Chadron lies at the foot of some small, lightly forested hills, in the prairies of Nebraska. A grid of streets extends southward from the railroad. The many trees growing in the city make it stand out from the prairie around it.
In 1841 Louis B. Chartran managed a fur trading post here. By 1870, when the town was established, the pronunciation of his name had evolved to its present form. Homesteader Fannie O'Linn is credited with encouraging the development of a town, which she hoped would be named after her. 500 people were living here by 1884, and an official townsite was selected on August 1, 1885.
As of the year 2000, Chadron was home to 5,634 people. Chadron State College was established in 1911. U.S. Highway 20 passes through Chadron, heading east and west, and U.S. Highway 385 approaches from the south, intersecting Highway 20 on the west end of town. It joins Highway 20 for a few miles westward, then splits off to the north again.