Wyoming: Niobrara County

Niobrara County (pop. 2,484) is the least-populated county in the least-populated state in the U.S. It is pronounced “nie-uh-BRARE-uh.”

Cattle-ranching country

The county is named for the 568-mile Niobrara River, a tributary of the Missouri River that begins in Niobrara County. The word comes from a Ponca Indian word meaning “spreading water.”

It reaches the Missouri near the town of Niobrara, Nebraska.

The county seat of Niobrara County is Lusk (pop. 1,567).

Elevation 5,020 feet

Lusk was established in the late 1800s as a stagecoach stop between Cheyenne and the gold mines at Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

U.S. Highway 85 follows the same route.

The Stagecoach Museum is in Lusk’s former National Guard Armory.

Historic relics include a stuffed two-headed calf.

James G. Watt, Secretary of the Interior for Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1983, was born in Lusk in 1938.

Watt graduated from the University of Wyoming.

The Silver Sage Bison Ranch, 50 miles north of Lusk, is a working cattle and bison ranch that has a 1,200-acre area for buffalo-hunting in the winter.

A herd of up to 60 animals is in the area.

Ten miles south of Lusk, on the Old Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage Road, is the grave of “Mother Featherlegs” Shepard, a local prostitute who died in a robbery in 1879.

The granite monument was unveiled in 1964.


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