History of Wood River


A number of years ago, the Wood River Valley Historical Society (Wood River – Shelton – Gibbon)
developed the following map and placed roadside markers out to chronical significant historical events
in the area. Take some time to drive this route with the electronic map handy to learn more about
fascinating area history!

Wood River Valley Map (printer friendly)
Wood River Valley Map Printer Friendly

Wood River Valley Brochure 

unknown title




Between 1844 and 1866 thousands of emigrants, gold seekers, and Mormons moved west through the Platte Valley. The first settlers along Wood River 1858-60 operated road ranches to serve travelers. They included Patrick, Richard, and Anthony Moore; James Jackson; and a Mormon, Joseph E. Johnson. In this immediate vicinity was Jackson’s store, opened about 1865, and Moore’s Ranche, Johnson’s Ranche, also known as Wood River Center, was at the present site of Shelton, Nebraska

The original town of Wood River, named for the tree-lined river directly north, was platted around a station established here by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1866. Jackson moved his store to the settlement, and a log Catholic Church and settlers’ school were built by 1869.

In 1874-75 the Union Pacific platted the present town of Wood River about three miles east. The station, post office, and Jackson’s store were placed on skids and moved to the new location. In 1990 only St. Mary’s Cemetery and the District 5 school marked the original townsite.

Hall County Historical Society. Nebraska State Historical Society.

The marker is located 4 miles east of Wood River, Nebraska on highway 30.