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Fairbury is a city and county seat of Jefferson County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 3,942 at the 2010 census.Fairbury has been closely connected with railroading for much of its history. It was founded on the projected route of a railway, and grew as a shipping center. For nearly 80 years, it was the location of the Western Division headquarters of the Rock Island Railroad. Fairbury prospered with the Rock Island, and lost business and residents as the railroad declined.History19th centuryIn 1868, James B. Mattingly, a freighter originally from Kentucky, established a sawmill on the banks of the Little Blue River. Shortly thereafter, Woodford G. McDowell, a capitalist from Fairbury, Illinois, came to Nebraska to plat a town along the route of the St. Joseph and Denver City Railroad, which was to follow the Little Blue. In 1869, Mattingly and McDowell each contributed for a new townsite, which they named after McDowell's hometown.The new town grew rapidly, even before the railroad's arrival. In 1870, a population of 370 was reported; in that year, the Fairbury Gazette was established. A year later, Fairbury was chosen as the county seat; in early 1872, the city was incorporated. By this time, its businesses included three hotels and five blacksmith shops.In 1872, the St. Joseph and Denver City reached Jefferson County. (The railroad was subsequently acquired by the Union Pacific and operated as the St. Joseph and Grand Island branch.) Fairbury became a shipping center: in the first half of 1873, it shipped 255 cars of grain and received 143 of lumber. By 1874, there were 600 residents; 44 businesses operated in the city.Take a peek at our custom trip planner: Fairbury and its charms laid bare and easily scheduled.
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