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Nebraska County Countdown: Day 86

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Blaine County, you’re up.

Welcome to Blaine County, NE, founded in 1885. In full disclosure, my amateur-historian roommate is helping me with this. He went on a roadtrip across the state of Nebraska over spring break, so he’ll be providing us with some pictures for this countdown. According to the most recent census, Blaine County has a population of 478. Blaine County is the second smallest county by population in Nebraska, and sixth smallest in the United States. It is named after former Presidential candidate in 1876 James G. Blaine.

It is located in the Sandhills, a very unique landscape providing high profits for cattle ranchers featuring a large amount of short to mid-grass prairies. It was lightly populated due to the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed farmers/ranchers to claim 160 acres of land for free if they promised to live on the land and improve it for five years. The county became more populated after the passage of Kin Kaid Act of 1904, which improved the Homestead Act of 1862 to give farmers/ranchers 640 acres of land in the semi-aird areas. This was done to attract more farmers/ranchers.

Communities started to pop up in the 1880s, including Brewster which is the county seat. At its height, Brewster had over 100 people, but now it only has 17. One famous former business in Brewster was a saloon owned by the legendary outlaw Doc Middleton. Middleton allegedly rustled 2,000 horses in his lifetime, was apart of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and competed in a 1,000 mile long horse race from Chadron to Chicago (he cheated and rode on the train for part of the race).

Halsey is a town split in half by Blaine and Thomas County, which currently serves as the headquarters for Nebraska National Forests At Halsey. At over 90,000 acres it the largest hand-planted forest in the United States, and a major source of employment for Blaine County. The forest is also split between Thomas and Blaine County.

Dunning is the only other village in Blaine County, and it houses the only high school for the county known as Sandhills Public Schools.

Husker Stuff:

Tom Osborne coached the Huskers to a 10-2 record in 1986 finishing the season third in the Big 8 and a Sugar Bowl victory over LSU.

The current Husker wearing number 86 is Sophomore TE, Jack Stoll.

Nebraska has met Oklahoma 86 times.

Former TE Johnny Mitchell wore number 86. Mitchell played for the Huskers from 1990-1991, he left for the NFL after his sophomore season. He was a two time All-Big Eight player and set single game records for TE receptions and yards against Oklahoma in 1991.

Dwayne Harris played OLB for the Huskers from 1991-1994. In ‘93 Harris accounted for 22 tackles (14 solo), and in ‘94 he was Second-Team All-Big Eight.

Did I miss anything? Some of these former Huskers were hard to find, let me know if I missed anything in the comments.