Harlan County, Nebraska, is one of the state's lesser-known counties, but its history is full of interesting stories and events. Here are seven facts about Harlan County that showcase its rich history.
1. The Oregon Trail ran through Harlan County.
In the mid-19th century, the Oregon Trail was one of the most popular routes for pioneers heading westward to start a new life. Harlan County was part of this historic route. Today, you can still see wagon ruts along the trail in the county and even visit Pony Express Stations that were used to deliver mail and messages.
2. Harlan County was named after William Harlan.
William Harlan was an early settler in the area, arriving in Harlan County in 1857. He was a farmer and a prominent citizen, serving as a county commissioner and state senator. When the county was established in 1871, it was named after him.
3. Alma, the county seat, was once known as Riverside.
When Harlan County was established in 1871, the county seat was a town called Riverside. However, in 1874, the town was renamed Alma after the wife of a railroad executive.
4. The Republican River Flood of 1935 devastated the area.
The Great Depression was a tough time for many Americans, but Harlan County faced even more challenges when the Republican River Flood hit in 1935. The flood killed over 100 people in Nebraska, including 19 in Harlan County, and caused significant damage to the area.
5. The Harlan County Dam and Reservoir is the second-largest body of water in Nebraska.
Constructed between 1949 and 1953, the Harlan County Dam and Reservoir was built for flood control, irrigation, and recreation. Today, it's a popular spot for fishing, boating, and camping, and it covers over 13,200 acres.
6. The Harlan County Dam was a major Civilian Conservation Corps project.
During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided employment and training for young men. The Harlan County Dam was one of the CCC's biggest projects, and many of the workers lived in camps nearby.
7. Harlan County is home to the Pawnee Indian Museum.
Nebraska was once home to many Native American tribes, including the Pawnee. The Pawnee Indian Museum in Harlan County showcases the tribe's history and culture through exhibits and artifacts. Visitors can see items like traditional clothing, tools, and weapons.
Harlan County may be small, but its history is full of interesting facts and stories. From the Oregon Trail to the Pawnee Indian Museum, there's plenty to explore in this corner of Nebraska.
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