The community of Elkhorn, Nebraska was platted and in existence in 1867 (pictured at right) when Nebraska became a state. In 1967, the Elkhorn Women's Club*, compiled the city's history to commemorate the town's centennial year. Their book, "1867-1967 Elkhorn, Nebraska, The First Century of Progress" can be found at the Bess Johnson Library in Elkhorn.
In 1995, an eight grade class headed by Carol Richart compiled a second book chronicling Elkhorn's development from 1967 through 1995. This book along with historical pictures of Elkhorn can also be found at the Bess Johnson Library. Currently, Carol Englemann's (firstname.lastname@example.org )class is working on a project to make many of these photos available on the internet.
In addition to this effort, the Elkhorn Historical Society has been formed to help preserve Elkhorn's history. This organization meets regularly at the Bess Johnson Library and is currently working on the preservation of the curtain that hung over the stage at the old Keiner Saloon. To learn more about this organization, contact Sharon Nelsen at email@example.com .
The land on which Elkhorn is located was pre-empted by William Janney, who along with his brother-in-law, George Crawford, built homes in 1865. When the Union Pacific Railroad completed its survey in 1866, it chose a route along the prairie slough on the west branch of Papillion Creek, then west across the Elkhorn River. The railroad purchased a 40-acre tract from Janney and called the site "Elkhorn Station."
The next ten years saw tremendous growth. Even before Crawford and H.O. Jones platted the town in 1867, there was a post office, livery stable, hotel, general store, saloon, blacksmith shop, and depot. At that time the town site was called "Chicago" for the precinct that bears that name. Confusion with Chicago, IL, caused the post office to change the name to "Douglas," which also caused problems. It was finally changed back to Elkhorn, and the town of Elkhorn City, just six miles north, was changed to "Elk City."
A school was started in the early 1850s southwest of town, long before Elkhorn was platted. When the combination school-community building was destroyed by fire in 1869, a one-room schoolhouse was built south of the tracks. A two-story school served the community from 1886 to 1930, at which time a K-12 brick building was erected in the northwest corner of town which now serves at the administration building. School enrollment has mushroomed in the last 20 years. Currently Elkhorn has three elementary buildings: Westridge, Hillrise, and Skyline. The junior-senior high school, built in 1966, is now the 6-8 middle school, and a new senior high was built in 1980 on the old Robert's Dairy Farm southeast of town. Recently, a fourth elementary school and second middle school were added near 180th and Pacific streets. For more information click on Elkhorn Public Schools .
A Catholic Church, established in 1868, built a new structure in 1982. A Methodist Society owned a building on Main Street until 1925 when it disbanded and the building was sold to the Lutherans. A new Lutheran Church was dedicated in 1955. A monastery for Benedictine monks, founded on the bluffs north of town in 1956, is now called Mount Michael Abbey and High School. A Baptist Church was built in 1982, and a new Methodist congregation was established in 1984.
The volunteer fire and rescue department has a long history. Started in 1891, it was not able to keep the entire west side of main street from burning in 1895. Fire hydrants and water pressure were installed by 1909, and later two tubular wells were drilled on Center Street. A new city hall, fire station, and library complex was dedicated in 1966. As the population grew, a larger firebarn was built on the north edge of town near the water tower in 1978.
The main factor for the growth of Elkhorn is, simply, LOCATION. The lay of the land was important when selecting the best place to cross the Elkhorn River. The community, with far-sighted leaders, such as Julius Schuldt, drew the attention of the Lincoln Highway Association, the first transcontinental road at its inception in 1913.
Elkhorn's image has changed from a small-town in a rural setting to that of a growing suburb of Nebraska's largest city, Omaha. In 1962 Winterburn Heights was the first addition on what was then the Northwest edge of town. Several others would follow including: Skyline Ranches, Chapel Hill, Hillrise, Fair Meadows,Greenbrier, Ramblewood, Antler Country, Arbor Ridge, and Indian Creek.
In the late 1990's the city of Elkhorn increased in size through a series of annexations and boosted its population to over 5000 and is now home to numerous businesses, churches, and organizations.
Elkhorn continues to be a progressive growing city. For current information, visit: www.Elkhorn.info
* "1867-1967 Elkhorn, Nebraska, The First Century of Progress," was compiled and produced by the Elkhorn Women's Club Centennial Book Committee. Much of the credit for this initial history of Elkhorn is due to the hard work of Mrs. Roy (Bess) Johnson, Mrs. William E. (Caroline) Holling, and Mrs. Elmer L. Peterson.
Additional information for this history was taken from information and photos obtained from: Patsy A. Schmidt, Leonard & Florence Peterson, Maxine Peterson Lenhart, Ella Deerson, and Lilly Koch Rolfs.
Contributions of additional photos, information, etc. concerning the history of Elkhorn can be made at theBess Johnson Library where a file is maintained.