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Village of Steele City

Steele City Village Hall is located at 204 West Main Street, Steele City, NE 68440; phone: 402-587-2450.

Downtown Steele City (Ida Street), Jefferson County, NE

Photo: Downtown Steele City (Ida Street), Jefferson County, NE. Photographed by User:Ammodramus (own work), 2013, [cc-by-1.0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed October, 2015.

Steele City is situated on a picturesque site in the heavily wooded valley of the Little Blue River which runs diagonally through Jefferson County.

Steele City [1] was platted in 1873, six years after Nebraska became a State, by Abner Baker and Robert Crinklow. The town was named in honor of D. H. Steele, President at the time, of the St. Joe & Western Railway. This railroad line ran through the town and stimulated the towns gradual growth into one of the best business centers and largest shipping stations along the St. Joe & Western lines. In 1879 Steele City was organized as a village under Nebraska Statute provisions.

The establishment of Steele City [2] resulted from the demise of two neighboring communities. First, in 1869, a flood swept through Freeport, located on the west bank of the river. Second, the future growth of the village of Jenkins' Mill was hampered by its location between the river and a rise in the landscape. Although the area post office went through three name changes, including Jenkin's Mill and Steelburg, in 1896 it finally reflected its current name of Steele City. In 1890, Steele City reported its peak census figure at 380. During this decade, thirty-five retail and service businesses sustained the population.

In 1873, present-day Steele City was surveyed and established, one year after the St. Joseph and Denver City Railroad came through town. The Nebraska Land and Town Company named the community after the president of the railroad, Dudley M. Steele. Shortly after its formation, the community offered a variety of stores and services, as well as a pottery business, cheese factory, and lime kiln.

In 1880, Steele City was a burgeoning community. Based upon an account by reporters from The Fairbury Gazette "...we made a trip to Steele City and found the 'boom' had struck that promising town in earnest. A large number of buildings have been erected during the winter and are in progress of construction and the town presents a lively and wide awake appearance."

  1. Persijs Kolberg, Curator of Historic Sites, Nebraska State Historical Society, Steele City Historic District, Jefferson County, NE, 1972, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
  2. Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center for Nebraska State Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office, Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey: Reconnaissance Survey Final Report of Jefferson County, Nebraska, 1997, www.nebraska.org, accessed October, 2015.
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