The Nebraska Panhandle is an area in the western part of the state of Nebraska and one of several U.S. state panhandles, or elongated geographical regions that extend from their main political entity.
The Nebraska panhandle is two-thirds as broad as the rest of the state. It is approximately 100 miles east to west and 125 miles north to south. The Nebraska panhandle roughly encompasses the area in Nebraska between 102° and 104°W longitude and 41° and 43°N latitude. It comprises eleven counties with a combined land area of 14,180.76 square miles (36,728.0 km²), or about 18.45 percent of the state's land. Its population as of the 2010 Census was 87,789 inhabitants, or about 4.70 percent of the state's population. Its largest city is Scottsbluff, in the west-central part of the area.
Nebraska voluntarily gave up its southwestern corner to Colorado because the mountainous terrain of the territory was not suited for railroads, and miners working in the mountains were widely seen as an rowdy bunch and a threat to the farming way of life.
Cities and Towns
Major cities in the Nebraska panhandle include:
As part of a general trend in migration from rural to metropolitan areas, most counties in the Nebraska panhandle have seen population decreases in recent decades; however, Scotts Bluff, Dawes, and Cheyenne counties increased their populations from the years 1990 to 2000 and again from 2000 to 2010. While out-migration from the Panhandle exceeds in-migration, a study coordinated by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln surveyed and interviewed a sample of newcomers to the region in order to understand their demographic makeup and reasons for relocation. Results indicated that in-migrants to the Nebraska panhandle were on average younger and had higher average incomes and educational levels than other area residents; in-migrants cited a "simpler pace of life," reduced congestion, and lower costs of living among their reasons for relocation.
Points of Interest
The Nebraska panhandle has a great deal of geographical and geological diversity; the region itself is made up of several smaller areas. Areas, features, and sites of interest in the Nebraska panhandle include:
- Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
- Chimney Rock
- Fort Robinson
- Pine Ridge
- Toadstool Geologic Park
- Scotts Bluff National Monument
- Wildcat Hills
- North Platte River
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