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The Great Platte Valley

Gretna, Nebraska; Sarpy County

Welcome to the Platte Valley, a historic route to the West. Nearby bluffs were once home to some of Nebraska’s first residents, Native Americans, including the Pawnee and Oto nations who built large earthlodge villages in the area. As you journey westward, you’ll follow the footsteps of native Nebraskans, white explorers, and pioneers who traveled early trails to the western United States. In 1820, Major Stephen Long led an exploring party through the Platte Valley to the Rocky Mountains, followed by General William Ashley’s expedition in 1826. By 1830, the valley became the primary supply route for fur traders in the Rocky Mountains. Later on, in 1847, the Mormons followed a trail along the north side of the Platte on their way to Utah, while the Oregon Trail reached the Platte 150 miles west of here and followed the south side of the river. By the late 1850s, it was estimated that 90% of all traffic crossing the Plains followed the Platte. The famous Pony Express and the first transcontinental telegraph line also journeyed through the Platte Valley. The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 and followed the valley, leading to permanent settlement of the land along the river.








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