Farm Futures logo

The Niobrara River is a national treasure that runs border to border across northern Nebraska.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

November 20, 2015

3 Min Read

The Niobrara River is something special. Those who live along its route through the state, farm and ranch alongside this lifeline of water running across northern Nebraska, know this because they see it every day. But almost anyone who has been around the river, from where it enters the state in the northern Panhandle to where it empties into the Missouri in Knox County, understands why it is special.

Related:  Historic Niobrara River agreement signed at Husker Harvest Days


That’s one of the reasons the historic agreement entered into between five natural resources districts along the river, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Public Power District is so important. By decommissioning the Spencer Dam and working together to plan for the multiple interests along the river, including agriculture, these groups are trying to coordinate their efforts and reduce use conflicts between stakeholders down the road. There are still steps that need to be taken to bring it all to fruition, but the effort began with the agreement signing at Husker Harvest Days in September.

In light of these movements, I thought it would be fun to give you another weekend quiz challenge, to see how much you know about the state’s longest river system.

Niobrara is an Indian word meaning what?

  1. Flatland river

  2. Spreading water river

  3. Grass river

How long is Nebraska’s longest river?

  1. 256 miles

  2. 722 miles

  3. 535 miles

Approximately how many waterfalls have been found on the Niobrara?

  1. 500 plus

  2. 200 plus

  3. 20 plus

What is the name of the state’s tallest waterfall located in the Niobrara River valley?

  1. Berry Falls

  2. Smith Falls

  3. Snake River Falls

About how many species of birds have been sighted along the Niobrara National Wild and Scenic River?

  1. 200

  2. 315

  3. 123

In which county is the Niobrara’s confluence with the Missouri River?

  1. Otoe

  2. Holt

  3. Knox

Near what Wyoming town does the Niobrara begin?

  1. Lusk

  2. Cheyenne

  3. Laramie

How many ecosystems converge in the middle of the Niobrara River valley?

  1. 6

  2. 12

  3. 15

Which Native American tribe built earthlodges near the mouth of the Niobrara River?

  1. Cheyenne

  2. Lakota

  3. Ponca

In what year was Fort Niobrara established?

  1. 1795

  2. 1879

  3. 1918

How many square miles in Nebraska does the Niobrara drain?

  1. 12,600 square miles

  2. 153,200 square miles

  3. 53,050 square miles

About how many species of plants and animals reside along the Niobrara River valley at the edge of their distribution?

  1. 160

  2. 512

  3. 232

What unique structure along the Cowboy Trail is a quarter mile long and rises 150 feet above the Niobrara River?

  1. Old train trestle bridge

  2. Harvey Buttes

  3. Chimney Rock

What festival takes place along the Niobrara River at the Meadville Store every January?

  1. Cowboy poetry festival

  2. Country music festival

  3. Polar Bear festival

What are some of the wildlife visitors can view at Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge?

  1. Lions and tigers and bears

  2. Squirrels and cats and dogs

  3. Elk and buffalo and prairie dogs


1.Spreading water river 2. 535 miles 3. 200 plus 4. Smith Falls 5. 200 6. Knox 7. Lusk 8. 6 9. Ponca 10. 1879 11. 12,600 square miles 12. 160 13. Old train trestle bridge 14. Polar Bear festival 15. Elk and buffalo and prairie dogs

Be sure to watch Nebraska Farmer online and the Nebraska Farmer Facebook page for the latest in local farm news. Follow me on Twitter @HuskerHomePlace or Editor, Tyler Harris @tyharris08.

Bonus:  Big day at Natural Resources Building at HHD

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like