Alan J. Bartels

In 1804, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored the area that would become Cedar County. The Nebraska Territorial Legislature defined the boundaries of Cedar County, named for valleys filled with cedar trees, in 1857. Located in northeast Nebraska, the Missouri River forms the northern border of this largely agricultural area.

There have been three county seats in the history of Cedar County. The first was at St. James. In 1861 the county seat moved to St. Helena and remained there until 1885 when it moved to Hartington. Construction of the courthouse began that same year, and the structure completed in 1891 still stands today.

The rolling hills of the county are home to many species of wildlife, and nearby Gavins Point Dam is a magnet for anglers, nature enthusiasts and recreational boaters. Area history includes the 1863 Wiseman Massacre, Devil’s Nest, the Skylon Ballroom, and one of the oldest Catholic churches in Nebraska. The Cedar County Historical Museum in Hartington hosts horse plowing demonstrations in May, and the Prairie Village, Sports Wall of Fame and Scattergood Hostel help preserve county history.

Learn more about Cedar County by visiting or calling (402) 254-3266.