Niobrara, Nebraska

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Niobrara (pronounced /ˌnaɪ.əˈbrærə/, from the Omaha Ní Ubthátha Tʰáⁿwaⁿgthaⁿ, pronounced [nĩꜜ ubɫᶞaꜜɫᶞa tʰãꜜwãŋɡɫᶞã], meaning "water spread-out village")[3] is a village in Knox County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 379 at the 2000 census.



Niobrara is located at 42°45′0″N 98°1′55″W / 42.75°N 98.03194°W / 42.75; -98.03194 (42.750000, -98.031989)[4].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.7 square miles (1.9 km²), all of it land.


Niobrara's beginning can be traced back to the year of 1856, when a group of men headed by a Dr. Benneville Yeakel Shelly marked their claim to an area on the banks of the Missouri. They built a log garrison of cottonwood, which later became known as "Old Cabin". The company, founded by Shelly and others, was called L'eau Qui Court Company.

The L'eau Qui Court Company failed and the Niobrara Township Company was organized. The new town was eventually called "Niobrara", an Indian word for "running water".

On June 29, 1857, a steam sawmill was brought to Niobrara from St. Louis by the steamer "Omaha" and was immediately put into operation sawing lumber for the building of the new town. In spite of early hardships, the new town continued to grow and the 1881 population was said to be about 500.

Through most of Niobrara's history, ferry boats have provided an important transportation link with South Dakota. The first ferry boat began operation in about 1860 and was operated by horses walking on a treadmill.

When Knox County was formed in 1877, Niobrara was named county seat.

Just as the Missouri River was responsible for the original settlement of Niobrara, it was also responsible for the first move. In March 1881 the spring thaw produced one of the largest Missouri River floods on record. On March 28, 1881, an ice gorge broke and Niobrara residents were greeted by a surge of muddy water. The water continued to overflow until most of the town was covered, forcing people and animals alike to seek the safety of higher ground. Fortunately, no lives were lost but this disastrous flood influenced the citizens of Niobrara to pick up and move to a new town site west and south of the old site. The town grew and flourished at the new location providing most of the goods and services required by a rural Nebraska community of that era.

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