History, Department of


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College in the University of Nebraska in Partial Fullf illment of Requirements for the Degree of Masters of Arts, Department of History. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 1931


Chapter I. Nebraska Trails Before the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cut-off Located 1860
Chapter II. Origins of Nebraska City and Fort Kearny
Chapter III. Nebraska City Becomes a Government Freighting Depot
Chapter IV. Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Cut-off or Steam Wagon Road
Chapter V. Along the Trail
Chapter VI. Historical Significance of the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Trail

The most outstanding contributions of the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny cut-off to the development of Nebraska would seem to lie in the fact that it penetrated into the very heart of the rich South Platte prairies and opened them up to settlement at a much earlier date than would otherwise have been possible. As traffic over the trail increased, ranches were set up and people gathered about these ranches to engage in merchandising, blacksmithing and other lines of business. In this way, small settlements were formed and as emigrants came along, they selected land near those ranches.

The part which the Nebraska City-Fort Kearny Trail played in the development of the territory west of Nebraska lies primarily in the fact that it afforded the shortest route from the Missouri river to Fort Kearny in both time and distance. The road itself was much better than any of the other trails because it had practically no sand and it had no large streams that were not adequately bridged. Because of the shorter distance and the excellent road bed, it was possible to travel much faster in going to Denver and other western points than was possible on the other trails. This not only expedited passenger traffic but it also made it possible for the better freighting outfits to make extra trips and to haul larger loads, The extra goods brought into the western country in this way made it possible to sustain a greater population and hastened the permanent settlement of the West.

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