Keith County, located in the western part of Nebraska, has a rich history that dates back to the days of the pioneers. The county is named after M.C. Keith, a local businessman who played a significant role in establishing the area's first settlements. Today, Keith County is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world with its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife. Here are some interesting facts about Keith County's history that everyone should know.
1. The County Was Established in the Late 19th Century
Keith County was officially established on April 1, 1873. The county was carved out of the much larger Cheyenne County, which at the time covered much of western Nebraska. The area that would become Keith County was sparsely populated at the time, consisting mostly of nomadic tribes of Native Americans.
2. The First Permanent Settlement in the Area Was Ogalala City
The first permanent settlement in the area that would become Keith County was Ogalala City. The town was established on the south side of the South Platte River in 1868. Ogalala City was an important stopover for traders and travelers heading west, and many early pioneers made their homes here.
3. The Railroad Brought Growth to the Area
The construction of the Union Pacific Railroad through Keith County in the 1860s and 1870s brought growth and prosperity to the area. The railroad provided a faster, more efficient way to transport goods and people to and from the western frontier.
4. The County Experienced a Boom in Population in the Early 1900s
The early 1900s saw a significant increase in the population of Keith County. Many settlers moved to the area, attracted by the rich farmland and abundant natural resources. The town of Ogallala grew into a thriving community, with a bustling downtown area and a variety of businesses and shops.
5. The County Was Home to One of the First Irrigation Projects in the Country
The 1890s saw the introduction of irrigation projects in Keith County. These projects aimed to provide water to the arid farmland of the western plains, allowing farmers to grow crops in areas that were previously unsuitable. Keith County was home to one of the first and most successful irrigation projects in the country, which paved the way for the development of other projects throughout the western United States.
6. The County Was a Popular Destination for Outlaws and Criminals
Keith County was once a popular destination for outlaws and criminals, who found refuge in the remote wilderness areas of the county. The most infamous of these outlaws was Tom Horn, a notorious gunslinger and cattle rustler who operated in the area in the late 19th century.
7. The County Is Home to Many Popular Attractions Today
Today, Keith County is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world with its scenic beauty, abundant wildlife, and numerous attractions. Some of the most popular attractions in the area include Lake McConaughy, which offers a variety of recreational opportunities, and Boot Hill, a historic cemetery that features the graves of many of the area's early settlers and outlaws.
In conclusion, Keith County has a rich and varied history that spans centuries. From its earliest days as a wild and untamed frontier to its current status as a popular tourist destination, the county has played an important role in the development of the Western United States. Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a relaxing vacation destination, Keith County has something to offer everyone.
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