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Nebraska Counties

There is ninety-three counties in state of Nebraska. Despite the fact that Sarpy County contained the oldest settlement in the state, it was one of the last lands along the river to be recognized by law. Finally, on February 1, 1857, the land "where the cities meet the country" was officially created.

Washington County, Nebraska

Washington County Education, Geography, and HistoryWashington County, Nebraska Courthouse

Washington County is a county located in the state of Nebraska. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 20,234. Its county seat is Blair.

Washington County is included in the Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metropolitan Statistical Area

Etymology - Origin of Washington County Name

Washington County's first boundaries were established by the Territorial Legislature on Feb. 22, 1855, the anniversary of President George Washington's birth. Thus, the county was named in his honor.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Washington County History

Like many of those counties bordering the Missouri River, Washington County's history dates back to the early 19th century. On Aug. 3, 1804, Merriwether Lewis and William Clark held council with six Indian chiefs on the western banks of the Missouri River. The site became known as "Council Bluffs." At the suggestion of Lewis and Clark, this same site later became Fort Atkinson in 1819.

Fort Atkinson, the first Union military post in Nebraska, was intended to bring peace with the Indians and discourage British encroachment on fur trading with Canada. It was once the largest military post of its day, as troops stationed there numbered over 1,100. The fort served the Midwest until 1827, when it was abandoned. Eventually the community of Fort Calhoun was established on the site.

Washington County's first boundaries were established by the Territorial Legislature on Feb. 22, 1855, the anniversary of President George Washington's birth. Thus, the county was named in his honor. Fort Calhoun was selected as the county seat. When the boundaries were redefined three years later, the county seat was moved to DeSoto. In 1869, by a popular vote, Blair was selected as the county seat. The present courthouse was completed 20 years later at a cost of about $50,000. Several additions have been made to the courthouse over the years.

Washington County was originally slated to be the home of Nebraska's State Capitol. In 1855 the town of Fontanelle, located in the western section of the county and named after Omaha Indian Chief Logan Fontanelle, was platted expressly for this purpose. It also was the first home of Nebraska University. Plans for both eventually stalled and both facilities ended up being built in Lincoln.

Just as it does today, farming played a key role in the early years. The Mormons farmed in the south part of the area in 1847 and 1848 to supply food for their brethren who were traveling to Utah. It was reported that soldiers stationed at Fort Atkinson once grew 20,000 bushel of corn.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 393 square miles (1,020 km2), of which 390 square miles (1,000 km2) is land and 3.2 square miles (8.3 km2) (0.8%) is water.

It is the fifth-smallest county in Nebraska by area.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Burt County - north
  • Harrison County, Iowa - northeast
  • Pottawattamie County, Iowa - southeast
  • Douglas County - south
  • Dodge County - west


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