Norfolk is a city in Madison County, Nebraska, United States, 113 miles northwest of Omaha and 83 miles west of Sioux City at the intersection of U.S. Routes 81 and 275. The population is 24,210 at the 2010 census, making it the ninth-largest city in Nebraska. It is the principal city of the Norfolk Micropolitan Statistical Area. Norfolk is the eastern terminus of the Cowboy Trail.
In late 1865, three scouts were sent from a German Lutheran settlement near Ixonia, Wisconsin to find productive, inexpensive farmland that could be claimed under the Homestead Act. From the Omaha area, they followed the Elkhorn River upstream to West Point. Finding that area too crowded, they continued up the river. On September 15, they reached the junction of the Elkhorn and its North Fork, and chose that area as a settlement site.:1-2 On May 23, 1866, a party of 124 settlers representing 42 families from the Ixonia area set out for northeast Nebraska in three wagon trains. They arrived at the new site on July 15.:8 A second group of settlers from Wisconsin arrived in July 1867.:19
The original name of the colony was a variant of "North Fork", but accounts differ on the exact name: "Northfork",:32 "Nor'fork", and "Nordfork" are all suggested. The name was submitted to federal postal authorities, and at some point was transmuted to "Norfolk". The pronunciation "Norfork" is still used by many Nebraskans.