The earliest permanent white settlements in the region were cattle ranches and farms.By the 1870s, the North Platte River Valley was a prominent grazing land for open-range cattle.
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On the Nebraskan plains, the treeless horizon was visible to the gaze in all directions for miles and miles.
To combat isolation, pioneers often forged communal bonds with distant neighbors.
Few towns in western Nebraska pre-date the railroads.
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.
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Sod was a good insulator and kept the houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Because of the limited timber reserves, pioneers turned to auxiliary forms of fuel to warm their soddies or prepare their food.
Because of local farmers’ determined efforts, limited crop cultivation in the region was successful and, in time, more settlers came looking to claim homesteads.
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.
Most of the valley’s cattle were Texas longhorns, driven up from Texas after the Civil War.