Hazard, Nebraska - Origin of Our Town's Name

How Hazard received its name is a century old question. Specifics behind the town's name apparently lived and died with the original settlers in the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, questions regarding this were already raised. However, both early & current historians have given us helpful insights that have led to three explanations, all of which deserve a degree of merit. It is possible that any or all of the following were considerations in deciding the town's name. The first two accounts are very similar:

I. As Mrs. Alfred Reinertson wrote in a 1957 article: "It is believed that the village was named after a conversation when someone noticed that within the townsite there was a dangerous hole which may have been a washout or a pit dug by a falling meteorite. "Thatís a hazard," is the legendary comment. Perhaps that unique word for a title was just what was awaited. Thus the new town was named Hazard." Note: Some have suggested that the hole was near the downtown area.

II. As recorded by Mr. Edwin McCartney, a high school teacher and Sherman County historian: "Hazard, Nebraska is believed to have gotten its name as a result of a dangerous, swampy area along the tracks at that location. The soft road-bed caused trains to slow down, and mark their logs with the word "hazard" as a caution to other engineers who might be unfamiliar with the route."
Mrs. Reinertsonís son, Glenn Reinertson, also wrote on the history of Hazard. In his article from 1942, he states: "
The village, however, was without a name, and as two men were walking along the tracks and noticed a "hazardous hole," the name Hazard was accepted in designation of the group of buildings."

III. The third explanation says that a man known as "Mr. Hazzard" (who signed his name using only one "z") dug the first water well and the town was named after him. Residents from the early 1900s remember hearing of a Mr. Hazard though not much was known about him. The article to the right appeared in a newspaper published in the early 1980s.

Be it as it may, the earliest, most reliable documentation supports the accounts of a hole or washout near the tracks. Due to ground instability and the potential danger it posed to bypassing trains, this designated area became known as "a hazard." Most likely, this repeated reference became a permanent association and accepted as the town's name.

Hazard history | home
Hazard Home Page