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Central City, the county seat of Merrick County, Nebraska, was established near Platte River, along the Mormon Trail, and later the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail, in the mid 19th century. As the first pioneers passed through the area, they could see a huge cottonwood tree, which became known as Lone Tree, and became a landmark. In 1858, the Nebraska Territorial Legislature established Merrick County, referring to a yet to be established count seat as Elvira, to be located under Lone Tree. The actual county seat was not established until 1866, and it was named Lone Tree, rather than Elvira. The first courthouse was built in 1871. In 1875, the town’s name was changed from Lone Tree to Central City, as it was felt that the name Lone Tree gave the impression that the area was desolate. Central City is northeast of Grand Island, east of St. Paul, south of Fullerton, southwest of Silver Creek, west of Osceola, and north of Aurora and Marquette.

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