Omadi, located on the Missouri River at the mouth of Omaha Creek in Dakota County, was one of Nebraska’s early ghost towns. It was started in 1856, just two years after the organization of Nebraska Territory. On December 31, 1857, it was incorporated by the territorial legislature.
Like almost all of the early river towns, Omadi hoped to become the queen city of the West. For a time it looked as though those hopes might be realized. The first lumberyard on the upper Missouri was established there, and steamers from St. Louis regularly unloaded cargo at the town’s docks. A schoolhouse and two sawmills, one powered by steam, were erected. The first newspaper in Dakota County, the Omadi Enterprise, edited by George Rust, was established in 1857 and published until 1858. A post office was established June 8, 1857. Plans were in progress for making Omadi the seat of Dakota County.
A contemporary description of the town appeared in the Dakota City Herald of February 4, 1860. The editor visited Omadi and recorded his impressions at considerable length: “Omadi,” he wrote, “is situated on the bank of the Missouri and is a rather handsome location. . . . The town has about forty houses, nearly all of which are nice frame ones. Some of them are unoccupied as the former owners and occupants rushed frantically and furiously to Pikes Peak last spring and there became rich not very fast. . . . Several thousand brick are piled up carefully for future use. . . . A good store, store houses, and warehouse adorn the central portion of the town.”
The population of Omadi in 1857 was about four hundred. In 1858 the waters of the Missouri began to wash away its left bank and undermine the site, so that in order to save the buildings, it was necessary to move them. The inhabitants of Omadi began to scatter, with some moving to farms, others to Dakota City, and still others leaving the state. The U.S. census of 1860 indicated that the population of Omadi had dropped to forty-six. By 1865 every house was gone, and the river had completely covered the site. Nearby Logan (a rival of Omadi in 1857 and 1858, with about twenty-five houses and several businesses) has also vanished beneath the waters of the Missouri River.