This region was first organized as part of Cheyenne County shortly after the 1867 completion of the Union Pacific Railroad across Nebraska. Kimball County was formed in 1888 and named for Union Pacific Vice President Thomas L. Kimball. The semi-arid climate made cattle ranching the primary occupation of the first residents. Huge stock companies, some financed by foreign capital, used public lands for grazing without legal claims. When farmland became scarce in other regions of Nebraska, settlers pushed into grazing areas. Conventional farming methods were not suited to the climate and ranchers feared that would-be farmers would destroy the grasslands. Cattlemen defended their empires by erecting barbed wire fences. The 160 acres allotted by the Homestead Act of 1862 were insufficient for grazing cattle, a necessary supplement to farming in this region. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the removal of fences from the public domain, and in 1904 Congressman Moses Kinkaid of Nebraska introduced legislation increasing the size of homesteads in western Nebraska to 640 acres. The Kinkaid Act, new strains of winter wheat, improved dry-farming techniques, and irrigation have made farming important. Agriculture remains the primary industry, but the 1951 discovery of oil has broadened the economic base of Kimball County.

Department of Roads
Nebraska State Historical Society
Southwest corner of Kimball County
Kimball County
Marker 165