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The World's Fair and Exposition
Information and Reference Guide

1898 Trans-Mississippi and
International Exposition and Indian Congress




  • 230 facts and trivia nuggets plus 25 links to external resources.

  • The World's Fair and Exposition Information and Reference Guide is now on CD.
    11,216 facts and 1,362 web links covering 24 World's Fairs and Expositions.
    Further information can be found here.

  • To Convert Dollar Amounts to the Year 2003: divide the amount by .047

  • Links to hundreds of images are in the Resources, Sources, Links section.



The following categories are on CD
more Statistics (15) High Resolution Images (5)
Dairy and Poultry Products (15) more Facts and Trivia (16)
More US Government Building (32) Power Plant
(Power House Building) (9)
State Appropriations (20) Miscellaneous Buildings
- Sizes and Costs (32)
Half Dollar (8) Commemorative Stamps (10)
Bonus: Timeline 1898 (46)






  • Title: Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition and Indian Congress.

  • Theme: To Promote Economic Development from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast.

  • Category: International Exhibition.

  • Location: Pinkney-Pratt Streets, 16th to 24th Street (Kountze Park); Omaha, Nebraska.

  • Exposition President: Gordon Wattles.

  • Dates: June 1 - October 31, 1898.

  • Area: 108 acres.

  • Master Architects: C Howard Walker and Thomas R Kimball.

  • Building Architecture: Classical, Renaissance Revival.

  • Building and Structure Costs: $1,053,064.34.

  • Total Cost: $1,181,567.25 (calculated).

  • Net Revenue: $84,102.42 (estimated on October 28th, 1898).

  • Actual Net Revenue: $215,812.62 (Secretary's Report).

  • Admission: 50 cents.

  • Paid Admissions: 1,778,250.

  • Free Admissions: 835,258.

  • Total Admission Receipts: $801,515.47.

  • Opening Day: 27,998 visitors.

  • Total Visitors: 2,613,508.

  • Busiest Month: October (35% of total admissions).

  • Busiest Day: October 12th (President's Day). 98,845 visitors.

  • Least Visited Day: June 3rd. 4,756 visitors.

  • Least Visited Month: July.

  • Hours: 8:00 AM - ??? PM.

  • Daily Admission: 50.

  • Participating States/Territories (24-40): Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington DC, Washington State, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Numerous reports indicate that either 24, 31 or 40 States participated. I found references to 31 States and the District of Columbia.

  • Participating Nations (10): Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland.

  • Exhibitors: listing not found.

  • Exhibits: 4,062.

  • Main Buildings: 47.

  • Total Buildings: 110.

  • Busiest Day: April 29th (Mardi Gras Week) , 36,000 visitors.

  • Estimated Daily Operating Cost: $2,000 per day.

  • Electrical Department: $63,282.85.

  • Lighting: 15,000 - 8 candle power incandescent lamps, 400 arc lamps.

  • Machinery and Electric Costs: $119,273.81.

  • Power: 2000 horsepower.

  • DC Motors: 300 Horse Power.

  • Fire Apparatus: $5,341.01.

  • Fire Calls: 25.

  • Fire Insurance Losses: $3,090.00.

  • Hospital Cases: 3,000.

  • Average Patients Per Day: 20.

  • Hospital Operating Cost: $4,075.13.

  • Most Hospital Related Complaints: Enteritis, Exhaustion, Wounds, Malaria, La Grippe, Sprains.

  • Exposition Guard Commandant: CE Llewellyn.

  • Exposition Guards: 304 (237 on duty at one time).

  • Police Guards: $53,667.57.

  • Misdemeanor Arrests: 239.

  • Awards President: Gurdon W Wattles.

  • Commemorative Medals and Diplomas: 464.

  • Total Medals and Diplomas Awarded: 2,580.

  • Award Winners Included: Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour, Baker Cocoa Butter, Bartlett Pears, Belfast Ginger Ale, Blue Ribbon Beer, Bonanza Apple Parer, Calumet, Corliss Engine, Diamond Dyes, Diamond Soap, Eagle Gin, El Buen Tono Cigarettes, Eureka Lemons, 
    Excelsior Shoes, Farrell Fire Extinguishers, Fisher Typewriter, Florsheim Shoes, Gramophone Talking Machine, Hinnman Improved Milk Can, Indiana Farm Wagon, Ingram Clocks, Jackson Farm Wagons, Keystone Watchcases, Kimball Pianos, Kingman Plows, Kuehl Cuckoo Clock, Larkin's Soap, Lipton Ceylon and India Tea, Martin Mechanical Toys, Manson Bicycles, Mickle Printing Press, Minnesota Flour, Moline Wagon, Moeller Pipe Organ, Molaronin Brothers Majolica Vases, Nutting Trucks, Olds Gasoline Engine, Otto Gas Engine, Perfecto Pipes, Photo-Colortype, Pope Chainless Bicycles, Remington Arms, Ross & Brothers Jamaica Rum, Self Lifting Elevator, Sharples Cream Separator, Stanley Rule & Level, Star Paper Cutter, Star Tobacco, Starrett Tools, Stetson Hats, Studebaker Carriages, Swift & Company Meats, Translucent Fabrics, Val Blatz Beer, Waterman Fountain Pens, White Sewing Machine, Winchester Repeating Arms, Worcester Corsets..

  • Bureaus (12): Agriculture, Horticulture, Forestry and Irrigation; Bee Industries; Diary Products; Education; Fine Arts; Liberal Arts; Live Stock; Machinery and Electricity; Manufactures and International Exhibits; Mines and Mining; Poultry; Transportation and Agricultural Implements.

  • Concessions Superintendent: SB Wadley.

  • Concessions: 245 (generating $276,112 in revenue).

  • Official Photographer: FA Rinehart.

  • Official Pyrotechnics: AL Due Fire Works Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Cost of Fireworks: $12,000.

  • Official Guidebooks: 25.

  • Conversion: every  $1 (1884)  = $21.27 (2003).

  • Employees: 745.

  • Also known as the White City.

  • The 1893 Columbian Exposition was also known as the White City

  • Charge for space: 50 a square foot (wall space), 50 a square foot (floor space). Prime Space (corners, aisle ways, etc) 25% more.


Facts and Trivia



  • The First proposed site for the Exposition was Council Bluffs, Iowa.

  • Miller Park was unanimously selected but rejected because it was over 4 miles from the center of the city.

  • Other sites considered: Elmwood, Hanscom, Miller and Riverview Parks.

  • February 1897, an exploratory delegation travels to the capitols of 9 Western States seeking appropriations.

  • April 22, 1897 (Arbor Day), cornerstone is laid in the Arch of States Entrance.

  • Mr Herman Kountz sold 11 acres of his land to the Exposition Committee for $15,000.00, $5,000 of which he would donate to the cause. With the land to become a city park (Kountze Park) after the Exposition.

  • July 9th, 1897, the "Kountz Tract" was approved.

  • June 1st, 1898, Opening Day Ceremonies. Parade formed at 10:30 AM under sunny skies.

  • Opening Song: Song of Welcome written by Henry M Blossom.

  • Prayer supplied by Reverend Samuel J Nichols of Nebraska.

  • Official Opening is scheduled for 12:00 PM but delayed until 1:53 PM because of last minute problems.

  • President McKinley was scheduled to make a long distance telephone call from Washington DC during the Opening Ceremonies. But at the last moment it was changed to a telegraph message.

  • The President sends his message. The telegraph key is depressed. Crowd goes wild. The Exposition is officially opened.

  • Opening Day closes at 9:00 PM with a fireworks display.

  • The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition becomes the first American Exposition to open with the main buildings completed and on the original opening date.

  • Paid and Pass admission tickets were produced in colors that changed daily, sometimes several times in the same day.

  • Thirteen categories of Passes existed, and included Full Term Wagon Passes, Photographic Passes and Sleeping Permits.

  • Special Commutation Coupon Books were issued before the Exposition. These Admission Books contained a photograph of the bearer and sold in two styles: $12.50 for 25 admissions and $20 for 100 admissions. Very few of these books were sold.

  • Photographic Coupon Admission Books were issued to exhibitors and concessionaires. And sold for $2.50 each July 1st and $2 each afterwards.

  • Georgia was the only southern state east of the Mississippi River to erect a building at the Exposition.

  • The Battleship Maine was blown-up every day.

  • A Log Rolling Contest was held on Lumberman's Day (September 9th) with a $250 prize.

  • A Livestock show on Livestock Day (October 3rd) awarded $35,000 in premiums.

  • President McKinley visited on Governor's Day (October 11th) and President's Day (October 12th).

  • On October 16th a snow storm hit the Exposition.

  • October 22nd, 13,594 children were given free admittance.

  • Closing Day was Omaha Day (October 31st).

  • School children from Nebraska and Iowa raised money for the Boy's and Girls' Building.

  • An estimated crowd of 10,000 people feasted on 30 pound melons On Texas Melon Day.

  • Railroad tracks were laid inside the Exposition grounds for transportation of exhibits. The tracks were covered during the Exposition and a charge of $4.00 per car load was assessed.

  • On the Fair's three busiest days, The Omaha Street Railway Company transported an average of 242,617 passengers.

  • The Nebraska Farmer celebrated its 26th Anniversary by awarding $1,350.00 in special premiums.

  • The US Government Building was the most popular exhibit followed by the Transportation and Agricultural Implement Building.

  • Noted Fires: California Gold Mining Tunnel (June 3rd) and the "Mt Nebo Chapel" (July 10th).

  • Lagoon covered 7 1/2 acres and contained 13,800,000 gallons of water.

  • The lagoon was filled in and the area was graded to form Kountze Park.

  • All the buildings, structures and holdings were sold to the Greater America Exposition for $17,500.00.

  • In 1899, everything was demolished or removed.


Indian Congress


  • Opened: August 4, 1898.

  • Area: North Tract.

  • Size: 4+ acres.

  • Original US Government Appropriation: $100,000.

  • Amended US Government Appropriation: $40,000.

  • Controlling Government Entity: Secretary of the Interior.

  • Acting Manager: Captain WA Mercer, 8th US Infantry.

  • Participants: Over 500 Indian delegates from 35 different tribes.

  • Participating Tribes: Apache, Arapahoe, Assiniboine, Bannock, Blackfoot, Chippewa, Cheyenne, Comanche, Creek, Crow, Flandreau, Flathead, Fox, Iowa, Iroquois, Jicarilla, Kiowa, Lakota, Lower Brule, Nez Pierce, Omaha, Osage, Oto, Ponca, Potawatomi, Rosebud, Sacs, Sauk, Santa Clara Pueblo, Sioux, Siserton, Standing Rock, Tonkawa, Wichita, and Winnebago.

  • It took an Act of Congress (Indian Appropriation Act) to assemble the Indian Tribes.

  • Activities began as far back as December, 1897.

  • July 1, 1898, the Indian Appropriation Act is approved by President McKinley and $40,000 in appropriation money is released.

  • Due to the Spanish American War. The original US Government appropriations of $100,000 could not be realized. It wasn't until one month after the Exposition opened that a reduced amount of money was released. This is why the Indian Congress opened late without a planned ethnologic exhibit and the reason why they did not participate in Opening Day Ceremonies.

  • Many Indian nations distrusted the gathering and should a lack of interest in participation.

  • Only Indians of full-blood of "good morals and habits" with "good temperament" were chosen to attend.

  • Participants were given free transportation and lodging (for lack of a better word) but they had to bring their own clothing, utensils, dwellings, historical accouterments and craft items.

  • Chief Geronimo and his lieutenant "Nachie" were in attendance ... but as prisoners-of-war.

  • Indians arrived individually and in delegations throughout the gathering.

  • 80% of Indians were from the "tipi" or "lodge" tribes of the plains.

  • An average teepee: is 15 feet high, 20 feet in diameter, uses 3-4 main support poles (approximately 20 poles altogether), can house a family of 6 and always faces east.

  • The Sioux tribe is the largest in the United States.

  • The Ghost Dance, Mounted Horn Dance and Apache Devil Dance were performed.

  • Ceremonies, dances and sham-battles were added to attract visitors.

  • The tribes had to deal with extreme weather conditions through out the gathering.

  • Three Native Americans died during the Exhibition: a Sauk warrior and two babies.

  • Two infants were born during the encampment.

  • Hundreds of portraits were commissioned and taken by the exposition photographer.

  • Nebraska displayed the ghost shirt of the Sioux leader "Big Foot". The shirt was cut from his dead body by JH McKnight of Long Pine Nebraska after the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.

  • Indian attacks were frequent in Omaha just 30 years before this Exposition.

  • Largest Native American gathering since the end of the Indian Wars.

  • At the close of the Exposition, many items and habitats were purchased by the National Museum.


Agricultural Building


  • Size: 400 by 140 feet, 40 feet high.

  • Cost: $60,987.51.

  • Awards Given: 1 Highest Awards, 51 Gold, 32 Silver, 71 Bronze, 73 Honorable Mentions.

  • Featured exhibits from 14 States.

  • Suffered from a badly leaking roof.


Fine Arts Building


  • Superintendent: Armand H. Griffith.

  • Size: 240 by 125 feet, 39 feet tall.

  • Cost: $46,163.05.

  • Sculptor: Bringhurst of St Louis.

  • Exhibits: Braune Autotypes, 200 black and white drawings loaned by the Century and Scribner's magazines.


Horticulture Building


  • Supervisor: Professor Frederick W Taylor.

  • Architect: Charles F. Reindorff.

  • Length: 300 feet.

  • Wings: 70 feet.

  • Dome: 110 feet, 29 feet high.

  • Cost: $35,130.33.

  • Exhibits: approximately 600.

  • Awards Given: 2 Highest Awards, 63 Gold, 86 Silver, 136 Bronze, 72 Honorable Mentions.

  • Thirteen State provided exhibits.


Liberal Arts and Bureau of Education



  • Superintendent: Frances M Ford.

  • Size: 280 by 125 feet, 36 feet 4 inches tall.

  • Area: 46,128 square feet.

  • Cost: $31,183.26.

  • Exhibits: brooders, calculators, chemistry, fiber, furniture, furs, globes, household appliances, incubators, jewelry, maps, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, photographic exhibits, pianos, pottery, stoneware, stringed instruments, typewriters.


Machinery & Electricity Building


  • Superintendents: RB Owens, Professor HB Owens from Nebraska.

  • Size: 300 by 140 feet, 31 feet 8 inches high.

  • Machinery: 14,404 square feet (floor), 7,500 square feet (gallery).

  • Electricity: 13,620 square feet (floor), 7,500 square feet (gallery).

  • Total Coverage: 28,024 square feet of floor space, 15,000 square feet in gallery.

  • Cost: $50,019.90.

  • Exhibits: boilers, dynamos, electric appliances, electric heat, filters, gasoline engines, Hotchkiss gun, intelligent scales, leather belting, mills, muzzle loading shot-gun, printing presses, projectiles, pumps, shot and shell cartridges, smokeless powder, steam engines, steam pumps, steel pointed rifle bullets, telegraphy, telephones, underground wiring, vest-pocket pistol, wrought iron.

  • Noted Exhibits: a six pounder shell from the wreck of the "Maine", an automatic rifle that could shoot four hundred rounds per minute, Corliss engines, Edison's Electric light dynamo, Harvey-ized steel Armour, Morse telegraph, original "Hudson Light", the Leyden Jar, the x-ray.


Manufacturer's Building



  • Superintendent: HB Hardt.

  • Size: 300 by 125 feet 40 ft high (other sources indicate 400 feet long and 148 feet wide).

  • Area: 49,669 square feet (floor), 19,884 square feet (gallery).

  • Cost: $56,256.13.

  • International Hall: housed Canadian and Mexican exhibits.

  • Area: 18,583 square feet.

  • Awards: 17 Highest Awards, 501 Gold, 296 Silver, 155 Bronze, 120 Honorable Mentions.

  • Exhibits: canning and packaging, carvings, chocolate, cocoa, cookery, cut glass, cutlery, electric cutter, furnaces, furniture, furs, gems, jewelry, Limoge China, lubricating oils, meat packaging, minerals, oriental carvings, ovens, perfumes, refrigeration, silks, silver ware, statuary, stoves, tapestries, tobacco, tools, woolens.


Mines and Mining Building


  • Superintendent: Dr. David T Day.

  • Size: 400 by 140 feet, 48 feet 6 inches high.

  • Cost: $42,250.55.

  • Awards Received: 38 Gold, 58 Silver, 77 Bronze, 44 Honorable Mentions.

  • Awards Given: Gold: 27, Silver: 69, Bronze: 70, Honorable Mention: 39 (205 grand total).

  • Award Breakdown: Alabama (4), Arizona (11), British Columbia (4), California (3), Colorado (27), Arkansas (1), Georgia (6), Illinois (4), Indian Territory (1), Iowa (2), Michigan (1), Kansas (16), Minnesota (4), Missouri (30), Nebraska (5), Nevada (17), New York (4), Mexico (1), Pennsylvania (3), New Mexico (6), Utah (21), Oregon (20), Wyoming (8), Washington DC (1), Washington State (5) .

  • Over 40 leaks were discovered during downpours and building locks were not very secure.

  • Hanging from the roof was a large United States flag (150 wide by 87 feet high) sewn by Utah women after being admitted to the United States.

  • Exhibits: largest electric furnace known, artificial graphite, gold nuggets, crude petroleum, telluride gold ores, cyanide, iron ore, onyx, silicified tree trunks.

  • Noted Exhibit: 48 pure silver ingots, worth $40,000 from the Omaha & Grant Smelting Company.


Transportation & Agricultural Implement Building


  • Superintendent: DH Elliott.

  • Building Style: Medieval, Swiss.

  • Size: 432 feet long, 300 feet wide.

  • Area: 59,158 square feet.

  • Exhibitors: 151.

  • Hours: 8:00 AM - 6:30 PM.

  • Contained 4 railway tracks with 1728 feet of track.

  • The Pullman "Vestibule Train" received 520,000 visitors.

  • Noted Exhibit: Pullman's "Vestibule Train".


US Government Building



  • Location: west end of the Grand Court.

  • Supervising Architect: JK Taylor.

  • Design Style: Classic, Ionic order.

  • Builders: George Moore and Sons, of Nashville, Tennessee.

  • Area: 46,000 square feet.

  • Hours: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM daily from June 1st to September 1st. 
    Then changed to 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily.

  • Life Saving Exhibit: 4:00 PM daily.

  • Total Exhibit Area: 36,325 square feet.

  • Balloon House: 50 feet by 50 feet square, 50 feet tall.

  • Portico: 742 square feet.

  • Main Aisle: 14 feet wide.

  • Fire Hydrants: 9 (50 feet of hose each).

  • Photographic Pass: $3.00.

  • Interior Decorations: maroon-colored burlap, maroon and old-gold cheesecloth, gray and red paint, American Flags.

  • Lighting: 10 arc lamps, 1,091 incandescent lamps.

  • Lighting Cost: $720.

  • Initial US Government Appropriations: $150,000 for exhibits, $50,000 for the building.

  • Adjusted US Government Appropriations: $137,500 for exhibits, and $62,500 for the building.

  • Actual Exhibit Cost: $137,771.37.

  • United States Life-Saving Service Exhibit Appropriation: $2,500.

  • Awards Given: 152.

  • Assistant Postmaster: JI Woodard.

  • Post Office Business: $33,644.61.

  • The Patent Office displayed 462 original patent models.

  • The Entomology display contained an exhibit that showed 435 different kinds.

  • Military Ship models included the: Annapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Bancroft, Charleston, Illinois, Kearsarge, Maine, Monterey, Newark, Vesuvius, Wheeling and Yorktown.

  • Many military items (torpedoes, weapons, etc) and Marines were not available at the beginning of the Exposition because of the War with Spain.

  • The Balloon House contained 3 large hydrogen Balloons (21,000 cubic feet) and 20 smaller signal balloons. 23 Signal Corpsmen were detached to operate the exhibit.

  • The Revenue Cutter Service Commander was Lieutenant CH McLellan. However, before the opening of the Exposition he was called to active duty and did not return until October. His Assistant Superintendent, Captain HM Knowles took charge during his absence.

  • The Post Office issued 1600 money orders, handled 1,192 pieces of mail and sold $4,718.58 in stamps.

  • The US Government was not a competitive exhibitor but they did give out Commemorative Bronze Medals and Diplomas to it's exhibitors.

  • Additional lights were added to the exterior for the 4th of July celebration and stayed until the close of the Exposition. Ironically, appropriations were not allocated for the electricity to run them.

  • The lighting actually belonged to the Bureau of Light and Power.

  • "Liberty Enlightening the World" was the figure on the dome. Her torch was 178 feet from the ground.

  • George Moore and Sons also designed the Government Building at the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

  • Exhibits: aquatic displays, archaeological exhibits, armament, autographed letters, botany, chemistry, colored photography, educational material, entomology, fishery, forestry data, geological surveys, Indian artifacts and relics, Lighthouse furnishings, lighting, machinery, medical apparatus, military accoutrements and maps, models, Pathology, photographs, 
    Pomology, prison reports, treaties, US currency from 1793 to 1898, US Government publications, weaponry, weather instruments.

  • Noted Exhibits: a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, a model of the "Blake" (Coast Survey Steamer), a set of eyeglasses given to George Washington by Lafayette, a telescope for night signaling, an artotype of the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin's staff, Heliograph, items from Greeley's Arctic Exposition, the desk on which Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, Proclamations signed by every President of the United States, Spanish War booty, the model battleship 'Illinois', the Roentgen (x-ray), Twenty Mauser rifles captured at Santiago.


Links, Resources, Sources



Resources, Sources - Books


  • A History of the Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition by John Wakefield. 650 pages. May 1903. Also known as "The Secretary's Report" or "The Wakeman Report". Just about anything that you wanted to know about the Exposition can be found in this report. Many facts and figures on this page were verified with this document.

  • 1897-1898 Harper's Weekly Magazines. Articles regarding the Trans-Mississippi in the June 18th,  August 20th, and October 8th, 1898 issues.

  • Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition Official Guidebook. Omaha, Nebraska 1898.

  • Video: Westward the Empire: Omaha's World Fair of 1898, produced by the University of Nebraska at Omaha Television.

  • The photographic images on this page are believed to be from FA Rinehart, the Official Photographer. I have these photographs in my possession and no reference is mentioned as to the photographer. His photographs are in the public domain.



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