Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska (1882)

Produced by
Liz Lee.

KEITH County is situated in Western Nebraska, and is in extent forty-two miles eat and west; and forty eight miles north and south. On the north it adjoins the great unorganized portion of the State, while on the west it touches the state of Colorado.

The principal streams are the North and South Platte rivers, which flow across the north half of the county, from west to east and converge toward each other, forming between them an almost complete triangle, and , on the eastern boundary of the county, are only about four miles apart. Besides the above named rivers are a number of very small streams and cañons, which contain running water a portion of the year.

Along the rivers are broad and level bottom lands, that are very fertile, and produce a fine growth of grass. Ascending from the bottoms to the uplands, there is a great diversity of the general appearance of the surface of the land. In some places it rises in one gently slope until the high lands are reached, and in others the ascent is much broken by deep cañons or drawers. The greater extent of this rough land is found on the north side of the North Platte River.

The uplands themselves are high and rolling, and in many places contain lagoons of water that are of great benefit to the stock raiser, as they furnish a supply of water for his cattle and horses. These uplands are covered with a heavy growth of grass, generally of the buffalo variety.

The mean elevation of this county above the level of the sea is a little upward of 3,300 feet, and the climate is therefore so dry that crop raising is impossible, except by irrigation.

The population of the county is only about two hundred, and is made up of the cattle men, with their families. The number of families in the county is very few. There is but a small number of the residents not engaged in raising and caring for the immense herds of cattle that find pasturage within the borders of the county. The stock raising interest is a great one, and makes Keith one of the wealthy counties of Western Nebraska.

Though there was never but little population in the county except the stock raisers, the county was organized by them, on May 3, 1873, and has kept up the organization ever since. Before that time it was attached to Lincoln County, for judicial, revenue and elective purposes.

The Union Pacific Railroad extends across the county along the north side of the South Platte River, on which are located the following stations: Alkali, Roscoe, Ogalalla, and Brule. Of these stations all but one are mere flag stations, with no town.


This town is the county seat of Keith Count, and the only town in the county. It is on the line of the Union Pacific Railroad, and is quite centrally located. The location is a good one, on the level bottom lands of the South Platte River. Besides being the county seat, it is a headquarters for supplies for the cattle men of the county, and their place of rendezvous. The population of the town is a little more than one hundred, and there are a number of business houses, which have a stock of all such supplies as are in demand by the inhabitants of the county. This has also been quite a prominent shipping point for cattle driven through from Texas, as it is the terminus of one of the routes by which those cattle are driven.

Ogalalla is most decidedly the cattle-men's town, and on some occasions, it has been the scene of exciting times. It may be described as a wild town, with a restless people, and in the midst of a sparsely settle country.

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