The City of Valentine is a full-service city located in the beautiful Sandhills region of north-central Nebraska near the National Scenic Niobrara River. We provide residents with nearly all public services including police, fire, water, sewer, electricity, library, street maintenance, parks, and recreational programs. Valentine is the county seat of Cherry County. Cattle ranching is the lifeblood of the Sandhills region and Valentine is at its heart. Because the unique geography of the area, tourism is the second economic engine in the area. The area offers a wide array of outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, and floating down Niobrara River on a canoe, tube, or kayak. If that isn’t enough, we also have world class golfing, including the municipally owned 10-hole Frederick Peak Golf Club designed by the Lehman Design Group and opened in 2017.
In 1882 a small town was being formed in the Sandhills of northern Nebraska, ten miles from the South Dakota border in the soon to be established Cherry County. As the new county began to flourish because of the trek of pioneers from the east and west and south to gain land from the Federal Government, a railroad was built to service the new county and to replace the ox and mule drawn freight wagons. The railroad accomplished the crossing of the Niobrara River in 1883 over a wooden trestle bridge.
The Railroad being built that year brought many workers into town, with the first train arriving in late March 1883. Valentine’s first buildings, grocery and hardware stores, harness shops, five livery stables, five saloons and a few churches, were built in 1882. The Village of Valentine was named after E.K.Valentine, a popular congressman elected in 1882, and was incorporated on January 8, 1884.
A military fort, FORT NIOBRARA, had been established in 1880 to protect the settlers and to keep peace along the border with the Sioux. The fort was four miles east of Valentine and remained in operation until 1906.
A large influx of settlers took advantage of the Homestead Act to farm the Sandhills Area, however they soon found that the area was not suitable for farming and thousands left the area.
The Kinkaid Act was responsible for the encouragement of ranching in the area. This act was aimed at increasing the size of home residency on the land and improvements totaling $1.25 per acre. The large number of settlers who took advantage of the new law dramatically increased the population of Cherry County.
Thus, Valentine settled in 1884 and was named the county seat of Cherry County. The county was proclaimed by Governor James W. Dawes and took the name of Cherry in respect for Lieutenant Samuel A. Cherry who had recently been killed in the line of duty while stationed at Fort Niobrara. A marker stands today at the site of the first election of the County of Cherry. This marker is not far to the west from the present Cornell Dam.