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Nebraska County Countdown 12: Knox County

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Visit Devils Nest, Niobrara State Park and a country club without a course. We also revisit famous 12’s Gill, Reynolds, Humm, and Redwine.

Yesterday’s county article visited Cedar County and today we head a little west to Knox County. Located, along the Missouri River, Knox County is home to some beautiful scenery as well as a lot of cattle.

The population is 8,701 and county seat is Center. Cities include: Bloomfield, Creighton, and Crofton. Villages include: Bazile Mills, Center, Niobrara, Santee, Verdel, Verdigre, Wausa, and Winnetoon. Census-designated areas or unincorporated areas include: Lindy, Dukeville, Jelen, Knoxville, Mars, Pishelville, Sparta, Venus and Walnut. I’ve lived near this county for over 20 years and I’ve never heard of half of these unincorporated areas. Now, I’m curious to explore a bit more.

No, I wasn’t able to discern whether the population of Mars is made up entirely of males and Venus of females.

The Map

Knox County was formed in 1857 and originally named L’Eau Qui Court County. This was apparently the French name for Niobrara, as in the Niobrara River that runs across the county and enters the Missouri River at the town of Niobrara. To avoid having students fail spelling tests, the name was changed to Knox in 1873. General Henry Knox was the country’s first Secretary of War.

The town of Niobrara is Nebraska’s third oldest. It has been relocated twice. The first time was in 1881 due to a flood during spring thaws. The second was in 1974, and was the result of a rising water table as Lewis and Clark Lake silted in after the construction of the Fort Randall dam at Yankton. Niobrara was the original county seat, but eventually had to cede that title after several votes resulted in a compromise choice of Center (the geographical center of the county.)

Things to see and do in Knox County:

  • Niobrara State Park hosts buffalo cookouts in the summer and is a nice spot for camping, hiking, and wildlife spotting.
  • Devil’s Nest was an ambitious development along the Missouri River that included a ski lift. It opened in 1970 but was not successful and was largely abandoned. It has been the subject of a redevelopment effort over the past 10 years. The area is said to have been a hideout area for the Jesse James gang, among other outlaws.
  • The Lindy Country Club is the only country club in northeast Nebraska without a golf course. In other words, it is a bar/restaurant with an upscale name.
  • If passing through Wausa, stop at the locker and try some of their special recipe sausages, hot dogs, and other specialties.
  • The Chief Standing Bear Bridge connects Knox County (Niobrara) to South Dakota.
  • The Ponca Tribal Museum is near Maiden’s Leap and hosts a pow wow on the third weekend each August. Maiden’s Leap is a rock formation near Niobrara where an Indian woman is said to have ridden one of her father’s best horses off the cliff after he betrothed her to a man she didn’t want to marry.

Football Players from Knox County

Tony Wragge graduated from Bloomfield and played his college ball at New Mexico State. He went on to play in 82 NFL games as an offensive lineman from 2002-2011.

Husker trivia related to 12

Current Huskers to wear #12: Senior OLB Luke Gifford and Freshman TE Katerian Legone.

A lot of notable Cornhuskers have worn #12. They include:

  • Turner Gill - The trigger man for the “Scoring Explosion” and All-American QB (2nd team; 1983). Currently the head coach at Liberty University.
  • Bobby Reynolds - All-American RB (1950) . I embedded a short clip of highlights of “Mr. Touchdown”, including his famous reverse-the-field run against Missouri, below. Reynolds even kicked the extra points for his own touchdowns. The famous play in question starts around the 2:50 mark in the video.
  • David Humm was a 2nd team All-American at QB for Nebraska in 1974 and finished 5th in Heisman trophy voting. He died this past March at the age of 65.
  • Jarvis Redwine was an All-American at RB in 1980 and had the best head of hair this side of Wonder Monds and Kenny Bell. After reading his huskers.com bio I learned that Nebraska used to give something called the Hinky-Dinky Trophy which went to the Most Popular Cornhusker.
  • The 1912 Cornhuskers posted a 7-1 record (2-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference) with a roster of just 15 players.