Skip Navigation

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

  • Virtual Nebraska Logo

Virtual Nebraska

Nebraska...Our Towns

Nora -- Nuckolls County

The name "Nora," chosen at random from a postal directory, became a station on the Rock Island Railroad in 1887. This is the C&NW depot at Nora, built the following year when the second line came through.
District 88 students in early 1900s before the high school was built.
Nora's Main Street ca. 1900s. Building on the left still stands.

The village of Nora is located near the center of Nuckolls County. The first mail was brought by wagon to the post office at the Whiting farm, two and one-half miles south of the present-day location, on May 14, 1878. It is said that Mr. Whiting chose "Nora" from a postal directory, for a town by that name in Illinois.

The Rock Island Railroad established a line through the area in 1887. The next year, the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad also came through Nora. Both lines have been discontinued and the rails removed.

C.F. Wilson and Jacob Ritterbush laid out the town in May 1887. The first store had groceries, some medical supplies, and served as the post office. Soon other businesses were established -- an elevator, a blacksmith, a livery stable, a mercantile store, and a hotel.

A fire in 1895 and others in 1913 and 1918 destroyed several buildings -- a doctor's office, a church, the pool hall, and a meat market. With no real protection, once buildings were ablaze, there was not much anyone could do.

The Nora State Bank was organized in 1907. With business good and everything going well, a new brick building was built in 1925. Ten years later, after the stock market crash and several years of drought, the bank was forced to close its doors. The building served as the post office until it merged with Nelson several years ago.

Even though it was still quite small, Nora incorporated in 1918 and improvements immediately began. Sidewalks were added, streets were graded, and crossings were provided. Electricity came in 1920. This brought in more business. Soon there was a telephone office, a barber shop, a cream station, a new post office, several garages, a lumberyard, a hardware store, and several grocery stores. A town hall was also built.

Before the Methodist Church was built in 1882, the members of the congregation met in homes. The first church burned in 1918 at which time a brick structure was erected. Fire damaged this church in 1943, but it was restored and continues to serve the community. In addition to holding regular services, the church serves as a meeting place for community activities, the school Christmas program, and other gatherings. There was also a Christian Church, built in 1901. Its members united with the church in Nelson in 1944.

A school (District 88) was organized in 1898. In 1911 several districts merged and a new schoolhouse was built, which included classes for 9-10. Grades 11-12 were added in 1917. The last high school class graduated during the war years of 1943. The building, with some remodeling and modernization, is still in use as a two-teacher system for our K-6 students.

Hard times and declining population have taken a big toll. It is said that at one time Nora had a population of over 300, but the official cound records only a high of 130. The last census lists a total of 27 residents.

Nora was the scene of many rodeos. In 1967, during the state's centennial celebration, large crowds again came from great distances to enjoy the sport. It became an annual affair. In 1970 a dirt track was added -- called "Nora Raceways."

The primary economic base of the community is agriculture. The only business now remaining in Nora is the Farmers' Union Co-op. It is a thriving elevator with a gas station and a few convenience items, which serves farmers from a large area.

Nora doesn't hustle and bustle as it once did, but it is still an active and friendly community that we proudly call "our town."

By Melba Lynch, Rte 1 Box 111, Nora, NE 68961.


ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: The Wonderful Years , a history of Nuckolls County, 1871-1971, Nuckolls County Centennial, Inc.; and From 'Hoppers to 'Copters , a Nuckolls County centennial edition.