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Kimball City

Kimball County, Nebraska

Kimball City Hall is located at 223 South Chestnut Street, Kimball, NE 69145.
Phone: 308.235.3639.

Beginnings [1]

The westward expansion of the United States by homesteaders, the railroads and free land were key factors contributing to the establishment of Kimball. The land occupied by Kimball was originally a portion of Cheyenne County. In 1867 the Union Pacific Railroad reached the site of present day Kimball and established a station called Antelope. A settlement called Antelope sprang up beside it. For many years the only activity in the area included railroad crews stopping for food and rest and activities of the Bay State Livestock Company. In 1877, the first post office was established and in 1881 the first school was started through the efforts of May Lynch, wife of section foreman for the railroad.

The Union Pacific Railroad began selling its land in 1884 opening the way for settlement. By the close of 1885, the town had a hotel, two professional offices, a newspaper, several retail shops and had been renamed Kimball. The name Kimball originated from Thomas L. Kimball, an official of the Union Pacific Railroad who later became vice-president and general manager of the railroad.

The 1862 Homestead Act allocated 160 acres of land to settlers who were required to work the land for specified period of time. The Kincaid Act, approved by Congress in 1904, allowed a claim of 640 acres of land which further encouraged settlers to locate in the arid Sandhills. Farming became the primary source of employment and improved dramatically with the development of irrigation. As agriculture prospered so also did the community. Notable landmarks of Kimball's early prosperity include the "old stone store," the Corer Bar building, built in 1894, and the Fraternal Hall, built in 1904. Both building are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. During this same time period, Kimball's first manufacturing plant began operations. The plant produced irrigation flumes designed to carry water across ravines. The flume was designed and patented by Kimball blacksmith Pat Maginnis.

In 1911, the Oliver Reservoir dam was built. Oliver Reservoir provided irrigation water to Lodgepole Valley farmers until 1976 when the dam became unsafe and the lake was drained. A massive local effort in combination with state funding allowed the dam to be rebuilt in 1979. The 280 acre lake was reconstructed as recreation, wildlife conservation and flood control facility.

Transportation has played a critical role in Kimball's development. Although rail passenger service was discontinued in 1971, the railroad continues to remain important to the area as shipping resource for the agricultural community. The Lincoln Memorial Highway, U.S. Highway #30, was constructed in the early 1900's. Interstate 80 was constructed in the area from 1969 to 1973 and became one of the heaviest traveled trucking routes in the western United States. In 1987 the Kimball Airport's a new primary runway was constructed and lengthened to accommodate large aircraft.

Kimball's economic history has experienced several boom & bust cycles. Early economic influences, such as the railroad and agriculture, were overshadowed by the discovery of oil in the 1950's. Kimball earned the title, "Oil Capitol of Nebraska," and the population more than doubled during the 1950's spurring a great deal of new development. Immediately following this boom came another distinction as, "Missile Center - USA." An Atlas missile site was constructed south of town in 1961 followed by a vast complex of Minuteman missile silo's in 1962. This construction effort resulted in additional employment and business growth.

In 1966, George Risk Industries, Inc. moved to Kimball from Columbus, Nebraska following the sale of $150,000 of its stock to Forward Kimball Industries, Inc. The company manufactures high-technology products, ranging from keyboards and switches to security systems. Additional industries attracted to Kimball include Accessory Sales, Inc. in 1967, Rite-A-Way Industries, Inc. in 1968, Poly-Pipe, Castronics, Inc., and Clean Harbors, a hazardous waste disposal plant. Although the substantial growth rates experienced during the 1950's and 1960's have not been able to be maintained, Kimball continues to serve the surrounding area as a retail, service and employment trade center.

  1. City of Kimball, Nebraska, Comprehensive Plan, 2002, www.kimballne.org, accessed August, 2015.