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Nebraska County Countdown 35: Dixon County

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Ponca State Park, Ed Weir, Jeff Kinney, and a 35 yard play from Frazier to Green

a picture of the newcastle vermillion bridge over the missouri river taken from the mulberry bend overlook in dixon county nebraska
The Newcastle Vermillion bridge over the Missouri river taken from the mulberry bend overlook in Dixon County Nebraska
Jill Heemstra

Welcome to the bluffs of the Missouri River Valley. Dixon County is home to 6,000 people (2010) and the county seat is Ponca.

In addition to the city of Ponca, Dixon County is home to the communities of Maskell, Newcastle, Martinsburg, Waterbury, Allen, Dixon, Concord, and a portion of Wakefield. I could not find any reference to the person after which the county was named.

Settling the townsite of Ponca: (from the Virtual Nebraska website)

Adam Smith, his wife, and nine other settlers crossed the Missouri into Nebraska in 1856 and camped south of the Aowa Creek, since to the north was “Indian territory.” Frank West and a Mr.Carson (uncle to Kit Carson) fearlessly knocked down the warning signs and proceeded to lay out a 24-block town beyond the “safe zone” on the present town site. Named for the Ponca Indians, who laid claim to the land from the Aowa to the Niobrara River, this was the first settlement between Sioux City and Fort Randall.

A post office was established in 1857, and Ponca was elected county seat when Dixon County organized in 1858.

Ponca is one of the five oldest communities in Nebraska and apparently was a port at one time until the fickle Missouri River moved away from the town. Some of the frontier-era buildings that are still standing include: the opera house, the Commercial Hotel, print shop, and Cook’s blacksmith shop.

The towns of Dixon and Concord are two miles apart. Dixon was settled by people of Irish descent while Concord was mostly Swedish. This caused a bit of a “rivalry” between the towns, although I did not find any historical accounts of this rivalry leading to any trouble.

Anyone who visits Martinsburg should stop at Bob’s Bar & Grill and get a hamburger. Just one though as this monstrous sandwich could feed an entire family. Check out Bob’s on Facebook.

Lewis and Clark stopped at a site approximately 12 miles upriver from Ponca and replenished their supplies.

Concord is home to the University of Nebraska’s Haskell Ag Lab, a research farm that also houses the Dixon County Extension office. Concord hosts the Dixon County Fair each year.

Ponca State Park is located next to the Missouri River and one of Nebraska’s true gems. If you are interested in an outdoor recreational activity, you will find it at the park. The park hosts an annual Outdoor Expo in which participants can try their hand at archery, kayaking, outdoor cooking and more.

landscape scene of dixon county nebraska
One of the very few flat areas in Dixon County
Jill Heemstra

Husker trivia related to 35:

  • Current Husker to wear 35: Caleb Lightbourn, Nebraska’s Ray Guy Award watchlist punter
  • Who wore it best? Jeff Kinney was an All-American (3rd team) running back on the 1971 Nebraska team. Kinney scored the winning touchdown in the “Game of the Century”. It was his fourth touchdown of the day.
  • Who wore it best? Ed Weir was the first Husker to be selected for the college football hall of fame. He was a consensus All-American tackle in 1924 and 1925 and native of Superior, Nebraska. He was also captain of the 1923 Cornhuskers (not sure if they were Cornhuskers back then) that beat the fabled “Four Horseman” of Notre Dame.
  • Other notable 35’s: Andy Janovich (fullback 2013-16) and Kris Brown (kicker 1995-98) also wore 35.

Game of the Century highlights interspersed with interview clips from Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer. Nebraska scored 35 points to win the game vs the #2 Oklahoma Sooners.

Tommy Frazier completed a 35 yard pass to Ahman Green vs Colorado in 1995. On this play, Frazier was hit in the backfield, but eluded the sack (he was not sacked once the entire season) and got the ball to his running back. The play in question was at 1:04:42 in case the embedded time stamp doesn’t take you right to it.