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Nebraska County Countdown 53: Stanton County

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Tornadoes, rivers, and a fumblerooski, Oh My!

Elkhorn River at the edge of the town of Stanton
The Elkhorn River at the edge of the town of Stanton
Jill Heemstra

Welcome to Stanton County! The two towns in the county are Stanton (county seat) and Pilger. Woodland Park, which is essentially a suburb of Norfolk, is also located in Stanton County as a “census-designated area.” The total population in 2010 was 6,129 people.

Originally called Izard County (after the second territorial governor of Nebraska), it was renamed in 1862 for Edwin Stanton, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War. The county was formally organized in 1867 and is one of the smallest counties in the state by land area.

In 2014, twin tornadoes decimated the town of Pilger and killed two people, one them a five year old girl. The town’s school, along with the business district and a large percentage of homes, was destroyed. While the town will likely never reach its pre-tornado population again, the rebuilding effort has been remarkable. Pilger dubbed itself “The town too tough to die.”

Damage to the town of Pilger by an ef4 tornado in 2014. Public Domain

The Elkhorn River flows across the county, including right along the edge of the town of Stanton. The area around the river was considered a rich hunting ground for Native Americans before white settlers moved into the area in the 1860’s.

The county is home to the Maskenthine Lake recreation area which was created by damming Maskenthine Creek in 1976 as a flood control measure for the town of Stanton. The site includes a tree storage facility where the local Natural Resources District (NRD) stores tree seedlings that have been ordered for conservation plantings. All of the 1500-ish trees that Ranchdude and I have planted came through the storage facility at Maskenthine Lake.

Husker trivia related to “53”:

  • Current Husker wearing 53 - Joseph Johnson, a freshman linebacker from Gretna, NE
  • Who wore it best? Randy Schleusener was an All-America OG in 1980. Schleusener is perhaps most famous for being the guy who ran the original (1979 vs Oklahoma) Fumblerooski. Unfortunately, the Huskers came up short in that game 17-14. You can see that play below. Note: The play is at the 1 hour 57 minute mark in the video if the embed doesn’t take you to the right spot. The time stamp works on my laptop, but not on my phone.

The 1953 Huskers played a forgettable season and finished 3-6-1 and 2-4 in the Big Seven. Coach Glassford’s resignation was requested at the end of the season. He survived, largely thanks to the terms of his contract, but the athletic director was replaced. Glassford survived two more seasons before exiting in 1955.