The Beef State

The cattle industry has been vital to Nebraska by providing immensely to the states economy and culture. Nebraska is even known as the "beef state." This tour covers the cattle drive era, open range era, beginning of ranching in Nebraska, and the modern life stock industry. This tour also gives a closer look into cowboys, ranches , stockyards, and the importance of the cattle industry in Nebraska's history.

Cowboy Capital

Named for the Oglala band of Dakota Sioux and located on the Union Pacific Railroad, Ogallala was a lusty cowtown of the Old West. From 1875 to 1885 it was a wild woolly cowboy capital where gold flowed across the gaming tables, liquor across the…

Opening the Sandhills

The first ranch in this area was set up on the Niobrara River about five miles south of here in 1877. E. S. Newman established his ranch to sell cattle to the government for delivery to the Indians at the Pine Ridge Agency to the north. The…

South Omaha People

People journeyed from many distant lands to this prairie village that grew so rapidly it was called The Magic City. South Omaha's stockyards and meat-packing plants were their destination for hope and opportunity. Union Stockyards, founded in…

Spade Ranch

Twenty miles northeast of here is Spade Ranch headquarters, a National Register of Historic Places site. In Ellsworth are the business offices (built c. 1890) and home (built 1902) of cattleman Bartlett Richards (1862-1911), a Vermont native.…

Red Cloud Agency

Red Cloud Agency was established here in 1873 for Chief Red Cloud and his Ogalala band, as well as for other northern plains Indians, totaling nearly 13,000. Their earlier agency had been located on the North Platte near Fort Laramie. The agencies…

DeWitty - An African American Settlement in the Sandhills

Spread out along the North Loup River west of here, DeWitty, later known as Audacious, was the largest and longest-lasting African American settlement in rural Nebraska. The settlers, including former slaves who had fled to Canada before the Civil…

Mari Sandoz, 1896-1966

This is the country of Mari Sandoz--historian, novelist, teacher--who brought its history and its people to life in her many books, articles and stories. She was born in Sheridan County, Nebraska. Although she lived much of her life in the East, she…

Mitchell & Ketchum Homesteads

The most infamous Nebraska showdown between settlers and cattlemen began in 1878 on the Custer County homesteads of Luther Mitchell and Ami Ketchum, located one mile to the south. Conflict arose when Ketchum's crops were trampled by cattle…

The Armour and Company Icehouse

The Armour and Company Icehouse was built in 1897-98 northwest of Memphis, Nebraska. It was one of the largest icehouses in the country, measuring approximately 180 feet wide, 700 feet long, and 52 feet high. A 300-horsepower steam engine and two…

The Texas Trail

After the Civil War, herds of Texas cattle were driven north to marketing points in eastern Nebraska, but settlement by homesteaders forced the trail further west each year. Beginning in 1875, Union Pacific selected Ogallala as its main shipping…

The 100th Meridian

The 100th Meridian is the 100th longitudinal line west of Greenwich, England which was set by Congress as a major goal in building the first transcontinental railroad. Construction of the Union Pacific reached the Meridian on October 5, 1866. The…

Porcupine Ranch

Between 1855 and 1867 companies like Russell, Majors, and Waddell shipped millions of pounds of freight across the plains to supply military posts and mining camps to the West. After 1861 freighters followed the "Nebraska City-Fort Kearney…

Spring Ranche

The original Spring Ranche, located two miles south of here on the north side of the Little Blue River, was founded about 1863. James Bainter, the first permanent settler, operated a store and inn for travelers along the Oregon-California Trail. The…

Boot Hill

Boot Hill was the final resting place for many early westerners who helped make Ogallala a booming cowtown in the 1870's and 1880's. These people, the cowboys, settlers, and drifters, came to Ogallala when the railroad and the Texas Trail…

The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad

The Burlington & Missouri River Railroad entered Nebraska at Plattsmouth in 1870 and built west to join the Union Pacific at Kearney Junction (now Kearney city) on September 3, 1872. The railroad bridge into Kearney was used for 104 years. It…

Walker's Ranch

Two miles to the east is the site of Walker's Ranch, an early Kearney County landmark. The ranch was established by Charles Walker in 1872 as a station on the government mail route from Kearney City to the Republican Valley. It consisted of a…

Mullen, Hooker County

The Grand Island and Wyoming Central branch of the Burlington railroad came through this area in 1887 and built a siding here named Mullen after a railroad contractor. In 1888 Trefren and Gandy platted the village of Mullen. Hooker County, named for…

Texas Trail Canyon

After the slaughter of the buffalo and the last of the Indian hunts, ranchers moved into this part of the Republican River country in 1875. Among them were I. P. and Ira Olive, who were using this canyon on their range in 1876. Herds of Texas cattle…

Scout's Rest

William Frederick Cody (1846-1917), known to the world a "Buffalo Bill," was the most noted Nebraskan of his day. The Many national and European tours of his various "Wild West" exhibitions made him the living symbol of the…

Lakeland Sod High School

Lakeland High School was constructed 20 miles south of this site by ranchers from several rural school districts during the summer of 1934. School began that September with 11 students. Constructed of prairie sod, with a sod roof supported by pole…

Watson Ranch

In 1888, H. D. Watson established the historic Watson Ranch, at one time containing 8,000 acres, reaching from the fertile Platte Valley on the south to the rolling hills on the north and from downtown Kearney to a point five miles west. During its…

Coffee Siding

Large pioneer ranches were established in this region of Nebraska in the 1870's and early 1880's. Charles F. Coffee was one of these pioneers, with ranch headquarters on Hat Creek in Nebraska and Rawhide Creek in Wyoming. By June, 1886, the…

Nebraska Centre - Boyd Ranche

James E. Boyd settled near here in 1858 and by 1860 operated a trail ranche supplying travelers on the Platte Valley Overland Route (Mormon Trail). The ranche included 200 acres of corn and barley. Nebraska Centre Post Office was here until if was…

The Neligh Mills

The Neligh Mills, built from locally fired brick in 1873 by John D. Neligh, was the first business and industry in the then newly platted town. Later owners and operators of the mill included William C. Galloway, Stephen F. Gilman and J. W. Spirk.…