SIOUX County embraces all that vast extent of country north of Cheyenne County, and extends westward to Wyoming Territory, and northward to Dakota Territory, and is in fact all that unorganized tract known as Northwestern Nebraska. Though unorganized, it is termed Sioux County, and attached to Cheyenne County for revenue and judiciary purposes.
There have been so many conflicting statements concerning this part of the State that many have an impression that Northwestern Nebraska is but a desert, which is a mistake.
The streams flowing through the county are the Niobrara and White Rivers, with their tributaries. The streams flowing into the two above-named rivers are numerous, with clear running water, and their valleys are very fertile. Farming is carried on to a considerable extent in these valleys. Very good crops are raised. Many of these settlers and farmers are what are known as "squaw men" -- that is, white men who have Indian wives. The men with their squaw wives generally have large families of half-breed children, who are early taught to labor on these farms. Their labor is profitable, as the yield of crops, particularly of potatoes and vegetables, is large. The soil is specially adapted to these crops.
Not only has this country a great number of streams of running water, but its prairies are also covered with a growth of the most nutritious of wild grasses, similar to those described as growing on the prairies of Cheyenne County. Excepting in the valleys of the streams, stock raising must be for years the chief industry of the country, as the rainfall is not sufficient to make agriculture a success. The soil is favorable for farming, where the moisture is sufficient.
The number of cattle now in the county is estimated by those thoroughly acquainted with the country, at about three hundred thousand, or perhaps a little more; although a return for assessing purposes to the officials of Cheyenne County only estimates the number at one hundred thousand.
These returns are incomplete, as of course many stock-raisers will endeavor to escape a full taxation.
There is also considerable attention given to the raising of horses. There are several ranches where a large number of brood mares are kept for this purpose.
There are yet a large number of Indians in this territory.
The white population is probably now about eight hundred.
There is yet a large amount of wild game in the county, such as buffalo, antelope and deer.
There are two military posts in the county -- Fort Robinson and Camp Sheridan, at each of which a few companies of soldiers are stationed.
Previous to 1876, Sioux County, as well as the portion of Cheyenne north of the North Platte River, was occupied by the Ogalalla and Brule Sioux as their reservation and hunting-grounds, the country then abounding in game. This being almost the last suitable hunting-grounds in the West, the Indians were very jealous of any encroachments of white men into their territory, and it was only after the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, and then only with the greatest difficulty, and only through fear of being driven out by force that they were prevailed upon to relinquish by treaty their exclusive right to this reservation. This treaty was formed in 1876.
So much has been written in the newspapers of the vast pine forests of Northwestern Nebraska, in the Niobrara country, that it may perhaps be well to state here that so far as any extensive forest is concerned, it is all a myth; yet there is a considerable amount of timber, mostly pine, skirting the the Niobrara and other streams. But this timbered region is no more extensive than the narrow strips of timber bordering the streams in the eastern part of the State that have been described in another place. Some of these pine trees, however, attain as much as two feet in diameter and are of the hard or pitch pine variety