While settlers could easily obtain land under the terms of the Act, pioneer life on the western Nebraska frontier was not for the weak-spirited. With few permanent homesteads in the area, cattlemen generally had free reign to graze their livestock on the public domain throughout the region. In November , following local elections, Scotts Bluff County officially split from Cheyenne County, and voters selected Gering over Mitchell as the new county seat. When all sections of the corridor are finished, the highway complex will link many cities and trading centers on the Great Plains to the rest of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. By the turn of the 20th century, local farmers embarked on a series of ambitious irrigation projects, and numerous privately operated canals and irrigation ditches crisscrossed the North Platte River Valley. New Deal-sponsored programs in the s created Summit Road, the narrow road that traverses the summit of Scotts Bluff. This period saw the first brick buildings in the town erected, a jail built, and the establishment of numerous churches and civic organizations. The act provided Federal funds to construct expensive, permanent irrigation works to reclaim the Great Plains soil.
Even a relatively minor period of drought could devastate a farm. Settlers could now easily travel to and from the remote region, and farmers could supply distant markets with their perishable goods. To combat isolation, pioneers often forged communal bonds with distant neighbors. The Heartland Expressway is but one component of a much larger transportation network known as the Great Plains Trade Corridor. New Deal-sponsored programs in the s created Summit Road, the narrow road that traverses the summit of Scotts Bluff. Because local citizens feared that such a route would adversely affect the region economically, Ogallala, Oshkosh, Gering, and Scottsbluff all passed resolutions urging a more northerly route. While settlers could easily obtain land under the terms of the Act, pioneer life on the western Nebraska frontier was not for the weak-spirited. Although officials from the Union Pacific railroad platted the town in , the railroad did not lay tracks until On the Nebraskan plains, the treeless horizon was visible to the gaze in all directions for miles and miles. During the early s, western Nebraska farmers witnessed a prolonged drought that stretched nearly a decade, devastating even the most successful farmers. The limited settlements were largely concentrated around military forts--Fort Sidney, Fort Robinson, and Fort Mitchell --as well as Pony Express stations and trading posts. Few towns in western Nebraska pre-date the railroads. Even many of the adequately prepared homesteaders found it necessary to obtain additional income to what their farms provided. Settlers often used cow chips, the dried dung of buffalo or cattle, for fuel. The act provided Federal funds to construct expensive, permanent irrigation works to reclaim the Great Plains soil. By the s, the North Platte River Valley was a prominent grazing land for open-range cattle. Now renovated, the theater remains a valuable cultural asset in the community. The Lincoln Land Company, a subsidiary of the Burlington Railroad—the main business rival of Union Pacific, founded and platted the town in For many western travelers, weary from mundane and exhausting overland travel, the change in topography was a welcome respite. With few permanent homesteads in the area, cattlemen generally had free reign to graze their livestock on the public domain throughout the region. Tourism has also contributed to economic growth. Within three months of the introduction of rail lines into Scottsbluff, the nascent community became an incorporated village, and some older Gering businesses relocated to the higher-trafficked town. Rain fell sporadically on the plains, and the total amount of precipitation varied greatly from season to season. Some early homesteaders came to western Nebraska completely unprepared for the difficult task that lay ahead. Local news dailies, the Scottsbluff Republican, Scottsbluff Herald, Scottsbluff Star, and Gering Courier informed citizens throughout the county of local and national news. When all sections of the corridor are finished, the highway complex will link many cities and trading centers on the Great Plains to the rest of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico. They also visited local and State fairs to preach the gospel of irrigation and try to influence visitors to the fairs to move west.
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Mitchell, NE September 2013
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