Heat Wave

August 1909 brought a severe heat wave to Omaha. Daily life became a struggle to keep cool. “Every shady nook was sought and the parks and resorts at the lakes were deluged with sweltering people,” reported the Omaha Daily News of August 16. “Many took to the street cars to get a breeze and quite a number rode back and forth over the lines for hours.

“Sunday evening those who were wont to sit on the porch dragged their chairs down onto the lawns amid the mosquitoes in a fruitless effort to be near-comfortable. Coatless and collarless men walked the streets-when they had to walk-and women remained at home. . . . Lake Manawa and Seymour lake were havens for the oppressed citizens and both resorts report the largest attendance of the season. Hanscom park and the other parks, including the High school grounds, were spotted with people all day and evening. Many men, who were unable to sleep indoors Sunday night, sought the lawns in their yards, while men in the cheap boarding houses and hotels downtown hied themselves to Jefferson park for a snooze on the benches or grass.”

Babies, the aged, and the sick were hit especially hard by the heat. Cooks and laundry workers left their jobs. Horses collapsed. The Omaha city veterinarian advised: “If your horse becomes prostrated with the heat, get the animal in the shade as quickly as possible. Turn a hose on the animal. Hold ice to his head and other parts of his body.” Many liverymen refused to rent teams until after 5 p.m. so that the animals would not be active during the heat of the day.


Livery Feed and Sale Stable

The greatest need seemed to be for ice. But the heat that drove up demand also melted the ice rapidly on its way to customers. The coolest spot in the city, reported the Daily News, was the storage room of the People’s Ice and Cold Storage Company at Thirteenth and Chicago streets. “Down in the storage room the big lead pipes are covered with half an inch of frost. The mercury stands at 30 degrees above zero and every workman in the building on every possible excuse goes into the room, the proprietors say.” Other refuges of heat sufferers included the cooling rooms of Omaha’s breweries, where the temperature was kept at thirty-two degrees above zero.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.