Map 1: 1866 U.S. General Land Office Map of Kansas and Nebraska
Close Up of Southeast Nebraska
The lower map is a close-up of southeast Nebraska in 1866, before Nebraska became a state.
The towns of Omaha, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, and Brownville were founded shortly after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which opened Nebraska Territory to settlement. These towns were founded on the Missouri River, the eastern boundary of Nebraska Territory, and took advantage of the Missouri River for commerce. Omaha was the territorial capital. Soon, settlement moved west. A new location for the capital was proposed when Nebraska became a state in 1867. The new location would have to possess economic potential and a more central location.
1) Locate the city of Omaha, the Platte River, and the site for the future city of Lincoln on this map. Also locate Saunders, Butler, Seward, and Lancaster counties. The state legislature instructed the capital commissioners to choose a site for the new capital city from these counties. Why do you think those specific counties were chosen?
2) The new capital of Lincoln was established just east of "Gregory's Basin" in Lancaster County. Compare how far that area is from the well-established Nebraska cities of the day: Omaha, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, and Brownville. Do you think this area was a good place for the new capital? Is this where you would have located the capital? Why or why not?
Click for a larger version of Map 1b.