Oto and Pawnee Indians were early inhabitants in the area. Settlers were drawn in the 1850s by the salt flats located nearby. The site was named Lancaster (for the Pennsylvania city) by a salt company representative in 1856. It was soon determined that salt mining would not be feasible (the salt basin is now underwater). The site was chosen as the state capital in 1867 (the year of Nebraska statehood) because crossing the Platte River to reach the territorial capital of Omaha was difficult for those living south of the river (“South Platters”). Lincoln was officially founded that year. A legislator who opposed the capital’s move from Omaha named the new site for Pres. Abraham Lincoln in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the South Platters—many of whom had favoured the Confederacy in the American Civil War—to vote against the change of location.
Lincoln is a regional centre of government, commerce, finance, arts, education, and health care. It has extensive rail connections and an airport. Agricultural products include soybeans, corn (maize), sorghum, wheat, hogs, and poultry. Lincoln is a major grain market with milling, grain storage, meatpacking, and farm-equipment distribution businesses. Manufactures include industrial rubber products, motorcycles, watercraft, software, scientific instruments, wireless communication equipment, electrical products, construction materials, turf maintenance equipment, bricks, and pharmaceuticals. Of economic significance is Lincoln’s growth as an insurance centre, with dozens of firms having home offices there. Aviation services, communication technology, railroading, business services, medical research, and printing are also important. Government-operated institutions, including several correctional facilities, also contribute to the economy.
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