraska's Lincoln campus takes its athletics department seriously. In 2005, the school constructed a 30 thousand-square-foot weight room.

A weight room that size makes it the largest in the country. That's not all, the university has continued to add on to the weight room's complex, so it will continue to hold onto its title.

The Reuben sandwich was a Nebraska invention

The Reuben sandwich is a staple in delis and restaurants across the United States. Did you know that it was invented in Omaha?

In 1925, a grocer decided to bring sandwiches to a local poker game to feed the hungry players. The mix of corned beef, Swiss cheese, and rye bread was so popular one of the players added it to the menu of his hotel's restaurant.

The honeybee is a state symbol

Honeybees are essential to ecosystems, and Nebraska is one of the first places to fully recognize how important they are.

In 1975, the state declared the honeybee the official state insect. Since most of Nebraska's land is dedicated to farming, bees help ensure crops continue to grow.

It is the 37th US state

One of the facts on Nebraska that you cannot miss is that it became the 37th state to join the Union. It earned its statehood in 1867.

Like most US states, it was a territory before it earned its star on the country's flag. The land was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and the state's borders were determined in 1854.

World's largest porch swing is in a small town

You've likely never heard of Hebron, Nebraska, but it's home to a world-record-holding attraction. It's where you can find the world's largest covered porch swing in town.

The porch swing can seat up to 24 adults. It was originally built in 1985, but it didn't start to gain notoriety until 2016. The swing has earned the town the title of "Nebraska's Porch Swing Capital."

In Summary

What did you think about this list? Were you surprised by any fact? Clearly, there are a lot of things about Nebraska that are worth knowing.

From historical and spooky to just interesting, there are dozens of other facts that didn't make this list. Start doing your own research so you can be fully prepared for your trip to this great state!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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