Welcome to Spring Valley Park. Pioneers of this region, eastern Rock County, recognized it as a great natural haying region extending over twenty miles south down this valley. The nearby village by Newport, established in 1883, became one of the major hay shipping centers in the nation, with thousands of tons being exported each year. Prairie fires have been a major threat to farmers and ranchers. The great prairie fire of 1904 burned over forty miles northward through the county, causing major damage to farmsteads, crops and livestock, and the village of Newport was threatened with destruction.
Because of the fine pasturage, Rock County developed into a major beef producing region, sending thousands of cattle annually to livestock marketing centers. Travelers through the area can view the herds of prime beef cattle.
On this site about 1938, Vic and Maude Thompson established what is considered to be the first roadside rest area in Nebraska. Over the years it has provided comfort to thousands of travelers, and in 1966 they dedicated this Centennial Memorial Forest and proclaimed their ranch a wildlife refuge, free to all. For Safety's Sake . . .Stop and Rest.