In central Nebraska where vast numbers of buffalo once roamed, is now an area called Buffalo County. Here Fort Kearny was established in 1848 to protect early travelers along the Oregon Trail and other trails that followed the Platte River.
A large area of central Nebraska was created as Buffalo County in 1855. From it, Dawson County was formed in 1860, Franklin County in 1867, and Sherman County in 1871.
Even before the railroad came through, there were settlements in the Platte Valley. The first post office was opened in 1859 at Nebraska Centre, about 1 miles west of present Gibbon. Nebraska Centre was named the first county seat of Buffalo County when it was created in 1855, but there is no record of any county activity taking place there.
In 1860, the second post office was opened at Wood River center, an early Mormon settlement established by Joseph E Johnson. There he maintained a large outfitting store, hotel, bakery, newspaper office, blacksmith shop and post office for the emigrants on the trails. After three years he and his family moved on to Utah.
In 1866, when the Union Pacific Railroad was completed through the county along the Platte River, post offices were established along its route. The first of these was at Kearny Station, near present Buda, in 1868. Although a busy railroad station carrying passengers to and from Fort Kearny, it did not develop into a community center and the post office was closed in 1869.
Railroad companies received sections of land in a checker board pattern from the government for building a railroad through the West. The other part of the checkerboard was free homestead land. One village that got its start by an enterprising land agent getting a contract with the railroad to start a town was GIBBON. Settlers arrived for free homestead land and cheap railroad land in 1871.
When the Burlington - Missouri RR met the Union Pacific, the resulting crossing was named Kearney Junction. A town was platted and was incorporated as KEARNEY in 1873.
Union Pacific made a siding for water and wood at a creek in western Buffalo County. First called Elm Creek Siding, then Elm Creek Station, it is now ELM CREEK.
In 1869, the Burlington Railroad advertised in the east for settlers to come to Buffalo County for low priced railroad land. Many came for the land and as the railroad came in, RAVENNA sprang up, incorporated in 1886.
The Wood River valley was chosen for settlement by many early comers and several villages sprang up along the river. In about 1872 "Huntsville" had a school and postoffice. The post office moved a mile or two west and became "Stanley." When the railroad going north up the river valley did not reach Stanley, the citizens moved their homes and businesses to the new town of AMHERST.
Armada in the Wood River valley near the west edge of the county was settled in 1873, and became known as "Gem City." In 1890 the railroad was built on the other side of the river so Armada built a bridge and moved across the river, changing the name to MILLER, for the man who helped bring the railroad through.
PLEASANTON was located in 1890 on the end of the Union Pacific branch railroad that went up the South Loup River valley.
See also Towns for more information about early post offices in Buffalo County and Our Towns, a site featuring articles from Jane Graff's book.