Located in the southwestern part of Nebraska, Red Willow County has a rich history that often goes unnoticed. As one of the most rural regions in the state, this county is home to several fascinating facts and stories that shaped both the county and Nebraska as a whole. Here are seven interesting facts about the Red Willow County in Nebraska history:
1. Origin of the Name
Red Willow County takes its name from the Red Willow Creek, which flows through the county. The creek got its name from the red-colored bark of the eastern red willow tree that grows along its banks.
2. Pioneer History
The first pioneers to settle in Red Willow County arrived in the 1870s. These early settlers established farms, homes, and businesses in an area that was still mostly untamed prairie land.
3. McCook Army Airfield
During World War II, the US government established the McCook Army Airfield in Red Willow County. It was used as a training base for bomber pilots and served as a supply and maintenance center for bombers in the European and Pacific theaters.
4. Buffalo Bill visits Red Willow County
Famous showman and frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody visited Red Willow County in the late 1800s. He performed a Wild West show in the town of McCook, which drew a large crowd of spectators.
The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged western expansion, and many homesteaders took advantage of this opportunity in Red Willow County. By 1876, more than 200,000 homestead claims had been filed in Nebraska, with many of them located in the county.
6. The Legacy of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte
Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman to become a physician in the United States. She was born in Red Willow County in 1865 and went on to attend medical school in Pennsylvania. After completing her studies, she returned to Nebraska to establish a hospital for the Omaha Tribe.
7. Historic Downtowns
Several towns in Red Willow County, including McCook and Indianola, have vibrant historic downtown areas that showcase the county's rich history. These areas are home to many buildings that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and offer a glimpse into what life was like in the region during that time.
Red Willow County has a fascinating past that is still evident in its towns and landscapes today. From pioneers and homesteaders to military bases and Wild West shows, this region has played an important role in the history of Nebraska and the United States as a whole.
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