Historical Markers in
Phelps County, Nebraska

Nebraska is known for its agricultural production, particularly for its corn, soybeans, and beef cattle.
Phelps County, Nebraska is located in the central part of the state and has a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century. The first recorded settlement in the area was in 1866 when pioneers began arriving and establishing homesteads. The county was officially organized in 1873 and named after William Phelps, a prominent politician from the Civil War era.

In its early years, Phelps County was primarily an agricultural community, with farming and ranching being the main economic activities. The construction of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad in 1879 greatly enhanced the county's growth and connectivity, attracting more settlers and facilitating the transportation of goods and produce.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Phelps County experienced a period of rapid growth and development. Small towns and villages sprouted up, often centered around grain elevators and small industries. The county became known for its fertile farmland, producing crops such as corn, wheat, and oats. The early 20th century also saw the establishment of various educational institutions, including Phelps County High School and Holdrege Junior College, which later became Central Community College.

In the modern era, Phelps County has continued to thrive as an agricultural community, with advancements in technology and farming practices driving productivity. The county's economy has gradually diversified, with the growth of industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation. Today, Phelps County retains its rural charm while offering a range of amenities and services to its residents and visitors.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Phelps County, Nebraska.

  • 1867 - Phelps County is established on June 21, 1867, by the Nebraska Legislature.
  • 1871 - First agricultural settlers arrive in Phelps County.
  • 1873 - The first school is established in Phelps County.
  • 1874 - The town of Phelps Center is founded.
  • 1876 - The Nebraska and Colorado Railroad is built through Phelps County.
  • 1879 - The town of Holdrege is established along the railroad.
  • 1883 - The Holdrege Land and Improvement Company is formed, promoting the growth of the town.
  • 1884 - Phelps County Courthouse is built in Holdrege.
  • 1887 - The Holdrege Nebraskan newspaper is established.
  • 1890 - Phelps County's population reaches over 4,000 residents.
  • 1909 - The State Industrial School is established in Holdrege.
  • 1923 - Phelps County Memorial Hospital is built.
  • 1928 - The Holdrege Daily Citizen newspaper is established.
  • 1935 - The Phelps County Historical Society is founded.
  • 1956 - The Nebraska State Fair is held in Holdrege for the first time.
  • 1965 - The Holdrege Dam and Cambridge Canal project is completed, providing irrigation to the area.
  • 1970 - Phelps County's population reaches its peak at over 8,000 residents.
  • 1990 - The Orphan Train Museum is opened in Holdrege.
  • 2005 - Phelps County celebrated its 150th anniversary.