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Alma, Nebraska
Main Street
Main Street
Location of Alma within Harlan County and Nebraska
Location of Alma within Harlan County and Nebraska
Country United States
State Nebraska
County Harlan
 • Total 1.15 sq mi (2.98 km2)
 • Land 1.15 sq mi (2.98 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,975 ft (602 m)
 • Total 1,133
 • Estimate 
 • Density 992.17/sq mi (383.05/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 308
FIPS code 31-00975
GNIS feature ID 0826967

Alma is a city in Harlan County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 1,133 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Harlan County.


Alma was founded in the spring of 1871 by a group of Union Pacific railroad laborers originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Harlan County was created by the Nebraska Legislature on June 3, 1871, and Alma was made the county seat on July 3, 1871. A dispute among the original settlers led to a dissolution of the town, but it was re-organized in 1874.

Alma's status as county seat was challenged by residents of Orleans, but an 1884 Nebraska Supreme Court decision affirmed Alma's status as seat of Harlan County. Alma officially incorporated in July 1881. The town was named after a daughter of one of the early settlers.

On January 13, 1880, the Burlington Railroad reached Alma, providing a significant boost for local commerce and industry. In 1887, the Kansas City and Omaha Railroad also reached Alma. Telephone service reached Alma in June 1899. Electricity arrived with a steam power plant in 1906 and water service followed in 1907.

In 1935, major flooding of the nearby Republican River provided an impetus to build a dam on the river. The Army Corps of Engineers started construction of the Harlan County Dam on August 1, 1946, and completed work in November 1952. The lake thus created, Harlan County Reservoir, became one of Alma's top recreation destinations.

During World War II, Alma hosted a small number of captured German soldiers.


Alma is located at 40°6′3″N 99°21′45″W / 40.10083°N 99.36250°W / 40.10083; -99.36250 (40.100733, -99.362618). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.85 square miles (2.20 km2), all of it land.

Alma is located at the junction of US Route 136 and US Route 183. The community is at the northwest end of Harlan County Lake. The town is near the Harlan County Reservoir.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 298
1890 905 203.7%
1900 923 2.0%
1910 1,066 15.5%
1920 1,058 −0.8%
1930 1,235 16.7%
1940 1,272 3.0%
1950 1,768 39.0%
1960 1,342 −24.1%
1970 1,299 −3.2%
1980 1,369 5.4%
1990 1,226 −10.4%
2000 1,214 −1.0%
2010 1,133 −6.7%
2019 (est.) 1,141 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,133 people, 502 households, and 303 families living in the city. The population density was 1,332.9 inhabitants per square mile (514.6/km2). There were 597 housing units at an average density of 702.4 per square mile (271.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 99.1% White, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% from other races, and 0.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.6% of the population.

There were 502 households, of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.0% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.6% were non-families. 36.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 20.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age in the city was 49.6 years. 22.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 4.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.9% were from 25 to 44; 27.3% were from 45 to 64; and 28.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.


Major highways

  • US 136.svg U.S. Highway 136
  • US 183.svg U.S. Highway 183
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