rollover image

Papio circa 1909. Mouseover to see current version.

For a thousand years, several Native American nations inhabited a broad valley of luxurious grasses and wildflowers near the Platte and Missouri rivers. The Oto tribe called the region "Flat Water." [1]

In 1682, European explorers and fur traders began to penetrate the native lands. [2] [3] Legend has it that one sunny day in the early 1700s, a group of French-speaking trappers roaming this area in the early 1700s were following a large creek westward from its mouth at the Missouri River. Their wanderings eventually discovered the wide valley, rich with plains grasses and flowers, the air filled with thousands of butterflies. Thus, the exploring party named the valley and the creek that ran through it "Papillon"— the French word for butterfly. [4] [5]

In 1804, the Lewis & Clark expedition camped near the "Papillion or Butter Fly Creek", and recorded it as being "eighteen yards wide." [6] [7]

In 1851, a traveling Swiss artist named Rudolph Frederick Kurz made a number of sketches of a tribe of Omaha Indians at their village above Papillion Creek. The Omaha called the site "Hill–Rising–From–A–Plain" until they were "removed" in 1855. [8]

Over the next decade, dozens of families arrived to build homes near the hill rising from a plain. In 1869 the new Union Pacific railroad consented to "put down a side track and erect a suitable station house at the summit" of the settlement. The little town built a depot, and was given the name "Papillion." [9]

As the town grew over the next 140 years, residents nicknamed it "Papio". That makes me Papio Tom.

Each year, Bloomberg Businessweek magazine selects one community from each state for its list of the best communities in which to raise kids. Representing Nebraska in 2013, Papillion topped the list. [10]

In 2007, Money magazine (then afilliated with CNN and now a subsidiary of Time Warner) named Papillion the sixth–best place to live in America. [11] In 2009 it was number three. [12] Over the next four years, it dropped to eighth. [13] [14] But in 2015, Papillion was back up to the number two Best Place to Live in America, losing only to Apex, North Carolina. [15]

In 2012, the website rated Papillion number one in the entire United States, as the Best Place to Live and Visit. [16] [17] And in 2017, the website Niche named it the best place to live in Nebraska. [18]