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Wahoo, Nebraska

Wahoo, Nebraska

August 15, 2021

A charming town.

Wahoo (/ˈwɑːˌhu/; from Dakota wǧhu;"arrow wood") is a city and county seat of Saunders County, Nebraska. The population was 4,508 at the 2010 census.

Wahoo, Nebraska. Its motto is "Welcome You.”


Wahoo was founded in 1870. The town's name comes from the eastern wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus), a shrub found on the banks of Wahoo Creek. The town was originally built up chiefly by predominantly Czech, German, and Scandinavian settlers.


2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 4,508 people, 1,801 households, and 1,131 families living in the city. The population density was 1,701.1 inhabitants per square mile. There were 1,962 housing units at an average density of 740.4 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 94.5% White, 0.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 1.4% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.5%.

Of the 1,801 households 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.8% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.2% were non-families. 33.3% of households were one person and 16.2% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.08.

The median age was 38.7 years. 26.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.4% were from 25 to 44; 25.3% were from 45 to 64; and 17.2% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.5% male and 50.5% female.

Cultural references

Beginning in February 1996, the city was denoted the location of the "home office" that produces the top-10 list for David Letterman's Late Show program, having relocated from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The town had lobbied Letterman for the status for months. It had the Nebraska legislature proclaim him an admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska, as well as inundate Letterman with letters, postcards, and bribes of flowers, clothing, animals, alcoholic beverages, shredded money, and free checkups at the Wahoo Medical Center. When Letterman jokingly said he wanted more, Wahoo sent him a '76 Ford Pinto with a sofa attached to the hood, a wall clock made of cow droppings, and two of the town's teenagers, brothers Jeff and Josh Price. This brought some degree of fame and tourism to the town. The nightly recap of the show on the CBS web site is titled The Wahoo Gazette.

Notable people

Shuko Akune, actress

Clarence William Anderson, author and illustrator of children's books, most notably the Billy and Blaze series

George Beadle, geneticist and Nobel Prizelaureate

Sam Crawford, Hall of Fame baseball player with the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers. Nicknamed “Wahoo Sam.”

Howard Hanson, Pulitzer Prize–winning composer, conductor, author, and educator

Dave Heineman, the 39th Governor of the State of Nebraska, grew up partly in Wahoo, among other Nebraska towns

Zach Miller, professional American football player

Jack Natteford, Hollywood screenwriter

Tillie Olsen, writer

Fannie Quigley, pioneer and prospector

Darryl F. Zanuck, Academy Award-winning producer, writer, actor, director, studio executive, co-founder of 20th Century Films

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