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At that time, the area was most noted for its striking geological features—from the spectacular natural monument of Scotts Bluff, an imposing rock face jutting over 800 feet skyward from the flat terrain of the Nebraska plains, to the remarkable spire of Chimney Rock.
For many western travelers, weary from mundane and exhausting overland travel, the change in topography was a welcome respite.
Most of the valley’s cattle were Texas longhorns, driven up from Texas after the Civil War.
Opportunities for employment on cattle ranches lured many of the region’s earliest pioneers to the Scotts Bluff area.
During the early 1880s, western Nebraska farmers witnessed a prolonged drought that stretched nearly a decade, devastating even the most successful farmers.
Frustrated by the lack of water, but convinced that with properly watered fields farming could be successful, farmers turned to costly—though effective—irrigation projects to ensure an always available water supply.
Even many of the adequately prepared homesteaders found it necessary to obtain additional income to what their farms provided.
Though undaunted by earlier reports of sandy soil and scarce water, homesteaders discovered that growing hearty crops was a difficult task when winters were harsh and summers were hot.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.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.Soddies, as they were known, were damp, dark, and small, often forcing large families to live in only one or two rooms.