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Railroads and Cattlemen of Brown County, Nebraska

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The Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley railroad began building westward in the late 70’s. Each year it pushed farther into the new farming regions. To supply the needs of the new settlers the railroad carried freight, mail, express and passengers to its western terminus, Oakdale, then Neligh which it reached in 1880.

In the late 70’s the cattlemen came ahead of the railroad. They were attracted by the rich, abundant grasses of the prairies which offered excellent range for their herds, with water, shelter and firewood to be found in the canyons. As a rule these ranchers held a “water front” on some running stream and had no legal title to the land as it had not formally been thrown open for settlement. Government surveyors had been at work for several years blocking out the land in sections, townships and ranges- so that records of each man’s land could be kept. They began near the Missouri river in the southeast part of the state, and each year pushed a little farther west and north. Great dangers and hardships were suffered by the surveyors while on duty in the new country. Robert Harvey of St. Paul, Nebraska, was in charge of the work in this portion of the state.

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