County History




Arthur County is located in western Nebraska east of the panhandle.  Aruthur is included in the west central Sandhills.  


Relatively unpopulated; no rivers or streams; few lakes; these factors influenced the settlement and

developement of the county.  There were no railroad line into Aurthur County, preventing growth and economic development.


The sandhills region is made up of hilly land; low to high sand dunes stabilized by grass cover.


The region is drained by the Loup and Niobrara Rivers.


Arthur is one of the least populated and most rural counties in Nebraska.


Ranching is the most important economic activity inthe county.





The first Americans to move into Arthur County area began to arrive in 1867-1890.


These were usually cattlemen who brought their herds to the region for free, open range for grazing.


By the 1900's the ranches of Buffalo Bill Cody and the North Brothers were locaated in McPherson County and extended into Arthur County.


In 1884, the federal government opened up the region to settlement.


In 1886-1886, the State Legislature divided the Sand Hills Region into its present counties.


Arthur County, however, was not organized at this time and fell under the hand of Logan County to the east.


The 1890 Federal Census listed a population of 91 people in the area that would become Arthur and Logan. 


In 1894 a post office was established in Lena. 


The major factors that influenced the settlement of Arthur County:


    The Kinkaid Act of 1904 and the official establishment of Arthur County in 1913.

    The Kinkaid Act, along with the opening of a forest reserve in 1911


Both produced an increase in population.



The townsite of Arthur was chosen as the county seat.


The first courthouse was in a covered wagon, until 1915.


Arthur County Courthouse  built in 1915, reportedly one of the smallest buldings of it type in the country and consisted of  two rooms.  


This small frame building served the county until the early 1960's.  The first courthouse now serves as a historical attraction and is used for storage.


A new courthouse was built in in 1960 containing the town library.


During this period the Arthur County High School was established.  School was first held in a one room building.  


In 1922  additions were made to the high school; four years later it was remodelled and electricity was added.


In 1949 construction of the new high school becan and was completed in 1950.  Later additions of a gym, two classrooms, library, furnace room, concession roomand office space was added.


Churches and civic organizations wre also established at this time.


Additions were made to the county high school and the Co-op Credit Association of Arthur County were created in 1939.


In the early 50's, telephone and electricity services came to Arthur.


There were two major highways built in the county:


Highway 61, connecting Arthur with Ogallala and Hyannis

Highway 92 between Tryon and Arthur.



County Seat



The county seat of Arthur is the only town in Arthur County and established offically in 1913 when the county was organized.


The Arthur Post Office, established 1914, still serves the county, and is the only post office.


The first building was a general store, built in the spring of 1914.  The town experienced it initial developement between 1914 and 1920.  The courthouse and the general store were among the first buildings.


In 1914 the official newspaper, Arthur Enterprise, was began.


In 1916 the Arthur State Bank was established, it closed in 1932 with the Great Depression.


In 1927, the Arthur Pilgrim Holiness Church was built; a one room building.


The American Legion Post #207

The American Legion Auxilliary

The Arthur County Library



The Arthur Baptist Church, which burned, was rebuilt in 1944.  The parsonage was remodelled in 1949.


A new courthouse was built in in 1960 containing the town library.


Arthur remains small, population also low.  


The town includes:



General Store


Supply and Gas


Feed store

Veterinary Clinic

Bank of Keystone




1890 - 91      (Arthur was part of Logan County)


1900 - 960     (Arthur was part of Logan County)


1910 - 1,521    (Arthur was part of Logan County)


1920 - 1,412     (Arthur County only)




Between 1930 and 1950 population decreased from 1,344 to 803.


1960 - 680


1970 - 606


1970 - 513




Nebraska Historic Buildings Survey

Reconnaissance Survey Final Report of Arthur County, Nebraska

Prepared for Nebraska State Historical Society/State Historic Preservation Office




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