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City of Wood River


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Between 1844 and 1866 thousands of emigrants, gold seekers, and Mormons moved west through the Platte Valley. The first settlers along Wood River 1858-60 operated road ranches to serve travelers. They included Patrick, Richard, and Anthony Moore; James Jackson; and a Mormon, Joseph E. Johnson. In this immediate vicinity was Jackson’s store, opened about 1865, and Moore’s Ranche, Johnson’s Ranch, also known as Wood River Center, was at the present site of Shelton, Nebraska.

The original town of Wood River, named for the tree-lined river directly north, was platted around a station established here by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1866. Mr. Jackson moved his store to the settlement, and a log Catholic Church and settlers’ school were built by 1869.

In 1874-75 the Union Pacific platted the present town of Wood River about two miles east. Buildings were moved to the new location, including Jackson’s store. By 1990 only St. Mary’s Cemetery and the District 5 school marked the original townsite.

In the 1930s, Wood River was no longer an isolated community, joined to Grand Island and Kearney by the Lincoln Highway. The town prospered as Americans took to travel cross-country road trips.

Wood River continues to offer a variety of things to do in one’s spare time – there is always time to play! There’s golfing, swimming, museums, fishing, sporting events, or just joining in with a community organization,

There are plenty of opportunities for recreation and physical fitness in Wood River. The town is proud to have a newly paved three-quarter-mile walking trail around the High School grounds. Try the aquatic center to get some swim laps in, venture out to the town’s nine-hole golf course, or contact a local outfitter for hunting, fishing, or boating activities.

, Town of Wood River, NE
, Town of Wood River, NE

A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Wood River


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