Environmental Perception and Geographic Change in Southwest Sheridan County

The story of exploration, settlement, adjustment, change, and disruption in the Nebraska Panhandle and adjacent Sandhills has been a favorite theme of historians and other investigators. Strangely, relatively little attention has been paid to the geographic impact of men’s differing reactions to the varied environment of northwestern Nebraska. In view of this gap, and in the light of scholars’ increasing attention to environmental perception, this paper focuses on’ changes in men’s attitudes toward the usability of land where the Sandhills and the Box Butte Tableland meet in southwestern Sheridan County.

Pioneer Sheridan County farmers claimed Box Butte Tableland acreage in preference to Sandhills land. Drought and economic depression caused many of those Tableland settlers to give up on farming and relinquish their claims. By 1900 livestock grazing had become a prominent activity in both areas of the county.

Black and white photograph showing teams of horses powering a threshing machine in Sheridan County, Nebraska.

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