“Nebraska” comes from an Oto Indian word meaning “flat water,” referring to the Platte River. York County is south of the Platte River and is drained by the Big Blue River, Beaver Creek, Lincoln Creek, and Coon Creek. Early settlers hauled water from natural springs, dug wells by hand, or dug ditches to water their crops. Windmills were vital to pumping water for crops, livestock, and household use in the 1920s. Today’s farmers use windmills mostly to pump water for livestockLivestock - Animals raised for home use or for profit, especially on a farm. Cattle and horses are good examples of livestock. Irrigation wells are pumped with diesel or electric motors.
In the 1920s, York County farmers began to use groundwater for irrigating crops, but it wasn’t until the late 1930s that farmers drilled very deep wells and pumped water to the surface with gasoline or diesel powered pumps. Later, farmers used a series of tubes and gates to move water from deep wells to crops in the fields. Today, Nebraska is a leader in the use of center pivot irrigation, pumping water from deep below ground to irrigate crops.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt