The South Central Region
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The South Central Region in the southwest part of Nebraska is quite diverse, encompassing fertile farmland, treeless plains, sandhills and meandering rivers and man-made lakes. Interstate 80 runs along the northern section of the Prairie Lakes Region, making it easily accessible to visitors; nevertheless, many fabulous experiences await those who head off the beaten path.
The region was sometimes referred to as the Great American Desert in the early 19th century, but technology and the ingenuity have dramatically changed the landscape. There are now dozens of man-made lakes and reservoirs dotting the grasslands here, including Red Willow Reservoir and Champion Lake. Lake McConaughy boasts some of the best walleye fishing in the region, while Lake Ogallala, below Kinglsey Dam, has some of the best trout fishing in the whole country. Swanson Reservoir State Recreation Area, near the Republican River, is a popular spot for outdoorsmen: adjacent to the reservoir are four thousand acres of managed land for outdoor recreation and wildlife.
The city of North Platte, in the northern section of the Prairie Lakes Region, has been a crucial transportation hub for the Midwest for over a century. The Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail passed near North Platte, as did the Pony Express. During the Second World War, the military had a main switching point here. The Lincoln County Historical Museum in North Platte has fascinating exhibits on this aspect of North Platte's past and present. Also near North Platte is Buffalo Bill's Scout Rest Ranch - a historical state park since 1965, and a tribute to western adventurer and showman Colonel William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Each June, NEBRASKAlandDAYS celebrates all aspects of life in Nebraska with rodeos, parades, ethnic food and festivals, and all around good fun.
Ogallala, in the western part of the Prairie Lakes Region, is a quiet town with a notorious past. During the 1880s, the town was inundated each summer with cowboys fresh off the cattle trail. Saloons, flophouses, brothels and gambling parlors awaited them. It is a much tamer town today, but still interesting to visit; a taste of Ogallala's past can be found at the Front Street and Cowboy Museum.
Cities within the South Central region: