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Barbeque Rib Cook-off - 2017
Rushville
June

Sheridan County Fair and Rodeo
Gordon
July 23-29, 2017

Friendly Festival - 2017
Hay Springs
August 26-27, 2017

Fun Days - 2017
Rushville
Sept. 2 - 4, 2017

Willow Tree Festival 2017
Gordon
September 9 & 10, 2017

Rushville Rancher Roundup Octoberfest
Rushville
October

 
About Sheridan County

Communities and the Landscape:
Vibrant colors grace sunrises and sunsets, brilliant blue skies and crystal clear starlit nights are typical of any season in Sheridan County. Travelers can experience nature at its best in Sheridan County. The area's diverse landscape, abundant wildlife and an ecological system that compares to the best of an ecologists experience, make up the eastern segment of Pine Ridge Country.

The communities of Gordon, Rushville and Hay Springs lie in northern Sheridan County where U.S. Highway 20 threads from east to west. The areaīs diverse landscape from northern to central Sheridan County include large rock formations and limestone cliffs jutting up among Ponderosa Pine forests, rolling hills covered with natural prairie grasses to rich loam-soil farm grounds. In addition to services and amenities offered in these communities, travelers will experience a glimpse of pioneer history.

Bordered on the southeast by the largest natural grass covered sand dunes in the western hemisphere, the vast grassland area called the Sandhills of Nebraska, makes up the terrain of southern Sheridan County. Travelers can experience the natural beauty and tranquility of the Sandhills when driving north to Pine Ridge Country on Highways 250 from Lakeside to Rushville, 27 from Ellsworth to Gordon or 87 from Alliance to Hay Springs.

History:
Principal Indian Tribes in this region, about the time of the arrival of the white settler, included the Dakota Sioux and the Northern Cheyenne. The area that would later become Sheridan County was home to the Oglala and Brule Sioux tribes. As settlers moved westward the Native American tribes were forced from their lands into increasingly smaller areas. The number of hunters who moved into the area to kill the bison for the hides exacerbated the friction during this time.
Conflicts between the settlers and the Native Americans led to meetings between the federal government the tribes. In the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie signed by Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho, the tribes agreed to specific land boundaries on the northern plains and to remain peaceful. The overland trails continued to cross their lands causing many conflicts. Eventually, a wandering cow created conflict in the camp of Brule Sioux of the North Platte River, east of Fort Laramie which resulted in the murder of the Sioux Chief, Conquering Bear, by Lieutenant John Gratton and his men who were in turn murdered by the Sioux. This conflict was the impetus for a series of "Indian Wars" beginning in the 1860īs.

In the late 1860īs and early 1870īs, Texas cattlemen began to drive their herds north on the Texas Trail to feed in Nebraska. The free-range cattle companies secured large tracts of land in the Sandhills Region and continued operation until conflicts arose with federal government, which divided the land into smaller homestead parcels.

The Kinkaid Act (1904) was formed in order to encourage settlement in the Sandhills Region, understanding that most of this region was not suitable for farming. The Kinkaid Act allowed homesteaders to file 640- acre claims recognizing that this region required larger parcels of land for the implementation of farming and ranching operations. This act is responsible for the largest census figure to date (1920) for many of Sandhills counties.

In 1878, the first white settlement occurred on White Clay Creek, approximately 20 miles northwest of the present site of Rushville. This became the first permanent settlement in Sheridan County. Most of the first settlers employed "squatters" rights, filing later at Valentine after the United States land office was established.

In 1884, a group of settlers from Indiana led by Reverend John A Scamahorn founded the town of Gordon. The previous year Charles Bachelor had settled near the present site of Gordon and two other settlers. Shattuck and Holmes had established the first store and post office in the vicinity. Reverend Scamahorn named the town after the adventurer, John Gordon, whose expeditions to the Black hills ended disastrously in 1875.

Another village was established in 1885 for which Abel Love, the first postmaster, suggested the name Moulton, but as there was another town of that name in the state the name Clinton was given to the colony.

The coming of the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad provided the impetus for the citizens to organize a County board and name their County Sheridan. In the fall of 1885 Rushville Village was organized and named after Rush Creek. In this year as well the town of Hay Springs was organized. A post office had been established with John Holden as postmaster. The station was called Moakler after Mrs. Holdenīs parents, however, when the village was organized it was renamed Hay Springs because of the large amount of hay which grew in the vicinity, and because the spring was located nearby.

The battle to establish the County seat began at a County election September 8, 1885. Contenders were Gordon, Clinton, Hay Springs, and Rushville. Clinton was eliminated from the race the first election. The second election, September 27, eliminated Gordon. Ate count after the third election on November 3, Hay Springs was named the County seat by virtue of a majority votes. Unfortunately, fraud was apparent and the matter was taken to court for a recount of the votes. The recount disclosed Hunter precinct with only forty-two legal voters had brought in 226 votes for Rushville. Even Rushville?s own vote exceeded the legal limit by 130. Hay Springs had tallied 243 more votes than voters, and Gordon had cast 65 fraudulent votes. The matter was carried to the Supreme Court. In 1888 the matter was decided and the decision made in favor of Rushville, the present day County Seat.

Sheridan County was one of the real battlegrounds between farmers and cattleman in Nebraska. In the 1880īs and from then until World War I, the struggle between big ranchers and settlers went on in the County. Settlers received encouragement from land laws giving free land, from railroads and 1880īs vintage entrepreneurs.

In order to alleviate this problem the settlers of the Mirage Flats region embarked upon an ambitious irrigation program bringing water from the Niobrara River. A corporation to irrigate was formed in 1895 and initiated an effort calling for over 30 miles of ditches to elevate water sufficiently for ultimate disposition to Mirage Flats. The project did not succeed due to engineering and cost restraints and in 1916 the Mirage Flats Irrigation Company disbanded and dissolved.

Along with World War I, came the "Potash Boom" in Southern Sheridan County. Antioch, and Lakeside became important industrial centers. In an extremely short period Antiochīs population increased from 175 to between 1,600 and 3,000 people. When the war ended so did the employment and Antioch is now not much more than a memory. Click the following link to read more in pdf format. The Great WWI Potash Industry of Southern Sheridan County, Nebraska - by Clint Andersen.

In 1937, local residents organized the Mirage Flats Public power and Irrigation District to convince the federal government to construct a dam across the Niobrara River with the Works Progress Administration funds. In 1940, the Great Plains committee approved the proposal and Mirage Flats became a project under the Water Conservation and utilization Program initiated by the Wheeler-Case Act that authorized use of federal funds for irrigation development in the semiarid plains. The Bureau of Reclamation developed the irrigation water supply system and the Department of Agriculture purchased the land, prepared it for irrigation, and resettled the land.

War suspended progress on this project in December 1942, however work resumed in the fall of 1944. In the 1946, the new canal was completed. The project cost $2.5 million.

Of the waterways in Sheridan County the Niobrara River is the principal course. Niobrara means "swift running" Deer Creek was so named because of the vast number of deer that grazed there. The name of Beaver Creek was derived from the beavers which were once numerous in the area. Lime Kiln Creek was so named because the early settlers burned lime from soil through which it flows. Crave Creek was named for a pioneer settler, Gus Craven. White Clay Creek runs through hills whose light-colored outcroppings give the stream its name. In northern Sheridan County arises historic Wounded Knee Creek on whose banks (in South Dakota) was fought the famous last fight in the United States between the Native Americans and white men. The creek was allegedly named for an Indian Chief who was wounded there years before.

Sheridan County contains both farm and ranch land. The farmland area lies between Pine Ridge on the north and the Sandhills north and south of the Niobrara River. The land was first filed on over half a century ago with the first influx of settlers. To this day there are remains of some of the first sod houses.



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