Harlan County, Nebraska

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Harlan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Nebraska. As of 2000, the population was 3,786. Its county seat is Alma[1]. The county is home to the Harlan County Reservoir.

In the Nebraska license plate system, Harlan County is represented by the prefix 51 (it had the fifty-first-largest number of vehicles registered in the county when the license plate system was established in 1922).



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 574 square miles (1,486.7 km2), of which 553 square miles (1,432.3 km2) is land and 21 square miles (54.4 km2) (3.73%) is water.

Adjacent counties


Prior to 1870, the portion of the Republican valley that now includes Harlan County was a prized hunting ground for the Native Americans; and the threat of attack deterred white settlement in the area. The defeat of the Sioux at the Battle of Summit Springs in 1869 largely eliminated this threat, and several parties were organized to explore the agricultural possibilities of the area.[2]

A party of forty men from eastern Nebraska settled near the site of present-day Orleans in August 1870. In 1871, a party from Cheyenne, Wyoming, led by Thomas Harlan, settled near Alma,[3] which was named after a daughter of one of the settlers.[4] In that year, Harlan County was separated from Lincoln County by the Nebraska state legislature. Accounts differ as to the county's namesake: either Thomas Harlan,[5] or James Harlan, who was U.S. Secretary of the Interior between 1865 and 1866.[4]

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