Welcome to Bellevue, Nebraska
Bellevue began as a fur-trading post in 1822, established by the Missouri Fur Company to serve as a central trading point with the Omaha, Otoe and Pawnee Native American tribes.
In the 1850s, Bellevue transformed greatly. The First Presbyterian Church, a bank, hotel and homes were built. It was thought Bellevue would become the territorial capital, but Omaha was selected instead.
In the late 1880s, Bellevue College and Fort Crook revived the struggling town. It continued to grow slowly until Fort Crook became Offutt Air Force Base and the famed Martin Bomber Plant opened. In the 1940s and 1950s Bellevue’s population boomed to more than 20,000 people.
Today, the city has close to 50,000 people in incorporated Bellevue. Much of the growth of Bellevue in the last decade is thanks to civilian enterprise. Commercial growth and residential expansion is continuing at a rapid pace.
Bellevue is also in the process of creating a huge riverfront development project, complete with ballfields, park space and entertainment venues near Haworth Park along the Missouri River on the southeast edge of town.
It is also home to many trails, city pools and small parks for those who like to partake in outdoor activities, including Fontenelle Forest, which has more than 26 miles of trails through Oak Savanna, prairie and wetlands. The new Nature and History Trail at Haworth Park off Highway 370 near the Missouri River opened in 2007. Along the path are markers explaining some of Bellevue’s history.
Bellevue also is connected to the metro area through a series of paved trails via the Papio Creek system that is great for biking, walking and roller blading.
Of course, for those who like to hit the links, Bellevue offers several options for both the short and long hitters. Offutt Air Force Base has two courses and a trio of other well-groomed 18-hole tracks are open to the public.
During the spring, summer and early fall months, the public can take a dip at a city pool or stroll through one of the close to 20 parks in town, including Haworth, which is more than 155 acres, and home of Riverfest in July. The event is one of the largest parties in Nebraska, complete with an official barbecue competition, live music and fireworks.
Proud to be on the Lewis and Clark Trail, Bellevue commemorated the anniversary of the exploration with the unveiling of the Lewis and Clark Children’s Interpretive Art Wall in 2004. Standing 8 feet tall and 65 feet wide, the wall art depicts how more than 700 elementary-aged children from Illinois to Washington recounted through art the travels of Meriweather Lewis and William Clark. The wall is a permanent display at Haworth Park and open to the public year-round.
For a nominal fee, year-round camping is available on the banks of the Missouri River at Haworth Park. For added enjoyment, playgrounds, a tennis court and picnic shelters are available. Also nearby is the Bellevue Marina featuring nearly 200 slips available for rent.
Heralded as the “birthplace” of Nebraska, Bellevue’s historical offerings are first rate. Stop by the Sarpy County Historical Museum and ask about a tour that includes the state’s first bank, oldest church, a historical cemetery and many more sights. While you’re at the museum, enjoy the facility’s many displays including a miniature replica of Fort Crook.
One of Bellevue’s most unique attractions is Fontenelle Forest Nature Center. Featuring more than 1,400 acres of woods and wetlands, the forest is crisscrossed with 17 miles of walking trails. At the entrance to the forest, visitors will find the Katherine and Fred Buffet Forest Learning Center year-round exhibits.
The city’s uniqueness, storied past, along with its growth and vibrance, makes it one of Nebraska’s true gems.