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Nebraska City is the oldest incorporated city in Nebraska, and the county seat of Otoe County. The area was first explored by Europeans in 1804, when the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled west along the Missouri River. The region was settled sometime prior to 1846, when the U.S. Army constructed Old Fort Kearney there, although the fort was later relocated to the central part of the state, just south of Kearney. Around the time that the fort was abandoned, John Boulware started a river-crossing and ferry service from Iowa to Nebraska City, and business that was expanded in 1852. His ferry house was the first residence in Nebraska City. When the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act opened the area for legal settlement, Nebraska City was incorporated in 1855, and was in competition to become the Nebraska Territory capital and, in 1857, Nebraska City joined with South Nebraska City and Kearney City, enlarging its size greatly. Arbor Day was first established in Nebraska City, and the city is home to the Missouri River Basic Lewis and Clark Center, and the Mayhew Cabin, which was the only site in the state recognized as a station along the Underground Railroad. Pete Ricketts, the state’s 40th governor, was born in Nebraska City, as were several members of the Morton family, of Morton Salt fame.


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