Cities, Towns, Villages
Gering; Henry; Lyman; McGrew; Melbeta; Minatare; Mitchell; Morrill; Scottsbluff; Terrytown
Scotts Bluff County is one of just two counties in Nebraska to receive its name from a local landmark. In this case it is a towering bluff located near the county seat of Gering. Known as the Scotts Bluff National Monument, its history is significant to this area of the Panhandle.
The bluff was named after fur trapper Hiram Scott. History accounts indicate that Scott was part of a trapping party headed up the North Platte River Valley. When he and two other trappers became ill, they were left behind to return downstream by boat. Along the way the boat capsized and the three, who lost all supplies, began walking. Scott fell and broke his leg. Once again he was left behind. The following spring Scott's skeleton was found at the foot the bluff that bears his name. He had apparently crawled 75 miles before he died.
Scotts Bluff County was originally part of the Louisiana Purchase and eventually part of Cheyenne County, which made up the southern half of the Nebraska Panhandle when the state was admitted to the Union in 1867. In an 1888 vote, Scotts Bluff County was formed. Gering, which was founded the previous year, was named the county seat.
The Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail and Pony Express Route brought early travelers and settlers to the area. But it was actually the railroads which spurred the greatest growth. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy was built through the townsite of Scottsbluff in the early 1900s. It was not until 1911 that the Union Pacific Railroad came to Gering. Despite the two communities being separated only by the North Platte River, this fact resulted in Scottsbluff growing at a faster pace. Today, Scottsbluff and Gering combine to serve as a central retail hub for a 150-mile radius.
The lush North Platte River Valley that runs from northwest to southeast across the county is prime crop production land. Principal crops today include sugar beets, alfalfa, corn, pinto and northern beans, wheat and potatoes. Additionally, livestock production is another vital part of the county's economy.