Tucked away in the southwest corner of Chase County Nebraska is a little piece of paradise known as the Village of Wauneta. It’s situated between Highway 6 and the Frenchman River, some 265 miles east of Denver and 363 miles west of Omaha. Rich in history, Wauneta has been known as a “working man’s town” since the day of its inception.
Originally formed by the proclamation of Governor Dawes on April 12, 1886, Wauneta came alive to become one of the three voting districts in Chase County; although the area had been inhabited for many years prior to that.
As history tells us, Wauneta was first settled as a cattle camp by George Rowley and his family in 1877. Years prior to that, trappers and Native Americans lived throughout the area and took advantage of the abundant wild life and fresh water that the Frenchman River provided.
Mail was delivered on horseback, from Culbertson, until 1892 when Burlington Railroad completed its line to Imperial. When the train first pulled through Wauneta on January 28th, 1892 all it carried was the Burlington officials, but there was still a crowd that came out to greet them.
There’s more to life in Wauneta than farming and ranching. They have an immense loyalty to the public school and providing activities for its citizens. The Wauneta Public School that exists today sits on the very spot that the first village school occupied back in 1887. Wauneta has a strong tradition of dedication to its school and all the programs it offers.
Besides school, the kids in town, as well as the adults, can always find something to do. There is a large public library and a 20-acre park with a baseball field, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, paved walking path, two large children’s play areas and covered picnic tables. There are meeting facilities, movies on the weekends and bingo at the Senior Center almost every Thursday night.
Even though ranching and farming has been the economic engine that drives the communities in this area, there is so much more to it. It’s the strong family bonds and good sense of community that keep it all on track. Throughout Wauneta’s history, its citizens have lived through a gamut of natural disasters and many other hard-ships, but their loyalty to their families and to the community has kept them strong, and in this they find their vision of the future.