Founded in the late 1800s as the hub of the burgeoning plains cattle trade, Ogallala serves as a microcosm of western history. The town typified western outposts of the age with cowboys-the knights-errant of the plains-ranchers, lawmen, Indians, dance hall girls, cardsharps, drifters, and adventure seekers, and was backdrop to some of the most rowdily lawless days in American history. But as the heady period of grazing cattle on the public domain came to a close, a new era of deeded land, fences, and increased population changed the very heart of Ogallala. The West became a more civilized and more hospitable place for women and children, churches, established newspapers, the Searle Opera House, banks, and fraternal orders and societies. Ogallala: A Century on the Trail details the fascinating history of a small town on the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills from 1823 to 1923 and cannily provides a lens through which we can examine the social, economic, environmental, political, and cultural development of the American West as a whole.
Elaine Nielsen (1930-99) was raised on a ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills and continued to ranch with her husband and five children after attending Ottawa College in Kansas. A reporter and freelance writer for the Keith County News, Western Outlook, and the North Platte Telegraph, Nielsen won several awards for her writing.
I. The Platte Valley Becomes The Way WestII. A Water Tower Along The Union PacificIII. The Era Of Cowboys And Cattle KingsIV. Homesteaders, Family, And CivilizationV. Drouth And Hard TimesVI. Change And A New CenturyVII. Community Conflict And Cooperation