This region was first inhabited by prehistoric Indians. When French traders and trappers explored the river in the early 1700's, the Ioway Indians occupied this area. Later explorers, such as Lewis and Clark, also traveled the Missouri. White settlement began in the late 1850's when the Omaha and Ponca, the last Indian inhabitants of the area, sold their land. Ponca, the Dixon County seat, was located in 1856 along the Aowa Valley at the confluence of the South and Aowa Creeks. Hundreds of steamboats on the Missouri and a wagon road from the Platte River to Niobrara made the area accessible to settlement.
In 1934, Ponca State Park became part of the State park system. Ponca Legion Post 117 was instrumental in the community effort to donate the land to the state. The original 160 acre donation has grown to nearly 900 acres. The park's rugged terrain was formed by glacial action during the Pleistocene period. Today, this area provides a refuge of wooded hills, high river bluffs, and a commanding view of three states. Ponca State Park is operated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Ponca Commercial Club
Nebraska State Historical Society
In Ponca State Park