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Nebraska County Countdown 26: Antelope County

White Buffalo Girl, Wonderful Terrific Monds, Ashfall Park, and Tom Rathman

Welcome to Antelope County. The county was formed in 1871 and named because a group of men, chasing cattle thieves, killed some antelope after having been without food for two days. The population is 6,685 and county seat is Neligh.

There are several other communities in Antelope county including: Elgin, Tilden, Brunswick, Clearwater, Oakdale, Orchard, and Royal. This area of Nebraska is where you begin to enter cow country and the Sandhills.

A must-see area is the Ashfall State Historical Park near Royal. Twelve million years ago, a volcano in Idaho spewed ash over a large area. In this particular location, ancient rhinoceros, camels, horses, a sabre-toothed deer, dogs, turtles, birds (and more) gathered around a watering hole and eventually died from breathing so much ash. The area could have been destroyed during the last Ice Age, but fortunately the glaciers did not quite make it to that area, missing it by a mere dozens of miles (or so I am told - I really couldn’t find anything to corroborate this online). Below are a couple of pictures taken 10 years ago - the site has expanded considerably since then.

ashfall fossil beds Jill Heemstra
ashfall fossil beds Jill Heemstra

When visiting Neligh, two areas to visit are the Neligh Mill State Historic site and the grave of White Buffalo Girl. The mill was a water powered flour mill that opened in 1873. While no longer used as a mill, it still has the original equipment.

The White Buffalo Girl gravesite is that of an 18 month old Ponca girl. She died on the journey to the Indian territory, the Ponca Trail of Tears. Her parents, Black Elk and Moon Hawk, asked that someone care for her grave as they would not be allowed to return to do it themselves. The residents of Neligh honored this request, and do so to this day.

Husker trivia related to 26:

  • Current Huskers to wear 26: Freshman running back Miles Jones and freshman defensive back CJ Smith.
  • Who wore it best? Wonder Monds was an All-American defensive back in 1975. He has one of the best names of a Husker player ever as his full given name is Wonderful Terrific Monds, Jr. Yes, he had a son and named him Wonderful Terrific Monds, III. Fullback Tom Rathman also wore 26 and plowed the way for running backs, including Roger Craig, in the mid-80s.
  • Mike Rozier (IB 1981-83) posted 100 or more yards rushing in 26 games in his Husker career.

What did I miss? As always, add your trivia, memories, or knowledge of Antelope County and Husker 26’s in the comments!