Grand Island History

May, 2017

You may not know this, but J-Tech Construction actually has two locations. We’ve written plenty about Lincoln, Nebraska but not so much about our other location. J-Tech Construction is also located in Grand Island, Nebraska. Grand Island has a rich history, that we find very interesting. From tornadoes to contaminated groundwater, we’ll delve into all there is to know about this grand place.

Grand Island

It all started in 1857, a very small number of German settlers left Iowa and traveled west. Their intention was to create a new settlement in Nebraska. Their destination? An island between Wood River and the Platte River known as La Grande Isle by French traders. Independence Day 1857 was extra special because that’s when the settlers first arrived. However, they had no time to relax as they needed shelter. In addition, they had to deal with severe weather like blizzards. Plus, they weren’t exactly on the best terms with the Native Americans. Over time, things began to get better with the arrival of the railroad. The town went from a meager 35 German settlers to a population of 1,057 in 1870.


Grand Island Tornados

The midwest is known for stormy weather, and more specifically the tornadoes. One date that many people remember in Grand Island is June 3rd, 1980. That’s because it was the night that seven tornadoes devastated the city. The Fujita Scale is used to distinguish the intensity of tornadoes, with 0 being the least destructive to 5 being the worst. On June 3rd the worst tornado was rated an F4, and 5 people were killed as a result. Since then, a book has been written by Ivy Ruckman called Night of the Twisters. Additionally, a movie was made based on the book, with some slight changes.

Water Issues

Grand Island was home to the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant until 1973 when it was put on standby. As a matter of fact, the plant produced bombs for various wars including WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. While these were being produced, all the waste was then buried. However, in 1981 it was discovered that the groundwater had been contaminated. Consequently, the Army extended the water lines to prevent further contamination to the citizens through well water. Even today, the levels of contaminants are still higher than what is acceptable.



Although Grand Island has seen ups and downs, today the city is thriving. It’s been the home of the Nebraska State Fair since 2010. Plus, when visiting Grand Island you can also go to the Stuhr Pioneer museum.

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