Nebraska became the 37th state to join the country on March 1, 1867, and is the only triply-landlocked state in the union. It’s also the only state with a non-partisan/unicameral legislature. Just under 2 million people make their homes in Nebraska, and though the population is small, many firsts took place in the Cornhusker State.
The 9-1-1 emergency response system was developed and first used in Lincoln, and Kool-Aid was first served in the town of Hastings. The world’s largest train yard sits on almost 3,000 acres in North Platte, Nebraska, and the largest hand-planted forest—90,000 acres in size—is also located among the Huskers. Surprised? Here are seven more interesting things that you might not have known about the state of Nebraska.
Cornhuskers Football has an almost religious following.
Nebraskans like their football, and for more than 50 years, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers football team has had one of the most dedicated fan bases of any college team. On game day, Memorial Stadium in Lincoln becomes the third largest city in the state, with over 90,000 screaming fans in the stands. In fact, the stadium is sometimes referred to as the spiritual center of the state, thanks to the fanatical following of Husker football.
And they really love Runzas.
Runzas are unique to Nebraskans, and they are extremely popular. A Runza is a sandwich made with a chewy bread pocket that is filled with beef, onions, and cabbage. Local folklore tells of the supposed lengths Nebraskans will go to just to get one (even though they can be bought locally). One story tells of a man who traded his vehicle for one of the famed sandwiches. Really? A car for a sandwich? Sounds more like a lost bet than a trade.
Cornhuskers double as tree huggers.
Arbor Day is very important to Nebraskans—and largely because the observance was first created in the state. On April 10, 1872, U. S. Secretary of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton led an initiative to plant one million trees in Nebraska. This was the very first Arbor Day. By 1920, 45 states had adopted the holiday as well. Arbor Day is celebrated all year long at the Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure in Nebraska City, Nebraska. There’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Take a stroll along South Table Creek into the forest or climb up into the 50-foot-tall treehouse. Kids can learn about the natural world all around them in one of two Nature Explore classrooms, and everyone gets to take home a seedling!
The Cornhusker State was the birthplace for several famous faces.
Actors Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda and The Brady Bunch’s Mike Brady—Robert Reed—were all born in Nebraska, along with The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson and comedian Larry the Cable Guy. President Gerald Ford was initially a Cornhusker, as was Vice President Dick Cheney, dancer Fred Astaire, and Civil Rights Leader Malcolm X.
It’s home to the 3rd wealthiest man on earth.
Warren Edward Buffett was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on August 30, 1930. The son of U. S. Republican Congressman Howard Buffett, he purchased his first stocks at the age of 11 and filed his first tax return at the age of 13. He is considered the top investor of all time. As CEO of Berkshire Hathaway—a holdings group that owns more than 60 companies, including GEICO, Ebby Halliday, Helzberg Diamonds, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Pampered Chef, Dairy Queen, Duracell and Burlington Northern Santa Fe—Buffett has amassed a fortune. As of April 2019, his net worth was a staggering $86.7 billion, making him the third wealthiest human on earth.
And how’s this for a wow factor—despite his astronomical wealth, Buffett still lives in the Omaha, Nebraska, house he bought in 1958 for $31,500.
Alliance, Nebraska, is home to Stonehenge—Cornhusker-style.
Along County Road 59 in Alliance, Nebraska, visitors are stopping to take a look at a strange stone formation. But upon closer inspection, they find that the circular formation is not made from stones, but rather from 39 different American-made vintage automobiles, each spray-painted gray. The so-called “Carhenge” was erected in 1987 by artist Jim Reinders and his family in memory of his father. The vehicles are partially buried—some trunk side down, some upright in pits that are five feet deep. The automobiles assume the same positions as the giant stones arranged at Stonehenge. The automobiles are erected in a circle, 96 feet in diameter. The heel stone of the formation was created with a 1962 Cadillac.
There is no admission fee charged to visit Carhenge, and it is open to the public all day, every day. However, there is absolutely no camping allowed on the premises, and the best time to enjoy the attraction is during daylight hours.
Seward, Nebraska, is the site of a gigantic time capsule.
Harold Keith Davisson of Seward, Nebraska, became a bit of a local celebrity back in 1975 when he dedicated his giant time capsule on Independence Day. Davisson owned the House of Davisson furniture store, and he wanted to be sure his grandkids remembered him—by sharing with them what life was like for him in the 1970s. So he filled a 45-ton vault with more than 5,000 items and had it buried on the lawn surrounding his furniture shop.
The vault contains a brand-new 1975 Chevrolet Vega, a Kawasaki motorcycle, a case of Husker Pop, a scholarship fund (and bank books to go with it—and money in two different banks in Seward that are drawing interest), a set of bowling pins and a ball, a 50-pound bag of hybrid seed corn, a flag that flew over Washington, D.C., records, fireworks and an aquamarine leisure suit, among other items.
In 1977, Davisson achieved his dream—the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest time capsule on earth. But quickly, a college in Georgia challenged this claim, stating they had the larger time capsule, though the college’s “time capsule” was actually only a blocked off room inside the school. Guinness dropped the category, but Davisson wouldn’t be outdone, so in 1983, he built a second pyramid-shaped time capsule on the ground that covered the first capsule, thus sealing his achievement (as well as providing a watershed for the initial capsule). Inside the pyramid sits a beat-up 1975 Datsun, scores of telephone books and packages put together by residents of the town. The capsule is to be opened on July 4, 2025—50 years after its dedication.