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Nebraska Counties
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Nebraska Counties

There is ninety-three counties in state of Nebraska. Despite the fact that Sarpy County contained the oldest settlement in the state, it was one of the last lands along the river to be recognized by law. Finally, on February 1, 1857, the land "where the cities meet the country" was officially created.

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Buffalo County, Nebraska

Buffalo County Education, Geography, and HistoryBuffalo County, Nebraska Courthouse

Buffalo County is a county located in the state of Nebraska. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 46,102, making it the fifth-most populous county in Nebraska. Its county seat is Kearney. The county was created in 1855 and later organized in 1870.It was named after the then-prevalent buffalo herds.

Buffalo County is part of the Kearney, NE Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Buffalo County Name

Buffalo County is one of only two counties in Nebraska that derived its name from an animal. Years before this area along the Platte River would become a county, large herds of buffalo grazed the river valley and the rolling plains to the north. When it came time to organize the county, it seemed fitting to name it after the animal that once roamed the area freely.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Buffalo County History

The boundaries of Buffalo County were established by the Territorial Legislature in 1855. The county was officially organized in 1864, three years before Nebraska was admitted to the Union.

Two transportation lines can be credited with the early development of the area -- the Mormon Trail and the Union Pacific Railroad.

The first settlers in this area were said to be Mormons who had headed west along the trail in 1858. But a fierce war between the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes forced these early settlers to temporarily abandon the area. When the fighting subsided, the settlers gradually returned. In time, more and more settlers came to the area because of the rich Platte River Valley and the fertile soil that could be found in the surrounding hills.

With the coming of the railroad in the 1860s, Buffalo County would continue to develop. One of the stations that sprang up was Kearney, the county seat. Originally named Fort Childs, it was later renamed Kearney Junction and finally shortened to Kearney. Moses H. Sydenham, one of the early pioneers in the county, founded a newspaper in this young settlement and used the publication to promote his idea that Kearney, with its central location, should become the capital of the United States.

Hardships such as hot, dry weather and severe blizzards were not uncommon for the early residents of the county. But the most serious challenge faced by those who worked the land was the damage done by waves of grasshoppers that swarmed over the area in the mid 1870s.

More than 115 years later, Buffalo County is a thriving agricultural and industrial area. It also plays an important role in the state's higher education system, with the University of Nebraska-Kearney located in the county seat.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 875 square miles (2,270 km2), of which 968 square miles (2,510 km2) is land and 7.3 square miles (19 km2) (0.7%) is water

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Hall County, Nebraska (east)
  • Adams County, Nebraska (southeast)
  • Kearney County, Nebraska (south)
  • Phelps County, Nebraska (southwest)
  • Dawson County, Nebraska (west)
  • Custer County, Nebraska (northwest)
  • Sherman County, Nebraska (north)
  • Howard County, Nebraska (northeast)


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