June 18, 1877 The first settlers arrived in Nicodemus, Kansas, the only remaining western community established by African Americans. The town was named for an individual that came to America on a slave ship and later purchased his freedom. Formerly enslaved people in the South were encouraged to settle in Nicodemus. The town was portrayed as a place for African Americans to establish Black self-governance. Nicodemus had a population of almost 500, a bank, two hotels, three churches, a newspaper, a drug store, and three general stores by 1880. However, the Union Pacific Railroad bypassed Nicodemus and established an extension six miles away and across the river in 1888. Businesses moved to the new extension and Nicodemus began to experience a long gradual decline. The decline was accelerated by the 1929 depression and the severe droughts from 1932 to 1934. The town was reduced to a population of 76 people by 1935. Today, approximately 20 people live in Nicodemus and the only remaining business is the Nicodemus Historical Society Museum. Nicodemus was designated a National Historical Site November 12, 1996. Annually, Emancipation Day is celebrated in Nicodemus the last weekend of July.