Nebraska’s population grew rapidly after the Civil War, especially as the threat of attacks from Native Americans decreased. In 1860 the population had been less than 30,000; in 1890 it was close to 1 million. Union veterans of the Civil War constituted a large part of the new population, which also included immigrants from Germany, Sweden, and other countries of northern and central Europe. The two most important factors in the growth of population and in the settlement of the state were the railroads and the land policies of the federal government.
The Union Pacific Railroad, so closely associated with the organization of Nebraska Territory, was completed in 1869, with its eastern terminus at Omaha. The Burlington, the state’s second major railroad, began building west from the Missouri River at Plattsmouth in 1869, and by 1881 it had reached Benkelman, near the state’s southwest border. The federal government granted nearly 17 percent of Nebraska’s land to various railroad companies; the Union Pacific and Burlington received more than seven-eighths of the total amount. These two railroads advertised their lands in the eastern United States and sold them to settlers at low prices in order to promote population growth and agriculture, and thereby generate more traffic for the railroads. "Nebraska" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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