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Nebraska County Countdown 75: Brown County

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Welcome to the Sandhills and Niobrara River Valley!

lexy nuesch

You get a two-fer today as we didn’t get a county article out yesterday. In case it hasn’t been mentioned, we are following license plate numbers in our countdown.

Welcome to #75 Brown County, population 2,946 according to Google (2015). The cities in Brown County are Ainsworth (county seat), Long Pine, and Johnstown. At its peak in the 1920’s, there were over 6,000 people that called Brown County home.

The photos sprinkled throughout this article are from a friend who manages her family ranch near Johnstown. In exchange for these beautiful images, I’m going to shamelessly plug her horse training business. If you have an interest in horses, horse training or horsemanship clinics, check out Lexy Nuesch Horse Training.

Nestled in the north central part of Nebraska, Brown County is on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills, the largest stable sand dune formation in the world. It also includes a portion of the Niobrara River valley, a gorgeous and unique area and my kids look forward every year to our annual tubing trip down the Niobrara River.

Lexy Nuesch

Brown County was established in 1883 but isn’t named after a famous Civil War general, or really any famous person at all. All I could find was that it was named after “two members of the legislature who reported the bill for the organization of the county.” I’m guessing their last names were Brown...

The county seat is Ainsworth which, according to the University’s ‘Virtual Nebraska’ website, was named after the chief engineer of the railroad when it reached the town site. The city also played a role in WWII.

During World War II, Ainsworth was the site of a 2,496 acre air base that trained crews flying B-17s, P-38s, and P-47s. Over 7,000 persons attended the 1947 National Air Show held in Ainsworth. After the war, the airfield was turned over to the city.

One of the more interesting (in a macabre way) was chronicling the “hard winter” of 1880-81 in Brown County. This is the same winter that was made famous in the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House on the Prairie” series.

The winter of 1880-’81 has gone into history as one of the most severe that was ever known. The prairies were covered with snow so deep that the cattle could not graze on the buffalo grass on which the ranchers relied for their winter feed. The snow came early in the fall and laid on the ground all winter. It was so deep that the cattle could not travel, and at times a crust of ice covered the surface of it making travel impossible as the cattle sank into the snow and thousands of head starved to death, sometimes in sight of the hay which ranchers had put up to be fed when the cattle could not graze.

Husker “75” trivia:

  • Current Huskers wearing #75 are Fyn Anderson (DL) and Trent Hixson (OL) both Nebraska natives
  • Who wore it best? Will Shields was an All-American offensive lineman who also ascended to the NFL Hall of Fame.
  • All-American DT Larry Jacobson (1971) also wore #75
  • The 1975 Cornhuskers posted a 10-2 record (6-1 in the Big Eight). The Huskers plowed through their season until the final regular season game when they ran into a Sooner buzz saw and lost 35-10. Despite the loss, they shared the conference title with Oklahoma that season. The Huskers went on to lose their bowl game to Arizona State (in a game played in the Sun Devils home stadium).

So, did I miss anything related to 75? Let me know in the comments!

Lexy Nuesch
Lexy Nuesch
lexy nuesch
Lexy Nuesch
lexy nuesch
lexy nuesch
lexy nuesch