A fur trapper by the name of Hiram Scott gained a certain immortality by dying, alone and deserted by his companions, at the base of a magnificent formation of bluffs along the North Platte River about 1828. Many others died near this spot on the old Oregon and Mormon Trails, but it was Hiram Scott for whom Scotts Bluff, Scotts Bluff County, and the city of Scottsbluff have been named.
Scotts Bluff County was originally a part of Cheyenne County, but as the homesteaders began to stream into western Nebraska in 1886 and 1887, they wanted a county seat much nearer than far-away Sidney. In 1888, an election resulted in the creation of Scotts Bluff, Kimball, Banner, and Deuel Counties and a greatly reduced Cheyenne County. Gering, one of the first towns in the Panhandle and a leader in the movement for partition, became the county seat of Scotts Bluff County.
City of Scottsbluff
Like many towns along the North Platte River, Scottsbluff came into existence as a result of the extension of the Burlington Northern Railroad through the valley. The town site was laid out by the Lincoln Land Company, a Burlington subsidiary, in December 1899, and the railroad tracks reached it in February 1900. Most of the town site was laid out on land purchased from the McClenahan family.
By March 1900, the newborn town began to take form. Winfield Evans built the first store, and the Emery Hotel was started thereafter. The first newspaper, The Republican, was published weekly. Ernest F. Moon founded the Herald in 1901, and some time later P. J. Barron moved the Star over from Mitchell--both weeklies that were to be consolidated by H. J. Wisner and A. B. Wood into the Star-Herald in 1912.
Traveling along with the Burlington, the town progressed, steadily but slowly, until 1904. Then came the era of the big ditches and the construction of the Big Laramie and Tri-State irrigation canals. These projects brought several thousand construction workers into the valley, and alert Scottsbluff businessmen brought them into Scottsbluff to trade.
Before the ditch construction began to taper off, the Great Western Sugar Company completed the erection of a beet sugar factory in Scottsbluff in 1910. The development of irrigation plus the proximity of the sugar factory soon made the raising of sugar beets a great agricultural industry in Scotts Bluff County and surrounding areas. For miles around, farmers hauled sugar beets to the Scottsbluff factory.
With the aid of the canal-building crews and the sugar factory, Scottsbluff was rapidly becoming the principal trading center of the valley. As people in surrounding farms and villages acquired automobiles, they started coming to Scottsbluff to trade.
The town kept pace with its business growth. It shook off its juvenile boisterousness by voting out saloons temporarily in 1907. By 1907, frame buildings were beginning to be replaced by brick stores, many of which are still in use. Concrete sidewalks began to replace wood walks, and an electric light system started replacing the gas lamp about the same time. A telephone system had been installed by the Platte Valley Telephone Company several years earlier.
The area is rich in prehistoric artifacts as well as rich in the American tradition of pioneer days, being on the routes of the Oregon and Mormon Trails and the Pony Express. Scotts Bluff National Monument, six miles southwest of Scottsbluff, is designated in most of the "Immigration Journals" of those traveling west along these trails. The covered wagons of early-day explorers were awed at the sight of jutting bluffs and rugged hills rising above the flat Nebraska plains. These landmarks can still be enjoyed by today's traveler. The covered wagon trails are still visible in the passes between the bluffs.
School District No. 32 in Scotts Bluff County covers 50 square miles and has an actual valuation of $512,046,909. This Class 3, Type K-5-3-4 district is accredited "AA" by the State of Nebraska and the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges.
A gifted program is in place for grades 3-12. Vocational courses offered in the high school include general shop, automotive technology, business, vocational agricultural, home economics, metal working, woodworking, printing, and distributive education. Advanced Placement (AP) English and calculus are also offered.
The Scottsbluff Public School District has a complete Student Services Department. Adult education programs are available in public schools through the Western Nebraska Community College Area.
The Scottsbluff School District offers a complete program for students with disabilities. The district also contracts for student services with Educational Service Unit 13, the Office of Human Development, and the Panhandle Mental Health Center.
Educational Service Unit
Scottsbluff and Gering are members of Educational Service Unit 13, which is headquartered in Scottsbluff and serves two counties. Services available include a special education transportation system; special classrooms for the handicapped; instructional resource and support; homebound instruction; diagnostic, evaluation, and supervision; aural rehabilitation; speech and language development; media; in-service education; cooperative purchasing; computer; and an educator's resource center.
Educational Service Unit 13 operates the MERIDIAN school for students who are handicapped to the extent that success in the home school is very doubtful if not impossible.
Scottsbluff participates in the Western Nebraska Community College Area which encompasses 12½ counties. The area is governed by an 11-member Board of Governors elected by the citizens of the area served. Campus facilities are operated at Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC) at Scottsbluff and Sidney and the WNCC Practical Nursing Program at Alliance.
The Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff was founded in 1926 and moved to a new campus in 1969 located in the northeast part of the city. The college offers programs in Business and Vocational Education, Language and Arts, Science and Mathematics, Social Sciences, and Practical Nursing.
Programs of interest to local businesses and industries include the Independent Learning Center, Adult Basic Education Program, the Career Assessment Center, the Computer Technology Program, and the Agri-Business Program. In addition, Western Nebraska Community College offers a Community Services Program featuring a wide range of courses, both occupational and vocational. Chadron State College, a regional four-year institution, offers classes on the WNCC campus leading to baccalaureate and masters degrees.
Western Nebraska Community College Area works with area industries, retail establishments, and other agencies and organizations in planning in-service and/or in-plant training programs.
Platte Valley Bible College, established in Scottsbluff in 1951, has 4 full-time and 3 part-time instructors and a current enrollment of 60 students. A bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree program with majors in Bible, ministry, Christian education, and missions are offered. An associate of arts degree in Bible and a one-year certificate in Bible are also offered.
The University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center is the Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension Service headquarters for the panhandle of western Nebraska. The center evolved from what was originally known as the Scotts Bluff Experiment Farm. This original station was established in 1909 on a quarter section of land five miles east of Mitchell. Today the Panhandle Research and Extension Center is actually four research and demonstration units covering nearly 4,200 acres. The headquarters unit is located on the north edge of Scottsbluff. Satellite agricultural research laboratories are located at Mitchell, Alliance, and Sidney. The Cooperative Extension Service commitment includes a total of 10 county offices to serve the people of western Nebraska.
The University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center is a regional leader in agricultural research, teaching, and extension services. Each professional staff member (a total of 25 at the headquarters unit and 16 at the county location) is a faculty member of the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Panhandle Education Center is a cooperative effort by the University of Nebraska, Western Nebraska Community College, and Chadron State College. The center develops cooperative programs to serve the expressed educational needs of the Panhandle region. The comprehensive delivery system consists of: a wide variety of noncredit professional development courses offered through face-to-face instruction or interactive television; an MBA program offered jointly by Chadron State College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL); selected credit courses in agriculture and natural resources, engineering, home economics, education, and journalism offered through UNL's interactive television system and/or face-to-face instruction; and a series of credit courses taught through interactive television and/or face-to-face instruction by Chadron State College and Western Nebraska Community College.
University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing-West Nebraska Division is located in the University of Nebraska Complex in Scottsbluff. The College of Nursing has four campuses located in Omaha, Lincoln, Scottsbluff, and Kearney. The West Nebraska Division was opened in the fall of 1987 to prepare nurses for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree and a Master of Science in Nursing Degree.
Colleges, universities, and community colleges attended by area high school graduates include:
|Name of School||Location||Miles from Scottsbluff|
|Eastern Wyoming College||Torrington, WY||32 miles|
|Western Nebraska Community College||Sidney, NE||70 miles|
|Chadron State College||Chadron, NE||103 miles|
|Colorado State University||Ft. Collins, CO||140 miles|
|University of Northern Colorado||Greeley, CO||150 miles|
|University of Wyoming||Laramie, WY||150 miles|
|University of Colorado||Boulder, CO||185 miles|
|Denver University||Denver, CO||200 miles|
|University of Nebraska at Kearney||Kearney, NE||275 miles|
|University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Lincoln, NE||396 miles|
|University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha, NE||453 miles|
The Cancer Treatment Center at Regional West has been recognized and given the fullest approval of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
The hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), whose member organizations include the American College of Surgeons, American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association. Regional West is also a partner in Voluntary Hospitals of America and was designated a Rural Referral Center in December 1984.
Scotts Bluff County Health Department Services include 1) Community Health Nursing and Education and 2) Environmental Health. The Community Health Nursing & Education division provides immunization clinics, AIDS/HIV testing and counseling, blood pressure screenings, school nursing, child abuse and neglect counseling, tuberculosis testing, communicable disease investigation and control, home visits, health education, and health services to the county jail. The Environmental Health division provides advice on private water supplies, sewage disposal, refuse disposal, pest control, indoor air quality, and miscellaneous services. School inspections, mobil home park inspections, public swimming pool inspections, and child care home inspections are performed by the division.
The Panhandle Mental Health Center offers community mental health services to 11 counties in western Nebraska. Outpatient, day care, inpatient, and emergency services are provided. The Center's focus is to aid those experiencing, or who have experienced, family or marital problems, anxiety and/or depression, grief, confusion, and trauma. It specializes in the treatment of anger and domestic problems as well as the variety of symptoms children may experience. In addition, the Center provides psycho-educational workshops, consultation to other agencies, psychological assessments, and psychiatric services, including evaluation and medication checks.
The Scottsbluff Nursing Center, a licensed, skilled nursing facility with 178 beds, also has 20 residential living units. The Center, certified by Medicare and Medicaid, has 24-hour nursing services. A physical therapist and registered dietician are on staff.