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Falls City, Nebraska
Stone Street, looking north from 15th Street
Stone Street, looking north from 15th Street
Location within Richardson County and Nebraska
Location within Richardson County and Nebraska
Country United States
State Nebraska
County Richardson
 • Total 3.35 sq mi (8.67 km2)
 • Land 3.34 sq mi (8.66 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)
1,010 ft (308 m)
 • Total 4,325
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,231.53/sq mi (475.53/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 402
FIPS code 31-16655
GNIS feature ID 0829265

Falls City is a city and county seat of Richardson County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 4,325 at the 2010 census, down from 4,671 in 2000.


Falls City was founded in the summer of 1857 by James Lane, John Burbank, J.E. Burbank, and Isaac L. Hamby. The town is located on the north side of the Big Nemaha River, in the southeast corner of the state. The river in 1857 had banks and bed of rock and stone. The town was located near where the river flowed over a four-foot (1.3 m) rock ledge called the "Falls of Nemaha", for which the town was named. Over time the river has changed to the extent that the falls no longer exist.

The town was a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves during the struggles resulting from the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Early in the city's history, it won a prolonged process to become the county seat of Richardson County. The county originally selected Salem, Nebraska to be the county seat, but due to Salem's lack of a suitable building site, a new election was held which Falls City tied in the vote. Finally in a third election in 1860, Falls City was declared the permanent site of the county seat.

Falls City grew in the late 19th century due the arrival of the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad in 1871 and the Missouri Pacific in 1882, for which Falls City was designated as a division point in 1909. The population of the city peaked at 6,200 citizens in 1950.

In the summer of 1966, Braniff Airlines Flight 250 crashed near Falls City due to bad weather, killing all 42 on board. The BAC One-Eleven aircraft was on the Kansas City to Omaha leg of a multi-stop flight from New Orleans to Minneapolis on Saturday night, August 6.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.06 square miles (7.93 km2), of which, 3.05 square miles (7.90 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 607
1880 1,583 160.8%
1890 2,102 32.8%
1900 3,022 43.8%
1910 3,255 7.7%
1920 4,930 51.5%
1930 5,787 17.4%
1940 6,146 6.2%
1950 6,203 0.9%
1960 5,598 −9.8%
1970 5,444 −2.8%
1980 5,374 −1.3%
1990 4,769 −11.3%
2000 4,671 −2.1%
2010 4,325 −7.4%
2019 (est.) 4,117 −4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
2012 Estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,325 people, 1,931 households, and 1,127 families living in the city. The population density was 1,418.0 inhabitants per square mile (547.5/km2). There were 2,190 housing units at an average density of 718.0 per square mile (277.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.1% White, 0.3% African American, 3.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.

There were 1,931 households, of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.6% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.84.

The median age in the city was 44.4 years. 23.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.2% were from 25 to 44; 25.9% were from 45 to 64; and 23.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.7% male and 52.3% female.


Aerial View of Falls City High School, Falls City, Nebraska 9-2-2013
Falls City High School
Aerial View of Falls City, Nebraska 9-2-2013
Aerial view of Falls City

Falls City's public school system consists of two elementary schools, a junior high school, and Falls City High School. Sacred Heart School, a Catholic institution, offers K–12 education.

Notable people

  • Charlie Abbey, baseball player
  • David Abbot, magician and debunker
  • Jim Bethke, baseball player
  • Gil Dodds, American and world indoor record holder for the mile run in the 1940s, Sullivan Award recipient in 1943.
  • Elmer "Skip" Dundy, showman and promoter, helped create many world's fair attractions, Luna Park on Coney Island, and the New York Hippodrome
  • Pee Wee Erwin, jazz musician
  • John Philip Falter, illustrator, Saturday Evening Post
  • Lloyd Hahn, Olympic runner
  • Dave Heineman, 39th governor of Nebraska
  • Patricia McGerr, American crime writer
  • John H. Morehead, 17th governor of Nebraska
  • C. Frank Reavis, U.S. Representative for Nebraska
  • Arthur J. Weaver, 22nd governor of Nebraska
  • David Wiltse, mystery novelist & playwright
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