1871 - 1971
Gibbon, on the old Mormon Trail, was the site of a unique experiment in homestead colonization. Originally conceived as a financial venture by Colonel John Thorp of Ohio, the Soldier's Free Homestead Colony was responsible for bringing the first homesteaders to the region. Traveling by Union Pacific, which had reached this point in July 1866, the first group of colonists, representing 80 families, arrived in Gibbon on April 7, 1871.
Thorp had advertised for colonists, charging a membership fee of $2.00, with which they received reduced railroad rates to Gibbon, where it was expected that the Civil War Veterans would purchase railroad land and take homesteads, thus increasing the value of other nearby railroad lands.
When the first colonists arrived at Gibbon siding, named for Civil War General John Gibbon, the only building was a small section house, and, until sod or frame homes could be built, they lived in railroad box cars. Later arrivals increased the original colonists to 129 families from 15 states, all but a few being Union veterans.
The settlers' first view of the area was not encouraging as a prairie fire had recently swept over the region, leaving charred desolation in its wake. Two days after their arrival, a two-day blizzard struck the area. Gibbon is a tribute to the perseverance of these hardy pioneers.
Erected by Nebraska State Historical Society and Gibbon Lions Club. (Marker Number 115.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Nebraska State Historical Society marker series.
Location. 40° 42.405′ N, 98° 50.673′ W. Marker is near Gibbon, Nebraska, in Buffalo County. Touch for map. Marker is next to the Camper Registration building at Windmill State Recreation Area, off Lowell Road (Nebraska Route 10C), about 0.4 mile north of I-80 Exit 285. Marker is in this post office area: Gibbon NE 68840, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. D. E. "Mac" McGregor (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Gibbon (approx. 2.8 miles away); First Buffalo County Court House (approx. 2.8 miles away); Memorial Tree (approx. 2.8 miles away); The Soldiers Free Homestead Colony (approx. 2.9 miles away); Nebraska Centre - Boyd Ranche (approx. 2.9 miles away); The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad (approx. 7.2 miles away); Joseph E. Johnson and the Huntsmanís Echo (approx. 7.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gibbon.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. History of Gibbon, Nebraska. (Submitted on December 25, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Soldier's Free Homestead Colony of Gibbon NE. (Submitted on December 25, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Windmill State Recreation Area NE. (Submitted on December 25, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Environment • Railroads & Streetcars • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 24, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 301 times since then and 87 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 24, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.