Syracuse, Nebraska was originally located southeast of present-day Unadilla in 1856, where salt was discovered. The “Syracuse Town Company” was formed to get land and named for a great salt entity in Syracuse, New York. It was soon realized that salt mining was not successful. A “postal drop” changed locations in 1863 when it moved a hotel and livery barn to “Nursery Hill”. It was a link to the wagon trail going west, which is on the west edge of the present Syracuse location. It was platted in the late 1850’s, a school was established as settlers arrived. and in 1869, and with talk of a railroad coming, one pioneer gave 100 acres of land to the Midland Pacific Railway. A proper town was then laid out.
By 1871, with the railroad completed to Lincoln, that station was named “Syracuse”, a major shipping point and agricultural center in Otoe County. So, Nursery Hill’s businesses moved into the town which became incorporated in 1875. Otoe County had the largest German emigration population in all of Nebraska and the need for new businesses to support this settlement in the Syracuse area was great. It soon became the home of the Otoe County Fair and a horse track located on the southwest edge of town. Industries such as a wagon and carriage factory, a corn cob pipe factory, and an ice house were some of the original businesses established in Syracuse.
Today, Syracuse is a thriving, growing community of about 2000 people, showing a 10% increase since the 2010 US Census. We celebrate our German heritage every 2nd Saturday of July with a family-friendly GermanFest celebration, complete with “Viener Dog Races”, German dancing, Grand Parade, Market and a 2-block beer garden. The day is capped off with a concert under the stars with an “up-and-coming” Country-Western entertainer. You can also join us the first week of December to visit Santa, enjoy kids Christmas craft-making and watch the lighting of a 30’ Christmas tree at dusk, right in the middle of the main intersection of our downtown district.