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History

History

The birth of each of Cheyenne County’s towns – Sidney, Lodgepole, Dalton, Gurley and Potter – can be traced back to Abraham Lincoln’s Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 which brought the Union Pacific Railroad to the area. As the transcontinental railroad was developed, military forts and work and depot stations were built in the surrounding areas, marking the very beginnings of Cheyenne County’s towns.

Sidney saw significant growth during the Gold Rush as thousands of miners rushed west along the Sidney-Deadwood Trail. Saloons, theaters, brothels and boarding houses popped up to entertain the constant stream of people traveling through town. If the early railroad years represent Cheyenne County’s youth, this era can be thought of as Sidney’s rebellious teenage years which earned the area the nickname “Sinful Sidney.”

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As the Gold Rush settled down and Cheyenne County matured, it became known more for its agriculture than its lawlessness. Farmers and ranchers replaced railroad workers and miners and Sidney became the center of the cattle industry.

In 1942, at the beginning of World War II, Sidney became the site for the Sioux Ordinance Depot, the second time in its history that Sidney acted as a military post. The post brought another rush of people and industry to Cheyenne County until the post was closed in 1967.

By the mid-20th Century, oil and natural gas became the newest resources drawing folks to southern Nebraska. To this day, Cheyenne County is still the second-leading producer of oil and natural gas in Nebraska and is home to the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Though Cheyenne County has experienced some setbacks along the way with periods of drought, the Depression and other economic setbacks, it has constantly come back to thrive again.

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