Hayes County is in Southwestern Nebraska, is twenty-four miles in extent from north to south, and thirty miles from east to west. It is bounded on the north by Keith and Lincoln Counties, on the east by Frontier, on the south by Hitchcock, and on the west by Chase.
Though termed a county it has no organization as such, but it is attached to Frontier for revenue, judicial and elective purposes. It is simply a precinct of the latter county, and only has powers as such. It was named in honor of Ex-President Rutherford B. Hayes.
Its location is about midway between the valleys of the Platte and Republican Rivers, and it has no great river flowing through it. It has, however, several smaller streams that are of great utility for stock raising purposes. Red Willow Creek enters the county from Lincoln, flows a little east of south, across the eastern part of the county. This is quite an important stream, having an abundant flow of water. The Frenchman's Creek flows in a southeasterly direction across the southwestern part of the county. Stinking Water Creek enters the county from the northwest, and flows southeast into the Frenchman's. All of the above streams have numerous small tributaries and furnish an abundance of water for cattle.
The surface of the land is rough and broken in many places. The bottoms bordering on the above streams are very fertile, and are covered with a rich growth of grass, which makes the very best of hay. As the uplands rise from the creeks, the county is intersected by numerous cañons, which are also in the bottom covered with large grass. As the surface gradually rises to the divides between the creeks, there are often broad tracts of comparatively level land. All of this upland is covered with buffalo grass.
The industry of the county is cattle raising, and the prairies are for the entire year covered with thousands of cattle that thrive both winter and summer, and are a source of fast increasing wealth to their owners. No feeding is ever done, and in the winter the cattle derive their sustenance from the dry grass of the prairies and do well, except in occasional instances when the ground is covered with snow, but owing to the excessive dryness of the climate this does not often happen.
Farming has never yet been undertaken, and it is not probable that it can be done successfully, unless in the bottom lands and there only by irrigation. The soil of almost the entire county is fertile, but the climate is so excessively dry as to preclude crop growing, unless the soil can be moistened by artificial means.
The population of the county is but little more than 100, and these are all cattle raisers and their employes.
There are no extensive settlements, there being only a few cattle ranches, and these are generally of a temporary character. There are the following post offices: Carrico, Estell, McNaughton, and Thornburgh.