Historical Marker in
Rock County, Nebraska

The University of Nebraska was founded in 1869, just two years after Nebraska became a state.
Rock County, Nebraska, located in the heart of the Great Plains, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. Native American tribes, such as the Sioux and Pawnee, were the first inhabitants of the area. They relied on the natural resources of the region for sustenance and built communities along the nearby rivers.

The first Europeans to set foot in Rock County were explorers and fur traders in the early 1800s. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as other traders, ventured through the area, establishing trading posts and further influencing the Native American way of life. However, it wasn't until the Homestead Act of 1862 that settlers began to permanently inhabit the county.

The establishment of the Oregon and California Trails, as well as the completion of the Union Pacific Railroad in the late 1800s, brought a wave of new settlers to Rock County. The fertile soil and abundant water sources attracted farmers and ranchers, and the county quickly became known for its agriculture, particularly cattle ranching.

The early 20th century saw the development of small towns within Rock County, such as Bassett and Newport, which served as hubs for trade and social gatherings. The advent of modern technology, such as electricity and automobiles, further transformed the county and enabled its residents to have a more connected and convenient lifestyle. Today, Rock County remains predominantly rural, with agriculture still playing a significant role in its economy, but it has also embraced some modern industries and amenities to meet the needs of its residents.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Rock County, Nebraska.

  • 1803 - The area of Rock County was part of the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1855 - The first white settlers arrived in the county.
  • 1866 - Rock County was established and named after the rock formations found in the area.
  • 1880s - The railroad reached the county, spurring growth and development.
  • 1884 - Bassett, the county seat, was established.
  • Early 1900s - Agriculture became the main economic activity in the county.
  • 1940s - Rock County experienced a decline in population due to drought and economic challenges.
  • 2000s - Efforts were made to promote tourism and diversify the local economy.