Ranching Country!

Orignally named "Lena", the town of Dunning, Nebraska is nestled between the Loup and Dismal Rivers, and today is merely a ghost of the busy, bustling ranch town it was in earlier days. Today few businesses exist in Dunning, Nebraska. Norm's Auto Repair and Sinclair station is located at the intersection of Nebraska Highway 2 and 91. Inside the station you will find snacks, restrooms and lovely handmade pottery from the Sandhills Pottery Company. In town you will find the Sandhills Blessings Quilt Shop, the Dismal River Carpentry company and the newly opened Sandhills Heritage Museum. There is interesting architecture around the town to see including the Village of Dunning offices.

Located in Blaine County, Nebraska, the town and area of Dunning, Nebraska was the site of skirmishes between cattle ranchers and homesteaders. The population of the Sandhills area of Nebraska greatly benefited from the 1903 Kinkaid Act which allowed homesteaders to claim 640 acres rather than the 160 acres designated for the eastern farming areas of the State. The Kinkaid Act proved to be of the utmost importance for encouraging the settlement of the Sandhills of Nebraska. The 1900's through the 1930's until the Great Depression was a prosperous time and the population boomed in the Dunning area. In 1890 the population of Blaine County, organized as a county in 1886, was 1,146. After the drought years of the 1890's the population was 603. In 1910 the population rose up to 1,672.
Post offices were important social hubs in the large expanse of the Sandhills and many post offices were established without the benefit of a town. Edith and Scheding were established in 1907 in the German Valley area and Pritchard, located at Section 29 - Range 24 - Township 24, and Lucy, located between Brewster and Dunning, were other post office social hubs.
Encouraged by a glut of cattle in Texas, Texas cattlemen drove their longhorn cattle up the trails to the Nebraska railroad line hubs. First to Nebraska City and then further west to Kearney and Ogallala. Some of the Texans stayed in Nebraska and built their own ranches with the lean and bony longhorns as their chief asset. Shorthorn Durham bulls were introduced into the breeding lines but after the introduction of the Herefordshire cattle from England into the Sandhills area, Herefords became the cattle of choice for the area ranches. With the building of the transcontinental railroad, cattle from the Nebraska Sandhills were in demand and ranch life flourished. The Northrup Ranch was established in 1870 between Goose Creek and the North Loup River. 1884 saw the establishment of the Field Brothers Ranch. The Field Brothers as well as the Sawyer Ranch and the Rankin Ranch were all instrumental in the development of Dunning, Nebraska as an important Sandhills town. Located along the orignial Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad line, Dunning became the large cattle shipping center for the area ranchers. Those skirmishes between ranchers and homesteaders usually resulted only in property damage and were settled in courts of law. Cattle rustling was a problem also for the ranchers with Nebraska's own Doc Middleton a leading culprit.

Visit Sandhills Goat Products website to learn about products made from goat's milk in the Dunning, Nebraska area.


Ocean of Grass website

A film by Georg Joutras about the McGinn Ranch, located near Dunning, Nebraska

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