Hanna is an old coal camp, founded back in the late 1800's by the Union Pacific Coal Company to house workers (and their families) who were mining coal for the Union Pacific Railroad steam locomotives. To make sure the folks remember those days, there is a massive old drag-line system still standing in the background of Hanna (to the north of town). Hanna is also remembered as the site of 2 massive coal mine explosions, one in 1903, the other in 1908, that killed 228 men between them.

The Overland Trail passed through Hanna while the Lincoln Highway (the first transcontinental auto route) passed through town until US Highway 30 was re-routed a few miles south of town.