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Omaha, Nebraska: History Main article: History of Omaha, Nebraska See also: Timeline of Omaha history and Timeline of Council Bluffs history Omaha was founded on July 4, 1854 by speculators from neighboring Council Bluffs. The city was founded along the Missouri River; it was chosen as the county seat when Douglas County (of which Omaha is located) was created in 1856. The location for a railroad bridge across the river into Iowa had been selected before settlement began due to its centrality and site near where a large number of pioneers were crossing at that time. By 1860, Omaha's population had grown to 2200 residents. In 1861 during the American Civil War an estimated 1500 Union Army soldiers under General John A Logan occupied Downtown Omahawhile Confederate Soldiers camped nearby on Haines Island making their presence known with cannon fire aimed at Downtown buildings causing damage but no casualties or deaths reported..